By Sinéad Goldsboro
A recent meeting with Ballingarry animator and film maker David Quin at the studio in his back garden opened my eyes to the crazy and fascinating world of animation that was happening right on my doorstep.
The studio is an unassuming building from the outside, but once you step through the door you are really entering another world. From the miniature studio set with the lights and camera, poised and ready for action to all the props that are dotted around the room, including some from a number of years ago that he worked on with his father, such as Bailebeag, Tongue Twisters, Faherty’s Garden and Gregory Gráinneog which were part of the Bosco programme. As well as working as an animator/director, producing stop-motion and 3D animated series, short films and commercials, he is also a part-time lecturer at IADT Dun Laoghaire.
One of David’s current online projects - www.cutbacks.ie – is home to his own version of Col Gaddafi, Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Mr (Seamus) Heaney, Wayne Rooney and stars of next week’s Eurovision Jedward or as David calls them “the Jeds”. His characters are really amazing and funny little people and as it is web, the same boundaries as TV do not apply so expect to laugh out loud.
Darren Smith, a TV producer with Animo Productions who works with Jedward and Dustin the Turkey, saw what David was doing with the Jeds on cutbacks.ie and he loved it. He contacted David about doing something with him for Jedward’s Eurovision journey, for which Darren has created a programme that will air before the semi-final on Thursday night. As a result, David has supplied him with four animated takes of the Jed’s which will air at key points during Thursday’s programme – beginning, ad break and end. Who would have thought it, a little piece of Eurovision history in the Sliveardagh Hills. People may also be familiar with David and his work as he was recently on TV3 with the Cybil and Martin show. Programme Producer Richard Stern saw his work online and asked if he would go on the show. These opportunities are great for David as it keeps his name and talent in the world of TV and hopefully on the Programme Commissioners desk for his future projects.
David’s father, Jim Quin, set up the animation company in 1977 and while still at school David worked with his father at the company which was then based in Dublin. Jim was originally from Limerick but grew up in Thurles and moved to the area when the opportunity came up to buy the house where David now lives and they built a new studio in the back garden in 1984 after David returned from travelling and working abroad. That is the same studio David still works from today and all that has changed really is the technology. They went from using techniques developed by Walt Disney to a very impressive digital camera and high-tech computer systems that are being updated all the time. David is just back from an animation conference in Spain where the new buzz word is transmedia which incorporates all internet components making the internet more important than TV in the future of animation.
David makes all of the props and characters himself and really is a one man operation as he films, writes scripts and does the voices. Professor John Canemaker, award winning American animator who is one of the most highly respected teachers of animation in the world, suggested to David that he should try acting as a result of speaking to him. David worked as Brown Bag Films first CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) animator and later CGI Technical Director, on projects as diveres as TV ads for Fig Rolls to the Oscar nominated film “Give Up Your Auld Sins”.
In 2009, David produced a short retrospect film of his work for the Nenagh Film Week and the comedy element really stood out so he took that route when developing his cutbacks characters. David won the Best Film award for a short film based on his hugely successful and funny character Mr Heaney at the Galway Film Fleadh last year.
The film called ‘Mister Heaney, a week portrait’ has since been shown at film festival in Cork (which took the film to France and Liverpool), Chicago and Montreal where it was the second most popular film. He won the Best Animation award in the Fastnet Short Film Festival in 2010 for his work on a short film about mining involving children from the four schools of Ballingarry called “T’was a Terrible Hard Work”. He said that it can be difficult getting the films accepted to film festivals as the competition is so great and some festivals don’t have an animation category. Getting accepted is award in itself as the exposure is huge and the film will travel with these festivals.
The ultimate goal, of which there are a few for David, is to produce a series for TV and also a feature film. He would like to use his cutbacks characters for a TV series as they can be very topical and as political as he likes. The concept for a feature film would take his characters from cutbacks to a whole new level and really expand their characteristics.
He is currently working on a short film with the Mr Heaney character, basing him on Inspector Morse, solving crimes in Leitrim with the baddie being based on a well known controversail, outspoken, cannabis smoking T.D. It is completely off the wall and from the bits I have seen absolutely hilarious. The TV projects depend on getting commissions from the stations which can be difficult due to budgets. The Irish Film Board has been a great support to David over the years and he hopes to get funding from them for his feature film.
His wife, sculptor Katy Goodhue, thinks that he can live and breathe his characters too much sometimes especially his latest creation Rinky Dink who David sees as more his online blog than a character. Rinky is a rouge who can and will say whatever he likes and he will get away with it. David says that the whole family are involved in the project, as his three children will make suggestions to him at the breakfast table with his daughter having great ideas for his snail character in Rinky Dink. While the family is very creative, David and Katy are happy to let the children discover their own path in life and don’t discourage or over encourage them along the way.
David is also a lecturer in the Film and Media department at IADT in Dun Laoghaire. He lectures on film making, animation and CGI. He believes that a strong education in the technical side of the industry is ideal as it leaves the way open for the creativity to flow, which is what is needed for animation.
People applying to the course have to show that they have the interest, the ability to draw, or at least try to draw, and a strong work ethic, as it is a lot of hard work making an animated film. A good sense of humour is required – both for keeping sane during the long hours and for writing a script for whatever piece they are working on. There are only 30 places on the course but they will get over 400 applicants each year.
On parting company with David when we leave the studio, and in between the May rain showers, I wish him the very best for Thursday and the future, and he says that he hopes that with a new series and feature film he just might become an overnight success after 30 years.
Watch OMG! It’s Eurovision, RTE2, Thursday 12th May. Log on to www.cutbacks.ie and youtube.com/rinkytv