Learning The Way Of Hollywood Heroes

The Animated Graduation Project That Will Sum Up The Structure Of Any Hollywood Protagonist

By now, nearly a century after the inception of American cinema, the well-trodden Hollywood formula should be well known among film fanatics and cinephiles. As a self-professed cinephile, animator Iskander Krayenbosch decided to pay tribute to the Hollywood recipe as a final wave goodbye to his art-school studies. The Hero’s Journey was his graduation project from the bachelors degree Image and Media Technology at HKU in the Netherlands. He fell in love with animation in his second year at the HKU, which paved the way for his final-year creation. “I find it fascinating to be able to create and control your own made world,” he told us of the animation process. “With animation you have total control and it’s made possible by only using a computer and your creativity.”

The Hero’s Journey is a joy to watch. It is a meticulously well-made montage of popular films that create a patchwork relevant to the re-creation of the Hollywood make-up. All the films that he pays lip-service to are instantly recognisable, from the battle between Batman and the Joker to Aladdin’s treacherous journey to finding the magic lamp, to Harry Potter’s quest for the golden snitch. “That was the hard part,” he admits. “I had to choose which scene best represented each stage. This proved to be pretty difficult because I wanted to use each movie just one time and they had to flow from one scene into the other.”

It’s all there in one neat package, showcasing Iskander’s practical skills, his ability to adapt theory to practice, and to collaborate effectively with creative partners.

To find out more, we had a chat with the animator himself:

TP: Why did you use The Hero’s Journey story as your graduation project?
Finding a subject for my graduation project was quite difficult. I wanted to make something that showed my enthusiasm and love for cinema by creating a tribute to the impact of movies on people. After initially stumbling upon The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a book written by an anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, who wrote much about the myths of the world and how those stories follow the same pattern, I knew immediately what kind of project I wanted to make.

TP: Did you choose the 12 stories for the 12 stages?
Actually Joseph Campbell describes 17 stages in his book, but after some research I found out that Christopher Vogler adapted the idea’s of J.C into 12 stages. For practical reasons I adapted Vogler’s stages.

TP: Can you tell us about your creative process on the film, and how long did you spend on it?
I had about 3 months to make this project. The first month I spent most of my time researching the Monomyth. This is the theory Joseph Campbell wrote in 1949.
During the second month I started to work on the designs and the animation. Finding the right movies which follow the same storyline and producing the right footage for 12 stages was hard enough. I had to watch over 25 movies as homework … Which was terrible of course! During the movies I took snapshots with my phone to capture the 12 stages in the movie. So afterwards I had over 300 images.

TP: How was working with your collaborators?
I had some great help from Mirjam Verhoog, an illustration student and friend of mine who designed the backgrounds for the animation. You should check out her work.
I also asked another friend, Boris Stipdonk, to help out with the music and the sound design. He brought the animation to life.
And last I hired a professional voice-over artist to narrate my project. He did an excellent job.

TP: Which superhero would you want to be?
If had to choose it would be Batman with all his gadgets.
Living two lives but still be just an ordinary guy.