This is one of a short series of interviews on artists who are featured in our special and upcoming edition of INtransit: Can You Hear Me Now. G. Melissa Graziano’s animation, Love on the Line was featured on Cartoon Brew. It is an amazing work out of cutouts, featuring long distance love in the Victorian era
What inspired you with the original storyline?
I was driving around Westwood (the area of L.A. where UCLA is) and I had what I
thought was a funny image pop into my head: a very prim and proper Victorian
gentleman doing a Tex Avery take (bugging eyes, huge salivating tongue, wolf howls)
as he talks to his prim and proper girlfriend over the telegraph. Later that day, I
did a sketch of the idea in my sketchbook. About six months later, when I needed an
idea for my second-year film, I went back into my old sketchbooks and found the
drawing. I thought it was a good, simple idea and decided to run with it.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s about two lovers sending messages on a telegraph line. I thought “love on the
line” was a commonly used phrase that just fit the premise perfectly. I don’t
actually know where it comes from.
What interested you with the Victorian era setting?
I thought about the characters and why they would be apart, and
why they’d even have access to telegraph machines, since not everyone did in those
days–the telegraph was more akin to a courier service than a telephone service. So
I had Phineas’s father be a major player in the newly-constructed cross-continental
American railroad system. It wasn’t really important to the story, but it gave the
setting a bit more authenticity. As for Elizabeth, her family is just ridiculously
wealthy and very high on the social ladder, so I figured her parents would be the
first in their neighborhood to have their own telegraph machine in their parlor.
How did you make the set for the animation?
I did a lot of reseach on Victorian era furniture, architecture, wallpaper designs
and paintings. I designed the sets in Photoshop first, then painted the backgrouds
in watercolor on huge sheets of watercolor paper. I painted the furniture separately
and then cut it out and pasted it onto the set; I only just started using watercolor
paint as a medium when I started this project, so I wanted to make sure I could
control how my set looked as much as possible. Both sets are flat so that I could
lay the cut-out puppets on top and shoot the animation with a digital camera
suspended above the set.
What excites/interests you as an artist/animator?
I love using different animated media to tell stories in ways that I can’t do any
other way. It’s really exciting to take two different things and put them together
in ways no one has seen or done before. I always try to have the medium I’m working
in match with the story. In this case, I tried to use a paper doll technique to tell
a story that takes place in the 1870s because the Gibson style is iconic for that
time period. I didn’t use that exact aesthetic, but it inspired me to creat my own
designs. I almost used silhouettes, but decided against it in the end.
Interview by sam smiley
Love on the Line can be seen on Cartoon Brew at http://www.cartoonbrew.com/brewtv/loveontheline.html