Jelly Presents: Daniela Sherer

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Daniela Sherer talks us through the ups and downs of creative freedom, the excitement of an ever-evolving style, and we take a look at her most recent project for Adult Swim, ‘Scooters’.

I’ve forever been an obsessive drawer, but I also found myself becoming more and more drawn (pardon the pun) to film. Meshing film-making with drawing came naturally, and directing animated films finally allowed me to make lines, shapes and characters that move and tell stories. So, I went to Los Angeles to study Animation at the USC film school, and later to London to get my MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art. 

From my first student films to the work I create and direct now, both independently and for clients, the medium still surprises me, and bringing drawings to life is still such a rush. These days I’m working from my home studio, in hot & humid Tel Aviv.

In the cocoon of my studio, and during coffee breaks, I can also be found painting. While I’m away from my studio, I’m probably at the Iyengar yoga centre, or even more likely – at the cafe having some artisan coffee, and embarrassingly drawing on napkins when my sketchbook fills up.

Over the years, my style -or the way animation comes out of me- is becoming more concentrated. After the RCA is when I found myself stylistically. But I still find it super important to keep trying new things, and I see every new project as an opportunity to discover something exciting.

My recent video for Adult Swim, ‘Scooters‘ was a dream-brief, with loads of creative freedom. The song itself was written by the producer, David Hughes, on his commute to work. He had a vision for how the animation would develop narrative-wise, and I offered the style, direction and a few more ideas to the mix. We worked together on the rough storyline, then all hell broke loose!

For this project, I had to plan out my ideas, and made the storyboards and the animatic from the very beginning. Some points in the animation, like the space scene, allowed for adjustments or changes to the timing in “real time” whilst animating. But those bits of freedom were also kind of planned out!

The process included a little bit of back and forth, as Dave’s (healthy and just) rage about scooters meant he had a rather clear vision of the film he wanted to make. I added some bits to the story, characters and style, and he trusted my creative input when we had the rough idea all set.

Another project I’ve done with Adult Swim is ‘Sour’. It was my first time working with them, and it was the perfect brief – plus I was lucky enough to work with an absolute dream team! The brief was to create a short film about the theme of “love” – where anything goes. The final product had the awesome voice acting of Ryan O’Connor, and wonderful sound design and music by Skillbard.

For ‘Sour’, the limited colour palette emerged and developed rather intuitively. The bottle of milk is the main metaphor in this piece, and the colour palette helped to contrast the fresh milk scenes to the expired, bad milk scenes. The first feeling heavenly fresh in blues and whites, and the latter coloured in a kind of sickly green and black. It’s meant to communicate a really nourishing euphoric feeling, and later a dizzy and yucky one.

I wrote the script for this piece, and the inspiration behind it was the feeling one gets after a breakup. I wanted to capture a kind of twilight-zone of depression in an unrequited love situation. The guy is desperate for her attention, though he is aware that calling her is only going to cause him more disappointment. The film ends in a cycle, to reflect a helpless feeling of being trapped in this mood.

At the moment, I’m working on a nutty new project for Adult Swim, which I also wrote the script for, and will be directing and animating. Once again, I’ll be able to collaborate with the same dream team I had on ‘Sour’ – I feel like a spoiled director working with these talented guys, truly!

Every project I embark on brings something new and exciting to my process, and with each one comes new challenges, new ideas and new outcomes. If my style were a main road, every little experiment is an excursion to some cool new destination.