by Lauren Festa
Brooklyn-based animator Freddy Arenas was pretty happy with his ADC Bronze Cube win last year, but this year, he became a Gold Cube winner at the ADC 94th Annual Awards for his animated short “Beyond Years”.
Looking for an excuse to do a non-commercial project, Freddy discovered, vis a vis motiongrapher.com, the Modern Love series from The New York Times. The producer made an open call for submissions and within a week, Freddy was assigned to create animated video to accompany the article “In a Small Bag, She Packed All of Our Hopes.” The piece written by Tim McEown explores all-conquering love, the subject of age, and how much it matters in relationships. Tim and Sarah McEown had never considered that age was an obstacle in their relationship until Tim, 22-years Sarah’s senior, experienced a heart attack.
Inspired by the piece, Freddy wanted not just to tell the story and mirror the narrative, but to tell his version using metaphors to create new relationships between the images and the words. In this way, he gives the story a ‘second layer’.
“I think to just illustrate what the narration is saying is certainly a way to go, but pushing it into these directions feels like really using the media to your advantage as a story teller.”
Freddy sought out to explore rhetorical figures to make, what he calls, ‘a really poetic piece.’ He began by breaking the structure of the script, creating chapters, and finding the core idea of each section. Sifting out the metaphors, analogies, similes, and subconsciously choosing a melancholy color palette, Freddy begins to illustrate and storyboard the pieces to a cohesive structure.
While the story deals with age, the characters Freddy creates appear ageless, in that one is not visibly older than the other. Instead, he shows age through metaphors — like that of two trees — to show the passing of time. Growing and becoming entwined, one of the trees becomes too big, its branches too heavy, and eventually falls on top of the smaller tree. It can’t hold itself up any longer. It is aging before our eyes.
Watching Freddy’s animation is a transient, poetic and sometimes hypnotizing experience. “I really like the intricacy of the visual language,” he says, “…to stretch it as much as I can.”
In communicating emotion through photography, animation, illustration or even typography, when used properly, these mediums can be powerful and have the ability to present different points of view and communicate emotion.
“Animation is such an interesting media to create surreal worlds…and actions.”
Reading the article gives you one idea, and watching “Beyond Years” (a Vimeo Staff pick) shows another, complimentary perspective. “I think it’s an interesting process that goes on in someone’s head when reading or listening to a story without a visual companion” says Freddy. “Your brain provides you with the images. Most likely, it might be loose bits and pieces based on the memories and experiences you’ve had before.”
So, does age matter? For Freddy age is a state of mind, so it matters that you are in the right state of mind for the things you want to achieve.
Freddy would love to someday work on a full-length, animated feature film.
Look out for Freddy’s upcoming work in California Sunday Magazine.