The Whale Story

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Nov 252011

A fisherman experiences a moment of connection with a female humpback whale in the waters off of San Francisco. Is this an example of inter-species communication or a mysterious fluke? This true story is retold in paint on a 16 foot high wall with the help of the passing public in Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park. Watch the timelapse here:

Directed and Animated by:
Tess Martin

Additional Animators:
Webster Crowell
Stefan Gruber
Britta Johnson
Amanda Moore

DK Pan

Music & Audio:
Spencer Thun

Jenny Asarnow
Alec Deason
Emily Eagle
Marc Hobbs
Ilana Holmes
Britt Madsen
Tristan Parker
Anthony Sonnenberg

Katie Durant-Storey
Alma Khasawnih
Shannon MacIntyre
Britt Madsen
Doug Mora
Houria Rollosson
Venus Volante

This story was originally heard in the
Radiolab podcast ‘Animal Minds’
and was animated primarily
over one weekend in
Seattle’s Cal Andersen Park

Made Possible by:
Sound Transit

The Whale Story wall video at Art Walk on Thursday

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Nov 092011

Tess Martin directs actor DK Pan as fellow animators wait their turn

For those of you that stopped by the animator’s wall (Wallrus) the weekend of Oct 1 & 2, you may have noticed a bunch of crazy people animating giant murals. The story, about a whale being freed from fishing nets, is part of Tess Martin’s film about animal-human relationships. I still need to reshoot some scenes, so the segment is not completed yet, but you will be able to see the work-in-progress, starring actor/artist DK Pan, at the Capitol Hill Art Walk this Thursday, 5:30PM-8:30PM (at the Green Door studio, 1520 11th Ave, above Purr). Come by and check it out!

Note I will only be there until 8:30PM, so if you want to catch it, come early.

Inter-Action: La Peniche Cinema, Paris, France

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Oct 292011

Tess Martin’s travel blog:

This is my last entry on this tour! Last night was the Paris screening of the Inter-Action program (actually only half of the program due to time restrictions). It was pretty awesome. This event was held at La Peniche Cinema, a cinema….on a boat! ‘Peniche’ means canal boat in French. The boat is moored in l’Oucq canal, inside Parc de la Villete, a very modern park with lots of red blocky buildings, sculptures and open space. Very ‘unlike Paris’ as my friend put it. La Peniche is run by Gabriele Brennen and they show the most short films in the whole of France!

The event was also sponsored by AFCA, Association Francaise du Cinema d’Animation, and was in fact, part of the 10th Fete du Cinema d’Animation organized by AFCA. AFCA is an organization that was born independent of ASIFA France, the French chapter of the international animation organization, but within the last 10 years the two have joined forces. They now organize a festival every year during the month of October across the whole of France. And our event was in fact on Oct 28th, official international ‘animation day’.

The Seattle animations were screened first, followed by a selection of French films – mostly from a studio called Planktoon, that makes their own films, but also does ads and idents for television stations. This produced an interesting mix of independent vs. commercial animation, and some remarked on the irony that it was the Americans who were making experimental work, and the French more commercial work. But amongst the French films there was one real gem – an independent film by French/Japanese filmmaker Momoko Seto called ‘Planet Z’. I’m still hazy on the details, but apparently she got a residency and producer through an Annecy Film Festival competition to make this film. Lots of timelapse photography, some of very very, small things. Watch the trailer below, it’s awesome.

Juliette from AFCA and Gabriele from La Peniche led the Q&A after, and I got a lot of interesting questions about techniques, distribution methods, and motivation. There must have been about 40 people there, and it was probably the most enthusiastic audience of the tour. Thank you to Gabriele and Juliette for the hard work!

La Peniche Cinema!

Boat up front


Cinema before the screen was lowered

A Paris metro map revelas its layers



Inter-Action: VERA, Groningen, The Netherlands

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Oct 182011

Tess Martin’s travel blog:

Groningen is a town about two and a half hours (by train) north of Amsterdam. I don’t know much about it, but it has a few big universities, nice traditional architecture downtown, and is home of VERA, a volunteer-run organization that has been around for years. They host 3 or 4 live music gigs a week, and once a week they have a film night. They have a big live music venue, but also a bar in the cellar, a cafe area upstairs for the staff, and a hotel or sorts at the back of the building for bands and itinerant film directors.
I arrived and was very nicely met at the station by David Raats, seasoned volunteer. After a tech check and dinner at a nearby organic restaurant it was time for the show! The volunteers transformed the empty live music room into a cinema by installing risers, chairs, curtains, projector and screen. They do that every week! That’s dedication. The 60 or so seats got pretty full, and the Inter-Action program was preceded by 30 minutes of animations from Groningen filmmakers. No serious technical difficulties, and some interesting questions and mingling in the bar afterwards. Success! Thank you to David, Rob and Matt for a fun evening!

Next up, the Amsterdam Part II event at the Eye Film Institute tonight!

VERA entrance - yes, that is a poster for the Inter-Action event you see in the lower right!

Our poster!

Cinema with program on the screen

Lovely accommodation - thanks Vera!

Inter-Action: De Nieuwe Anita, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Oct 172011

Tess Martin’s travel blog – Sunday Oct 16th:

I arrived in Amsterdam after a few lovely days at a friend’s place in The Hague. De Nieuwe Anita is a funky venue near the Jordaan neighborhood of the city with lots of space – they have a large circular bar in the front room that doubles as a live music stage some nights, with lots of couches. The presentation space is down some stairs and can be used for live music as well as movies. This screening was a slightly different program from the regular Inter-Action program, and functioned as a Part I to the EYE Film Institute screening (also in Amsterdam) on Tuesday. The screening room got pretty full of people, only 1 of whom was a friend of mine! Some interesting questions after as well. I totally blanked on taking pictures this time, so these below are not mine but from the internets. Tonight (the 17th) is the VERA screening in Groningen!

De Nieuwe Anita

De Nieuwe Anita bar area

Inter-Action: Star and Shadow Cinema, Newcastle, UK

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Oct 142011

Tess Martin’s travel blog:

I got into Newcastle yesterday around noon, and was met by Mat Fleming, one of the programmers at the Star and Shadow Cinema, an alternative space that has been around about ten years. I spent a few hours walking around the city, and swinging by the Northumbria University and Newcastle University campuses – Northumbria is the one that has an animation course in their media department. By the description in their prospectus it seems quite commercially oriented, but apparently they’ve just hired a few animation tutors who are more broad-minded. In fact, a bunch of their students came to the screening that evening.

Mat and I swung by the private view of a video art exhibition curated by a friend of his, and settled in at the cinema. The seats got quite full, and Mat said about half the people were new faces to him – probably the animation students mentioned earlier. The Inter-Action screening went well despite a technical hiccup, and there were interesting questions afterwards about distribution, funding and techniques. The cinema has a nice bar area out front where everyone mingled into the late hours.

The evening was capped off by a late night rescue of Claus the cat, who had gotten himself stuck down in a basement patio 8 feet below ground level. We finally had to lower a ladder and the cat climbed straight up. The next morning he mauled a bird and brought it, still alive, to the front door. Thank you, perhaps?

Thanks very much to Mat and his welcoming, inspiring housemates for such a fun time!

Friday I take the train to the Netherlands, and the next event is at De Nieuwe Anita in Amsterdam on Sunday, Oct 16th.

Sheep on the way to Newcastle

entrance to the Star and Shadow cinema

front bar area


Inter-Action: University of Brighton, Brighton, UK

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Oct 112011

From Tess Martin’s travel blog – on tour with SEAT films:

On Monday, Oct 10th I took the train south for an hour to Brighton. I visited the University of Brighton, where I graduated from with a BA Fine Art Sculpture in 2007. This time, though, I was visiting the new Moving Image course, to give a talk about my work, show a selection of the Inter-Action program, and discuss the Seattle Experimental Animation Team. It went well! There were about 25-30 students, mostly Moving Image, but also Illustration, and I could tell that a few of them really valued the experience, as Brighton doesn’t have strong focus on animation normally.

I then spent the day catching up with my old city and old friends. The West pier (below) was visibly more deteriorated than last time I saw it.


Front door of the University of Brighton Grand Parade campus


The Moving Image BA/MFA room

Brighton's West Pier


Inter-Action: Horse Hospital, London, England

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Oct 082011

From Tess Martin’s travel blog – on tour with SEAT films:

And so it begins. The weather is really much better above the clouds, as you can see from this shot of Mt Rainier as I left Seattle.


Mt Rainier above the clouds

After a layover in Reykjavik I arrived the next day, and went straight to the venue for a tech check. The event wasn’t until the next day, but you can never be too careful.

The Inter-Action screening at the Horse Hospital was a success! The space was respectably full, and though many friends from my old University came, about half were people I didn’t know personally. Apparently it was in the London Time Out magazine – yes, I’ll be sure to get a copy.

The venue was interesting – the building used to be an actual horse hospital and the screening room used to be the operating theatre. All in all a good night.

Next up: University of Brighton tomorrow for a class visit to the Moving Image MA, and on Wednesday, Newcastle!


London venue

Below U.S. video premiering at Art Walk!

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Oct 052011

Below U.S. is a multi-media play about hybrid identity directed by Tikka Sears and Manuel Castro. Tess Martin made some animated segments for it and it was a great experience. It ran at the Ethnic Cultural Theater June 2-4, 2011. The edited video of the play will premiere this Thursday during the Pioneer Square Art Walk at Tikka and Manuel’s studio inside the Tashiro Kaplan building.  Here is a little more practical information from Tikka:

The 8th Annual Tashiro-Kaplan Open Studios
Thursday October 6th
115 Prefontaine PL. S. # 501
Seattle, WA 98104
Come to first Thursday on October 6th at the Tashiro-Kaplan Building in Pioneer Square.
There will be performances, Open Studios, Open Galleries, Music and Live Art!
We are in Loft #501 on the fifth floor…….come and visit us.
Manuel and I will have our studio open and will be screening the edited video of Below U.S. A Multimedia Play about Hybrid Identity at 7:00PM and 8:00PM.
Manuel will be displaying glass.  We hope that you can join us for what it always a fun and festive event.  Many of the resident artists will have their studios open and there will be various performances and activities going on through out our fabulous building.
We hope you can make it.
Below U.S. was made possible with funding from The Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and 4 Culture.