Nina Paley, animator

Nina Paley | ART/BTS

Urbana-based animator, cartoonist, and quilter Nina Paley discusses her evolution from stop-motion filmmaker to syndicated cartoonist to feature film animator.


Photos and animation footage courtesy of Nina Paley.


Follow Nina and see more of her work here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ninapaley

Website: http://ninapaley.com

>>> WELL, I WAS INTERESTED IN ART FROM A VERY EARLY AGE AND EVERYBODY WAS INTERESTED IN ART.
EVERYBODY DREW. EVERYBODY PAINTED.
OTHER PEOPLE STOPPED DOING THAT AT SOME POINT, AND I DIDN’T STOP.
WHEN I WAS 13, 12 OR 13, I WANTED TO TRY ANIMATION.
AND MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR, CLARK MCFALL LENT ME HIS SUPER 8 CAMERA, AND I DID SUPER 8 ANIMATION IN THE BASEMENT OF MY PARENT’S HOUSE.
I COULDN’T REALLY DEVELOP IT FURTHER BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO A CAMERA STAND OR WIDER GAUGE OF FILM OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
SO BY THE TIME I WAS MAYBE 14, I JUST COMPLETELY GAVE UP ON ANIMATION AND DECIDED TO FOCUS ON MORE DRAWING.
I THINK WHEN I WAS 15, I DID MY FIRST COMIC, AND I CONTINUED DOING COMICS FOR MANY YEARS.
THEN I ACHIEVED MY DREAM OF BEING A SYNDICATED CARTOONIST, AND THAT WAS WHEN I STARTED BURNING OUT OF COMICS.
I HAD TO DO SOMETHING NEW THAT WAS CHALLENGING, THAT WAS NOT MY JOB, AND I DECIDED TO PICK UP THE ANIMATION WHERE I LEFT OFF.
SO I BORROWED A FRIEND’S SUPER 8 CAMERA AND JUST STARTED WHERE I LEFT OFF, AND I MADE A FILM CALLED “LOVE IS.”
AND THAT IS SORT OF WHEN I GOT HOOKED.
SO I REALLY LIKE DOING ANIMATION BASED ON MYTHS.
BY MYTH, I MEAN A STORY THAT IS SHARED BY MANY, MANY PEOPLE.  IT IS REALLY DELIGHTFUL TO INTERPRET STORIES LIKE THAT BECAUSE THE AUDIENCE CAN RECOGNIZE THINGS IN IT.
“SITA SINGS THE BLUES” IS AN ANIMATED MUSICAL FEATURE BASED ON THE RAMAYANA, AND IT SET TO THE MUSIC OF ANNETTE HANSHAW.
IT HAS MULTIPLE NARRATIVE STRANDS THAT ARE ALL TELLING THE SAME STORY, AND IT ALSO HAS FIVE VISUAL STYLES.
AND “SEDER MASOCHISM” IS BASED ON THE PASSOVER STORY THAT I GREW UP WITH. THAT’S THE PROJECT I AM WORKING ON NOW. THE FIRST SCENE IN “CEDAR MASOCHISM” THAT I FINISHED IS ACTUALLY GOING
TO BE THE LAST SCENE IN THE FILM AND THAT’S CALLED “THIS LAND IS MINE.”
PUT IT ONLINE A COUPLE YEARS AGO, AND SORT OF WENT CRAZY VIRAL LAST SUMMER AND HAS BEEN SEEN MORE THAN TEN MILLION TIMES.
I SPENT THIS SUMMER ANIMATING ANOTHER SCENE, “DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN EGYPTIANS,” THAT WILL BE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM THAT TOTALS TEN MINUTES THAT IS DONE AND ONLINE.
AND TEN DOWN, 62 TO GO.
(LAUGHING)              MY NAME IS NINA PALEY.
I AM AN ANIMATOR, ARTIST, AND QUILTER, AND I LIVE IN URBANA ILLINOIS, AND I GREW UP IN URBANA ILLINOIS.