Going West

Andersen M. Studio

How did you get into directing?
Andersen M Studio was founded by Martin Andersen in 2001 after having spent two years working with acclaimed graphic designer Vaughan Oliver at v23. Line [Martin’s sister] joined the company in 2006 upon graduating from Central State Martin with an MA. This created an interesting creative partnership between the siblings, having specialized in different disciplines (Martin in typography, photography and sound, and Line in stop-frame animation and hand-drawn typeface design). Line had created a stop-frame paper animation for her final year project whilst studying for her MA. This film received a lot of publicity and started getting us commercial animation work. The first commission was to create six 20-second animations for in-house screenings for the Southbank Centre and secondly a commission from Nokia to create a one-minute animation for in-store screenings at their flagship stores. In the past one-and-a-half years the studio has had their  first two TV commercials first for TV channel More4 where they partly directed (with Siri Bundford) the trailer for Ian McKellen’s Shakespeare Season and most recently the much talked about two-minute stop-frame animation “Going West” for the New Zealand Book Council, commissioned by Colenso BBDO. The film was shown both as a national cinema and TV commercial in New Zealand, and has already had more than 750,000 hits on YouTube.

What is your most recent project?
We just finished another stop-frame animation for PanMacmillan (publisher). A two-minute film to promote Kate Morton’s forthcoming book “The Distant Hours.” It’s much darker and surreal than Going West. It will be used as a viral campaign near the publication date of the novel. It has been a very interesting project where we were able to experiment with our animation techniques using live fire and pigment dust.

What is the best part of being a director?
To be able to write and create stories and express them in a metaphorical way. We also love photography and sound and it’s fantastic to be able to merge the two. It’s a new and exciting medium for us to work in.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons)
and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?

We have both been trained in visual communication and have specialized in different disciplines such as photography, animation, typography and music, but in terms of directing film we are both self taught. We both love films and have a huge collection of DVDs. A quote that resonates with the both of us is Robert Doisneau’s “To suggest is to create, to describe is to destroy”; that seems to fit with most of the artwork we create.

Who is your favorite director and why?
There are so many that it is difficult to choose just one. Amongst our favorites are: Kenneth Anger, Jean Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Aki Kaurismaki, Jacques Tati and Alejandro Jodorowsky. If we have to chose just one, we would pick David Lynch. His ability to merge sound and image is so inspiring and we both love his mysterious and surreal storytelling. The most important thing about his films is not necessarily to fully understand them, as long as one feels something powerful inside.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
This is as difficult as to pick one single director. Amongst our favourite movies are: Kenneth Anger-Invocation of My Demon Brother, Jean Luc Goddard-Breathless, Werner Herzog-Fitzcarraldo,  Aki Kaurismaki-Drifting Clouds.  David Lynch-Lost Highway, Lasse Hallstrom-My Life As a Dog, John Waters-Polyester… But to pick just one each: movie for Martin Andersen—Jacques Tati-Playtime.
Movie for Line Andersen: John Waters- Female Trouble. TV commercials: Line and Martin Andersen—David Lynch’s “Parisienne People.”

Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
We are both from a small fishing town in Denmark called Sonderborg. We both moved to London to study Visual Communication Design and graduated with a MA. Martin from The Royal College of Art and Line from Central Saint Martins. Martin worked for two years with Vaughan Oliver (v23) designing record sleeves and fashion catalogues, before setting up Andersen M Studio in 2001. Upon graduating in 2006 Line joined the company full time.