The record for most New York Times Op-Docs—seven.
"A fictional 1970s Soviet children's show about a robot boy built by Joseph Stalin and his chain-smoking wolf sidekick."
Felt at home on islands. "It's like there's a moat around me."
Drew Christie, an animator who currently lives on Whidbey Island and was nominated for a 2012 Genius Award in film, continues to produce great work and increase his national reputation. In 2013, he began regularly contributing to the New York Times' Op-Docs and making shorts for Vanity Fair TV. Indeed, his "How to Behave at a Swingers Party" for Vanity Fair is a comedy masterpiece—though the short was made for a larger mainstream audience, Christie's illustrations are as striking, as surreal, as darkly funny as any of his other more challenging, and more visceral, work.
Also in 2013, Christie made animated sequences for two feature-length documentaries, Song of the New Earth and Oil & Water (both played at SIFF this year). And near the end of the year, he codirected a short film about the 1940s for the Vanity Fair Decades Series. It was written and narrated by Starlee Kine of This American Life. "I had the idea to create it all in the style of sailor tattoos," Christie says. The short film was awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick. The New York Times Magazine also commissioned Christie to make one of four obituary films for its annual "The Lives They Lived" issue. Christie picked the guitarist and songwriter JJ Cale as his subject. "I had a great time making this film, Naturally, JJ Cale, because I got to meet a very interesting character named Danny Ferrington, who narrates the story about JJ Cale," explains Christie. "Danny is known as the guitar-maker to the stars, and he has made guitars for everyone from Johnny Cash to Kurt Cobain."
In Christie's hands, Cale is a figure who is at once tragic and heroic, inside and outside of rock history. And the work as a whole—this is a defining feature of his art—has a view of life that's disturbing but never depressing, that's not hopeful but is never hopeless. Christie's filmmaking reputation has been built not from work screened in movie theaters, but posted on the web. In this sense, Christie is very much a filmmaker of our time—an artist leading a whole genre into the future.