Tom DesLonchamp is the filmmaker, RISD graduate, video game developer and swashbuckling daredevil who’s most recently responsible for an almost overwhelmingly endearing animated Jookabox music video. But that’s not all. DesLongchamp is a multi-disciplinary whiz kid. He’s generated a wide gamut of rapturously kinetic artwork, from the childhood cartoon pastiche of his short film Kid Show to a bizarre counter-documentary study of domesticated cats entitled About Dogs.
Browsing through his website is almost exhilarating, as you stumble onto unexpected creative endeavors like a visual Facebook diary and an informative animation about dental hygiene. Regardless of the medium or the subject, DesLongchamp seems to take an effervescent, fearless approach to life. While his devil may care attitude may have landed him in the hospital once or twice (due to tarping-related injuries), it’s also taken him to excitingly fresh creative ground. Check out our interview with Tom below.
How did you end up making the video for “You Cried Me”? What got you into Jookabox, and where did the concept for the video come from?
Last year I was introduced to Michael Kaufmann, who does A&R/Development for Asthmatic Kitty Records. He gave me Jookabox’s album Ropechain to listen to for game or music video ideas. I listened to the album a lot and became very familiar with its themes. I ended up creating a flash video game for the track “Girl Ain’t Preggers.” Almost a year later, Michael contacted me about doing something new for Jookabox’s new album, Dead Zone Boys. I listened to it and “You Cried Me” struck me with its energy. The song automatically conjured gestures of movement in my mind–not entirely specific to characters or images. The essence was something like a “let’s get the hell out of here” kind of feeling. I just held onto that emotion and started drawing ghosts. It was exciting to dive into a spooky theme, since it contrasted so much with my last animation, Kid Show.
There was never a point where I figured it all out. I just followed my intuition. The whole video was animated chronologically, as in, I started with the first shot, and ended with the last. I didn’t know who the characters were till I was animating them. It was a constant step into the unknown. It was liberating to have a process that somewhat coincided with the spirit of the music. Of course, this is just my interpretation.
Kid Show and Teeth Care are both comically disconcerting shorts, and seem somewhat satirical– do you consider them to be for kids? What attracts you to animating for children? Do you plan on pursuing that style further?
My hope is that they’re for everyone. Teeth Care was for an educational CD-Rom (for kids) gig, back in 2006. They gave me a ton of freedom, so I took their script and created what I wanted to see. People have told me that I remind them of a kid, not in the cliche wild-goofball way, but more by the way I see and explain things. I’m not sure why that is, but it might stem from the fact that I am a very visual person.
Kid Show was obviously an exploration of the children’s genre, but I’d hate for it to be classified as an actual kids show. I’d also hate for it to be classified as a satire, because that wasn’t my intention. I wanted to express the joy of being a kid. That’s for everyone to enjoy. Looking back, I think I was naive (and still am) but that’s part of what being a kid is. I do see childhood as a common theme in the future of my work, but I wouldn’t say that I’ll be pursuing it as blatantly as Kid Show. “You Cried Me” had more edge, and I want to pursue that as well.
What are the ideal conditions for tarping? What got you into tarping, and have you dared to tarp since your 2006 accident?
Ideal conditions = 20′ x 40′ blue tarp, at least two people, 25-35mph gusts, onlookers, and wet grass. One bonus is if there is a hill with the wind blowing up it–that way you get pulled up the hill and it seems more amazing… and its also easier on your body, since you can just lean back.
Tarping started roughly 8 years ago on top of a garage roof (not mine) during a wind storm in Seattle. Two friends of mine had a small tarp, probably a 10′ square and were trying to do what every kid that age does. No injuries occurred, but when I heard about it, I got psyched and grabbed my dad’s 20′ x 40′ monster that I had helped him fold countless times, and ran out to try it in my backyard. We had to call it something, so I called it the most obvious thing you could: tarping. Tarping isn’t a new thing, I just gave it a name. Next week, people will be doing it with Tyvek, and they’ll call it Tyveking.
Yes, I’ve done it since my accident, and I’ll continue to, but I am more cautious about it. Grass ONLY, and nothing higher than 45mph gusts.
Are you working on any new projects? What are you dreaming about working on?
I have so many ideas, my dream is to have time to do them. For animation, I have two ideas floating around. One involves a guy in a panda suit waiting for a party to start, inspired by true events, and another possible series idea of a guy who explains stuff that he doesn’t really know much about… like he’s filling in for someone.
I’m also always drawing, taking photos, and hope to someday try to do showings. Also in the process of learning music theory. I have a secret project I’ve been working on for 2 years. It’s a writing project, and it’s live right now, but I can’t say where.
My dream is to keep doing more of what I’m doing now.
Cats: they pop up in a lot of your work. Why are they so great?
Because they actually do pop up INTO my work. Aside from jumping and walking all over everything I make, there has also been times where they’ve walking into frame during a video shoot. This is a prime example. Renton is an excellent actor.
During my senior year at RISD, Renton and I became very close friends while I worked on Kid Show. He used to jump up and stand on my light table while I was trying to draw. Since then, we’ve acquired another cat, Reuben, whom I also love. I didn’t grow up with cats, so they’re kind of new to me, and they’re so fun/easy to draw. They can quickly transform from a triumphant lion-like pose, to a puddle of chunky fur with random legs and paws sticking out. They have a lot of personality.