Darcy Prendergast from Australia on the joy of creating animated characters
The name Darcy reminds me of the prim and proper character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. So when I meet Darcy Prendergast I expect to see a rather uptight, tousled-haired gentleman in a suit. But instead he has matted dreadlocks, is clad in a pair of Berumudas and is peering at animated figures on a computer screen. Darcy, an animation specialist from Australia, was in Chennai to conduct a seminar on “Animation Magic” organised by BIG AIMS Centre and the Australian Consulate-General, Mumbai and supported by the Australian High Commission, New Delhi. “This is my first visit here but definitely not my last. I like it here and am planning to come back to shoot my next venture. And as for the heat, I can deal with that. It gets pretty hot in Australia too,” he grins.
Twenty-six-year-old Darcy's first works would probably be the ones he doodled on the walls of his house. “After that my parents promptly got me numerous sheaves of papers,” he laughs, adding, “Cartoons and animation films appealed to me so much that I decided to make a career of it. It's beautiful. You can create anything …it's pure expression.” His parents too were supportive of his ideas. While his father instilled in him a passion for writing and story telling, his mother taught him new mediums of art including stitching and crochet.
“I was 16 and I studied in the second worst high school in Victoria and my art teacher didn't know who Picasso was. Luckily I got a scholarship at Mowbrays College and there I got to experiment with clay animation.” Clay animation or claymation involves creating a clay sculpture first and therefore could be a painstaking process. “I love sculpting, story-telling, film making so it works fine for me,” smiles the animator. With so many types of animation series and films hitting the screens, what according to him is the most popular? “Audiences are interested in a good story. The medium is irrelevant.”
Apart from animation films such as “Ron the Zookeper”, “Mary and Max”, and shows such as ‘The Critter Litter' on Nickelodeon, Darcy also produces advertisements and music videos. His most popular music videos are ‘Rippled' and ‘Lucky' for the band All India Radio and ‘Nerds in Love' for Fergus Brown. His next project titled “Loss to Gain,” is an autobiographical animation production that narrates the tale of how the animator as a child lost his baby brother and his journey in the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately his works don't air on television channels here but for those interested look up YouTube. (or log onto ohyeahwow.com)
Giving life to imaginative characters can be a lot of hard work. So what does he do to de-stress? “I play the drums, skate, play cricket and soccer; rock climb…Actually my work doesn't stress me out. If you love what you do then it's not work at all. And this is exactly what I told the students here today,” and with that he goes back to the moving figures on the screen.