Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Miyazaki at Work

10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki is a 4-part documentary that's currently free to stream online. 

It follows the legendary animation director's creative struggles as he develops the Studio Ghibli films Ponyo and The Wind Rises. Chain-smoking and irritable, Miyazaki tolerates a single cameraman, who follows him through his daily routine, including his life at home and his role at studio meetings.

With spare narration and a vérité spirit, the documentary doesn't shy away from the dead ends and frustrations, even for such a successful and productive artist. For Miyazaki, each film begins as a lonely and personal journey before it becomes a collective group enterprise.

"Miyazaki works in a constant cloud of doubt and anxiety," the narrator comments. When visiting London, Miyazaki is struck by Millais' Ophelia, and he feels his work is at a dead end. He shifts his working place to a new house and experiments with new materials to refresh his approach. In the end, the lesson is to trust your heart...and trust the process.
10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki from NHK World
Episode 1: Ponyo is Here
View Episodes 2-4

Book: The Art of Spirited Away
Via Cartoon Brew


Jen said...

Thank you for sharing this!

Steve said...

Thanks for the heads up. Just saw Ponyo on a transatlantic flight. Such creativity!

Bing said...

Thanks! I went to the link but no video just the site with announcement. Do I need to be a member?

James Gurney said...

Bing, The website hosting the episodes is a Japanese public TV station. I don't think you have to be a member; I'm not. They don't let me embed the video on the blog, so all I have is a link to the four episodes. Assuming they're playable in your country, you simply click on them and a player pops up.

R. W. Ware said...

Thanks for sharing this. It took me all day to get through it, but it was well worth the experience, and an inspiration. It's sad to see all that he sacrificed for his craft, and would be sadder still if he literally had to give up everything he loved, too. I'm glad to see he's doing another film--"How Do You Live?"--intended to be released before the 2020 Summer Olympics.

arturoquimico said...

I was impressed with Part 3, the father struggling to convey wisdom to the son who wanted to be his own man... a never ending story...

CerverGirl said...

Thank you for this post, inspirational reminder, "In the end, the lesson is to trust your heart...and trust the process."

Anthony R. said...

Glad you find so many gems Mr. James Gurney.
I'd like to ask you, though you have plenty of information in Imaginative Realism on the subject, how one develops imagination. Perhaps a difficult question, though it is emphasized and pondered upon in this documentary. Miyazaki seems to have a work ethic aligned to the muse which he uses as feeling to guide the story, characters and authenticity of the work he does.
How have you stretched or enhanced your imagination? Or has it simply been there all along? What is the essence of that skill and how does one meet it? Thank you.

James Gurney said...

Anthony, It's a fair question, but a hard one to answer. My first hunch is that the imagination derives from a lot of kinds of practice or experience.

There's the inspiration you get from other people's art: reading, watching movies etc. and then thinking about them afterward. If you keep a journal and a sketchbook, try to capture your mental image of what you anticipate or remember about something you're going to experience with your senses, and then compare that to what you actually capture.

Another source for the imagination are techniques for harnessing your brain's natural image-making engine. First and foremost, there are nocturnal dreams and hypnagogic hallucinations, which are wonderfully non-directed, evanescent and hard to capture. I suppose you can also generate images with psychedelic drugs, but I haven't reached out in that direction.

I believe that for many artists, drawing or painting from your imagination relies on a lot of stock techniques that will reliably provide you with a plausible image, one that you can then take the next step by putting it though some variations.

Anthony R. said...

The anticipation journal/sketchbook sounds like a good exercise. Thank you.
Meditation is definitely a tool for me in this respect, although as you said, from these states, the difficulty is to capture and translate the visions into a concrete image.
Reality from the imagination - the task of the artist. Apophenia can induce similar effects I find.

I realized last night after asking you that the act of writing is something that for me will enhance my imagination. I already have the ability to write quite intuitively, therefore I can imagine and not think about how to get it down on the page as much, unlike my skills with drawing which are still intermediate and not yet natural when it comes to idea producing.
Thanks again.