1. How did the journey at Animasyros start and what have you gained from participating in the workshops?
I have been working with Animasyros since the first year, that is, from the beginning – its beginning. In that edition, I had come with a group of my students who were attending animation optional courses at the then Department of Graphic Design of the TEI of Athens. We created small spots with different techniques with the Cycladic figurine that represents the festival as a hero. I was also on the jury.
I have been teaching animation at the TEI of Athens since 1986, along with my involvement as a freelancer in creating animated spots for television. This means that I gradually transferred my know-how from Animasyros 2 and onwards at a younger age and so I understood what it is like to teach to a group of people who are not designers or graphic designers.
Every opportunity offered to young people opens up paths they could not have imagined. Therefore, some of the children who constantly attend the workshops all these years, going up in age groups, I believe that yes, if they end up studying the medium and working in Greece, they will contribute to the development of Greek animation. A positive example is Ms. Effie Pappa, a very dynamic creator today that was a participator in the workshops of Animasyros 1 as a student of Graphic Design at the TEI of Athens.
The purpose of the teacher in such a time-limited workshop, strictly within the framework of the festival, is to show these groups that there is a way to visualize their ideas. A workshop beyond a general technical basis is led by the participants. They are the ones who will express their ideas, the instructor will only show them how to do that. Otherwise it is not a workshop but a production team of a specific project.
To be open and receptive to the ideas and expression of the other participants and to not have already organized their own ideas that will expect the others to implement.
With my experience in Greece and abroad in this field I contributed to their development within the festival. The contact with children and teenagers is always refreshing and reminds me of the childhood I left behind.
They have contributed to its dissemination, it is one of the goals that this action is trying to meet. Familiarity with art and its secrets, transform children, that will later become adults, into a category of audience that faithfully follows the achievements of art.
The key secrets are good mood and imagination. Young children love plasticine and the older ones love the cut-out technique.
Become one with the working group and approach each group according to its particularities. Workshops do not follow any specific recipe.
One year, several years ago, for quite complex reasons, I wouldn’t be teaching in a school for at least one year. Conclusion; Α quite different distribution of my time. I heard about Animasyros… on the radio somewhere? Or in a newspaper? and I thought it would be an opportunity to suggest a workshop.
My involvement with animation educational programs had begun several years ago, at a time when it was only done with analog film and later with video. I had just started working with digital media.
The collaboration with the festival is really a journey of acquaintances, experiences, endurance, requirements, knowledge, redefinition, with moments that are always fulfilling! Each year we build on for the next edition, we become better in terms of planning, programming, know-how, adaptability (its positive side) and sociability (approaching and learning from others, young and old).
Also, very important… I ‘got’ a colleague, Ioanna Giakoumatou. When I met her, she was a student and now, after so many years of working together, we have reached the concept of collaboration where every creator and educator would like it to be.
I started working with Animasyros, at its first edition. We grew up together. Sometimes life happens and it separates us but we always find a way to reunite.
At the time we had started the educational programs one could only find few animated film samples by children or amateur non-professionals. I think Animasyros started the big spread of animation and at the same time gave the opportunity to young students (initially) who ‘got their hands dirty’ by trying, to create a complete film during the festival.
Every year we would see children from previous years come and participate in more and more complex workshops. Over the years they began to come to the workshops in addition to children, volunteer assistants or listeners – teachers, mainly from Syros, and ‘wandered’ in the techniques of animation image.
The Animasyros media literacy workshops motivated me, among others, to create the educational website www.kinoumeno.gr which I believe added the opportunity for children and teachers / non-professionals from all over Greece to get in touch with the animation.
Like a relay race, the love for animation spread to other areas and institutions and within ten years, without anything having changed in the official educational institutions of our country, we have seen an increase in the number and quality of animated student films. Animasyros has undoubtedly contributed to this!
The secret of a successful workshop is first and foremost a good preparation.
– The teacher should be well versed in the subject and he/she must have tested for any technique alternatives before attempting to introduce it to a workshop.
– It is important to be as informed as possible about the conditions of the workshop implementation, all parameters are important (number and ages of participants, the experience that exists or does not exist with the technique, whether the participants know each other or not, the venue of the workshop, the time available before and after the workshop, if the space is sufficiently quiet, a good temperature (believe me, it matters!), if the tables are horizontal and able to move, if there are any technical specifications needed to teach the technique, etc. etc.)
– Cooperation! If you have partners, helpers, volunteers, it is important to meet with them beforehand and talk about the flow of the workshop, decide everybody’s responsibilities, and have everyone try the technique that will be taught.
– Fun, humor and passion!
– Caring! Each participant wants something to share with us, has ideas and feels the need to express himself. We need to give space to everyone and create something all together
As for the techniques… (almost!) everything is possible! Just adjust the technique
to the conditions and specifications of each workshop and prepare the workshop carefully and realistically.
I suddenly found myself in Syros, in the very beginning of the festival (sometime in 2009-10) with my classmates from the AudioVisual Arts Department of the Ionian University and our professor Konstantinos Tiligadis, to make the making of off an animation festival.
Turns out, it was not a simple festival, it was a new family in motion. Production, volunteers, contributors, visitors and guests filled the island every year with jokes and laughter. And me, usually somewhere with a camera to record all this or a laptop to edit in the early morning. During these recordings I found myself in a children’s animation workshop coordinated by Christina DePian. Without being able to stop recording and without being able to hide my excitement, I decided that this is what I want to do in my life, to become an animation educator.
A few years later, now collaborator with Christina, I feel that I have gained every experience of joy, stress and emotion of the progress of our participants in the workshops.
Every media literacy workshop that takes place, can create small animators who in the future will become professionals in the field. Greek animation had been at a low level, but in recent years with the incentives given through the workshops that take place during the festival (or the rest of the year) and with the technologies that offer generous tools, from a very young age it is possible for everybody to get familiarized with animation. To experiment and make their first animated film with simple materials. And after the first film comes the next one, the next one and just like that… Greek animation everywhere!
Animation workshops are complex workshops where difficult concepts need to be translated into simple explanatory expressions. They require a lot of preparation for the teacher (like an animation movie!) but the satisfaction and the happy smile you see on a face as soon as one manages to make his/her first short film, rewards all the fatigue.
Having worked the last decade in general and special education, with adults, teachers, and various social groups (disabled, adult groups for detoxification and integration, adult groups in prisons, refugees, people living on the barren line) I keep three elements: preparation, respect for the participants, motivation and experiential approach.
Each teacher adjusts the workshops according to his/her experiences, but I can say that it takes patience (frame-by-frame as in animation movies!), experimentation and above all to listen to the needs of the participants. Each student / participant has their own unique personality and learns differently. Give him the opportunity to get to know the animation in his own special way! And as to who is that way? You are there to discover it!
I started my journey with Animasyros in 2016 at the 8th edition of our island’s festival. Once I learned with how many interesting ways you can bring an image to life, a new world opened up in front of me and I decided to take part in all future editions (Animasyros 8-13).
Through this experience I learned a lot about animation and made many new friends, but what made me fall in love with Animasyros is the fact that it helped me discover what I would like to study in the future and gave me the motivation to join the art field.
I hope in the coming years to have the opportunity to participate in Animasyros and I look forward to seeing how the world of animation will evolve. However, I am sure that it will never stop surprising and enchanting us.
Marianna Foskolou, 15-year-old student, Syros
The present forms part of the project Animathesis, which is implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture.