The Weight of William Tully, 2004
—Written/Directed/Animated, Jim Downer
—Music, David Shaw
—Narration, Diana J. Rayner
—Hand Drawn, 2D animation
—Paint on Glass, Direct Under Camera
—Digitally Composited, AE
—3 Minutes

It took time to get used to this film. An independent production for sure, full of textural flaws and fingerprints. Although I was never completely satisfied with the result, it's most certainly one of my favorite experiences. For the most part, paint on glass is a single-pass process. A—what you do under the camera, is what you get method of animating. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I do enjoy working directly with tangible materials.

Looking back—the story's structure began as a triad, containing classical Hellenic elements and some of the animals that lived within them. From that the language the film grew—layers, symbols, metaphors. I enjoy writing, and telling stories. I'm not sure if it was a conscious decision or not, but there is certainly an influence form the 1962 live action film, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge ( vimeo.com/15147706 ). A film well worth watching and studying.

The sound effects are original recordings. When I found myself getting frustrated with the animation, I'd take time to record the sounds listed in my sketchbook. Even if I didn't achieve one frame of animation that day, the project moved forward.

So here it is, an odd little story about a sad character attempting suicide by jumping off a bridge. Although the film contains a few uncomfortable moments, it was never intended to be a morbid or glorified depiction of death. How others receive and interpret its meaning has always been of interest to me, as well as a source of anxiety. Perhaps the film has some value for discussion, maybe not, I don't know for sure. Film is like any other artform, different people carry different things away from the experience.

In the end, the film did well. It screened in a local theater, took third place in a regional competition, and made it into a few festivals. Pulled from viewing early, I was happy that it had run a complete course as a film—from vision to viewer.

Jim Downer, 12/27/2011

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