When Justin Hilden heard about GoComics' Short Shorts Animation Contest a few months ago, the timing could not have been better. An independent animator based in Burbank, California, Hilden specializes in animated shorts, and was working on a new one about creatures whiling away their free time during old age. His creation, "Aged in the Wood," was one of three finalists for the innaugural Short Shorts contest. To view "Aged in the Wood" and the nine other finalist and semi-finalist animations, click here.
"I was so happy to be able to develop this one for the contest, and it gave me a handy deadline, which is a great motivator for me," Justin said.
We recently caught up with Justin to talk about his inspiration for "Aged in the Wood," and other thoughts around animation.
GoComics: What inspired you to create this animated short? How did you come up with the idea?
What if woodland animals had retirement communities? I wanted to see that world: where the animals like those we knew in children's books had grown old and were trying to get along. I wanted to create a showcase for the disagreements, laughter, and care of older animals. I recently had spent a lot of time in hospitals and care facilities, and I began sketching animals that might live in places like that, deep in the woods.
GoComics: Who are your biggest creative influences?
I've long been inspired by the thoughtfulness and draftsmanship of Bill Watterson, early 1950s-era Charles Schultz, and Bill Peet. My animation influences are Nick Park and Peter Lord from Aardman Animations, and independent animators like Emma de Swaef and Alex Grigg.
GoComics: What is your all-time favorite animated feature?
It's difficult to pick just one, but if I must, then I pick Ratatouille! It is lyrical, well-paced, and beautiful!
GoComics: What is the most challenging part of the animation process for you?
For me it is the scheduling: the practicality of getting so much work done in a short amount of time, and the inevitable deciding of what I must let go!
GoComics: What do you envision yourself doing in five years?
It's hard to see – but I know I'll still be making animated shorts! I can't stop making them.
GoComics: How did you learn about the Short Shorts contest? Why did you decide to participate (besides the $25,000 grand prize)?
A friend of mine let me know about the contest – and the timing was just right. I was already underway storyboarding a short-form, simple piece of animation, and I felt that it could easily be made into a serialized "moving comic strip."
To learn more about Justin Hilden and his creative process on animated shorts like "Aged in the Wood" and "Oh, Possum," visit his website here.