The printing and bookbinding I studied as an undergraduate continued to have a strong pull for me for a number of years as I moved to Seattle and worked variously for a book and document restoration company, a blank journal sweatshop, and an industrial screenprinting shop. I also volunteered at a letterpress shop in exchange for press time, where I produced posters and other design materials for my musician friends.

At the same time, I was experimenting with stop motion animation filmmaking in my bedroom, using a small super8 film camera I found in a drawer at home one day. Fascinated by the way gesture, sculpture, and time are combined in the animation process, I produced a series of four grotty shorts called “At Our Elbow” and submitted two of them to a variety of festivals in the Northwest. They both received a fair bit of play, and “Post Nasal Drift” won a few awards. A shorts clearinghouse called Microcinema International circulated them in combination with other shorts at tiny cinemas around the world.

I threw around the idea of going to film school for a while but eventually decided to get an internship at the London production offices of my stop motion animation heroes, the Brothers Quay, instead. Though my work there rarely brought me into contact with the filmmakers, I obtained some knowledge of the workings of the film and video industry and was able to gain access to a motion graphics company and editing studio when I moved back to Seattle.

This access led to a full time job at Superfad, which makes commercials, music videos, film titles, art projects, and other video-related things. It was a job in which I did a bit of everything—some shooting, some editing, some art department tasks (making props and other things to shoot)—and served as the company’s stop motion animator when one was required.

In my spare time, I continued making my own animated shorts and installations and working collaboratively with others on various film projects. The most recent of these are “But Soft,” a 2 minute short commissioned by the Northwest Film Forum (released as a 35mm print!) and two collaborations: a film version of Samuel Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s ten minute opera “Hand of Bridge” and projections for live performances of “Share this Place,” a series of 12 songs by Portland musician Mirah and Seattle group Spectratone that are based on the late-nineteenth century writings of Henri Fabre, a charming French amateur entomologist.

This past spring (2007), I left Superfad to pursue freelancer-dom. I’m still doing a little bit of everything; in mid-August a video I directed for Andrew Bird was released, and more exciting projects are on their way.

Britta’s Website

Clips of stop-motion animation by Britta Johnson ’97