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Boxhead & Roundhead - On the Run, A Channel Frederator Featured Film

June 26th, 2007


Elliot Cowan is a very talented animator from Australia, now living and working in London. His popular shorts featuring an odd little duo named Boxhead and Roundhead are extremely well done and powerful in their quiet simplicity. Bhead & Rhead are what would happen if you combined Abbot & Costello with the DNA of Abstract art, add a touch of silent filmism on top of that and mix to fine cake batter of Awesomeness.
Elliot took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our Channel Frederator questions. Thanks Elliot.

1. How did you come up with the idea for this film?
This film is the 5th out of a current series of 6. The Roundhead characters existed in my work long before they had names or things to do. I had included similar images in my personal work, my exhibition pieces and doodles for years and years. One day I was driving to Devonport (in Tasmania) with a dear friend, and we saw an advertisement for some kind of shaped shrub by the side of the road.
They were called “Boxheads”. Thus was born the Boxhead character.
Initially I wrote and illustrated a series of three books with the characters in the hopes of having them published by someone. This was not to be, but instead of wasting characters I had been playing with and learning to love, I figured I’d just start animating the books. In “On The Run” all I really knew is that I wanted to make something where the characters started at two different points and met in the middle.
Strange basis for a film perhaps, but I try to be a unconventional whenever possible.

2. Who are some of your influences?
My artwork is mostly informed by illustrators.
Quentin Blake, Gerald Scarfe and Tove Jansson are probably the three that influenced me the most.
There are doubtless hundreds of other image makers that have left a mark on me, but I truly feel that my friends are a bigger influence on what I draw than anything else.
I can’t really cite many animation influences (that I am overtly aware of).
I was an obsessive cartoon watcher as a teenager but I am not so much anymore.
You’ll often see a bit of Chuck Jones my work, I think, as I was always especially fond of his films when I was younger.

3. What do you do when you get stuck creatively?
At the risk of sounding like an arrogant prick, I very rarely am.
I spent nearly 10 years in a very busy commercial production agency and you learn how to problem solve very efficiently in that situation.
The best I can offer is that if I am working on something (painting, drawing, writing, whatever) that doesn’t seem to be working, then I just stop and do something else.

4. Can you explain your process that went into creating this short?
It’s a little boring to explain really.
As mentioned, I started out with the idea that I wanted the characters to start at opposite ends of a place and run along and meet in the middle…
When I am working on them I pick a piece of appropriate music, in this case I used “Locked Out” by Crowded House and that kind of informs what happens (but not really).
I didn’t storyboard it or write anything.
I just make it up as I go along until I run out of song or get sick of it and want to do another.
Oftentimes I convince myself I’m finished but I’m not really, so I go back and tidy up some of the dodgy bits.
The characters are all drawn in Painter.
All the backgrounds are done in Photoshop.
The whole lot is animated and composited in After Effects, which I use because not only does the motion blur and in the ease in/out tool hide a multitude of animation sins (and looks nice too) but also because I find Flash to be completely baffling.

5. What are you working on currently?
At the moment, I’m on story duties for the feature film “Monstermania!”, currently in production at Uli Meyer Animation, which is proving to very exciting and entire barrels of fun.
I also have more Boxhead and Roundhead cartoons in the works including: Boxhead and Roundhead Go To War, Boxhead and Roundhead Move Away and Boxhead and Roundhead Meet Oscar Grillo.

Can’t wait to see more Adventures of these two little guys! Very cool! Thanks again!

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