David O´Reilly´s talk at the Pictoplasma animation festival


I was back in Berlin on Saturday just in time to get some provision for the retina at Pictoplasma Animation Festival. The highlight of the event for me was David O´Reilly´s talk.

This guy must be what you´d call a genius. After having seen a long string of animation from talented artists during the Pictoplasma screenings, i was starting to get a bit dizzy because of all that cuteness overload. Enters David O´Reilly, not exactly as cheerful as the little penguins and singing bunnies we had just seen, but humble and honest enough to make you like his dark side much more than any peppy character.

0aaaaanimlao9.jpgIdent (watch it)

Here are some notes from his talk:

The Irish Berlin-based artist has worked for 7 years in the animation world but it´s only for two years that he calls himself a filmmaker. It all started in a rather classical way: he went to school to learn about animation and drawing. He was actually more interested in drawing but realized quite quickly that not many people give a damn about drawing so he had to turn to Plan B: animation.

His first break in animation came very very fast. He was not too stimulated by the school´s animation course, felt out of synch with the rest of his class, etc. So he did something that many students are probably doing: he sent an email to his heroes, the guys from Shynola who are famous for never hiring anyone from the outside. He simply asked them to have a look at his work. He never really thought they would even write him back. They did. In their message they told him that his shorts were the best things they had ever been sent. What he sent were three animations (here´s a link to one of them) which he showed us while apologizing: they look a bit old for him now (not for us, thanks!) Besides, a promo campaign used a very similar character a few years ago and David’s comment on this was “I guess that´s what happens when you make super simple characters.”


He left school and started to work for both Shynola and Studio AKA. While at Studio AKA he was doing some 2D and 3D designs (they didn´t know he was able to do some animation), he would only create animation at Shynola (who in turn were unaware that he was a good designer).

In 2005, he decided to learn everything again and start from scratch. That´s when he realized RGBXYZ which he calls “an angry work”. The animation is made of five sequences totaling 15 minutes.


In 2006, he went to work at Fabrica, the Benetton communication research center situated in Treviso (Italy). They asked him to do a test to prove that he could do some animation. He came up with the eerie and gorgeous WOFL. Fabrica didn´t like it too much but many other people did and the work soon appeared in mags and DVDs.

Uploaded by makecurves

Video of Wofl

Next Fabrica asked him to create a small ambient animation for the Benetton stores and as a provocation he made a short animation in which animals are shot in the head one after the other.

One of his best moments at Fabrica was when he found a space used mainly to screen corporate cinema movies, he befriended the security guy and would lock himself with stacks of movies which have influenced his later works. The movies were more the Ingmar Bergman, Andrzej Żuławski or Gus Van Sant kind than Pixar.

After that he collaborated with Garth Jennings, one of the directors of sci-fi movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

O´Reilly created some scenes in a toilet cubicle and some illustrations for the pages of the Holy Bible seen in Jennings’ movie Son of Rambow.

The animation director ended his talk by showing us his latest film which he had just finished working on a few hours before. Serial Entoptics started with a mood, a feeling that David wanted to convey. he didn´t do any storyboard, he just followed what he calls a “punk method” even if the result doesn’t look punk at all.
If you´re in London, you’ll get a chance to see the movie and hear David O´Reilly at 3Rooms on November 27.

I’ll leave you with the video he made for Venetian Snares:

Video for Venetian Snares‘ Szamar Madar title

More of his videos in ColonelBlimp.
Related: Meet the characters.