Psyop Takes Annecy Animation Festival 2016!
Each year in the charming town of Annecy, France, hordes of creatives, students, studios, and distributors all come together over the course of a week entirely dedicated to the art of animation. Upon the 40th Anniversary of the Annecy Film Festival, Psyop Director/Founder Marie Hyon and Executive Producer Amanda Miller joined the festivities, bringing the true Psyop spirit with them all along the way. Now that their adventures have come to a close and they've returned safely, we sat down with Marie and Amanda to get the inside scoop on all things Annecy 2016.
For those who are unfamiliar, what does an event like Annecy Fest mean for you?
Amanda Miller: Overall it’s a great melting pot for creatives to share, connect and view work in a beautiful environment surrounded by like minded people that are inspired by all things animation. This was our first year, but we’re excited to be there in the future. It was such a unique festival that personally left me feeling recharged, ready to come back here and move onto making some more awesome stuff!
Marie Hyon: You often get a lot of film festivals that are always the same type of thing. The same screenings, the same panels, etc. But what we loved about Annecy was the feeling of it being a festival that was ultimately a shared experience. Amanda and I felt like we got to connect with so many people and have actual conversations that left us feeling full.
Give us some insight into how Psyop played a part in this year’s showcase?
AM: This year we had one of our branded content pieces “The Letter” in the Advertising as Art category. We were also invited to speak about the project and Psyop, as well as show our work.
Tell us a bit about the presentation you two gave while there?
AM: Well initially we were asked to simply do a Q&A following the screening of the spot that was in competition at Annecy this year, “The Letter.” That would have been just fine, but we felt that it might be fun to do something that would stand apart from the rest of the filmmakers who were also participating in the post-show Q&A.
MH: After discussing a few ways that we could attack this opportunity from a different angle, we landed on turning our time into more of a storytelling session. Most people don’t know what Psyop is truly all about, what we stand for, and for that matter, they’ve never heard the story of how we got started. So instead of the Q&A, Amanda and I dove into more of a historical breakdown of Psyop.
So this Psyop storytelling… Could you give us a condensed version of what the audience got to hear?
MH: We basically just started from the beginnings of Psyop and broke down each step along the way from there. One thing that is usually an unknown, is how “Psyop” came to serve as our company name. Back in the nineties, Todd Mueller and Eben Mears (fellow founders of Psyop) were strolling around the East Side in NYC when they stumbled into this little spy shop. It was in this shop that they found a pamphlet on what “Psyop” meant in terms of the government, explaining that it stood for Psychological Operations. The purpose of these operations was to use selective information and to convey that information in a way that will prompt certain emotions, responses, and ideas from the intended audience. This intrigued Todd and Eben; and so from right there that intention was created at the very initial process of choosing our name. We wanted this shared motto to ring clear: Persuade. Change. Influence.
(Original Psyop studio, New York - 2000)
(Justin Booth-Clibborn, Marie Hyon and Marco Spier, The Psyop Early Days)
(A dailies meeting in the original Psyop studio - 2001)
(Work break in the original studio... Some things never change.)
Did you touch on certain aspects of how you both do what you do in your respective roles at Psyop?
AM: I loved the fact that we got to shed light on the perspectives of an Executive Producer (me) and a Director (Marie) and how we approach each project in relation to that. Regardless of what part you play here at Psyop though, our drive to tell a good story stretches all across the board. We always want our work and creative process to truly mean something. There has to be a passionate reason as to why we take these projects on.
MH: As a Director, you know that with each project you take on, you’re also submitting your team to 2-3 months of intense devotion to the work. So with every single opportunity, I first need to make sure it really resonates and it’s going to be worth it for everyone. The Director’s approach from the get-go sets the tone; so you want to make sure the entire creative journey is a full and fun one.
(Coca-Cola: "Happiness Factory")
Beyond “The Letter” what Psyop work did you share in your presentation?
AM: Since we had our focus on Psyop’s inception, we wanted to share some classic spots that initially put us on the map. This included Coca-Cola’s “Happiness Factory” from back in , MTV’s “Crow”, “Something’s Lurking” for LG and a beautifully dark piece titled “Emerge.” As Psyop has expanded, more people are familiar with our recent work but there is a lot of great stuff from the archives that they have no idea we made.
MH: The reason why we wanted “Emerge” in the mix was because it actually never aired publicly. In the end, the client killed it but we saw it through to it’s finish because we still knew how incredible it could be. That’s the thing about how Psyop artists look at their work - We believe that WHAT we make is more important that WHY we are initially making it. The bottom line is that we always want to see good art through to the end, no matter who may or may not see it.
(LG: "Something's Lurking")
(Directed By Lauren Indovina: "Emerge")