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October 21, 2013 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-10-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 7A

Knott talks 'U'
inspiration or art

Scattered plot reduces
'Estate' to obscurity


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toonist discusses "They just found creative
ways to (tell the story) through
)ast influence, allegory, symbolism and Freud-
ian stuff - things that Soviet
future work bureaucrats are going to miss
because they're not educated
By CARLY KEYES enough to know any better," he
DailyArts Writer said.
Today, Knott says he refer-
didn't have the best art ences his old lecture material
tion in high school. It was when facing his own challenges
f those electives that a lot with censors for animated tele-
aple took more as a study vision.
"It's ridiculous," Knott said.
vid Knott, a two-time "I always say I learned how to
-winning director for do what I want to do and find
ork in animated television creative ways around (the cen-
as Disney's "Recess") and a sors') notes because I took
;raduate of the University, Herb Eagle's class."
D idea that his artistic skills Upon graduation, Knott
1 eventually pay off so didn't know what to do. At
omely until he took "The the time, the film industry in
f Film" with Prof. Hubert Michigan was nowhere near as
his freshman year. developed as it is now. He had
was more than eye-open- to move home with his parents
Knott said. "I was like, 'No and get a job as photographer
ou can actually study this with Glamour Shots in the
Westland mall.
n still, Knott, originally "It was soul-sucking," Knott
Port Huron, wasn't yet said. "I kept saying, 'But I'm
that he should major in' working with a camera, so it's
and Video (now known okay.' "
reen Arts and Cultures). After about four months,
Y the end of his freshman Knott felt he had no choice but
he realized that he'd much to move somewhere with a big-
flourish in another film ger and better market. After
e with Cohen than floun- searching for work and couch-
physics. surfing both Chicago and Seat-
ly first (physics) midterm tle, he eventually ended up in
a C, and I never got Cs," Los Angeles where he got work
said. "I dropped it like a as a production assistant.
otato. I was good (at math "I kept trying to figure out
cience) in high school, but a path where I could get to a
big leagues here at Uni- creative job," Knott said. "I
y, it (wasn't) working." was writing scripts at night on
hat Knott learned at the my own. What I should've been
rsity - from the films he doing is finding like-minded
ed to the papers he wrote peers and writing really short
e cartoon short film he scripts that we could make into
- has been essential to his a film. It's so easy now. You can
ss in the industry. just make a movie with your
s like this visual encyclo- iPhone and post it to YouTube.
I have in my brain that I Back then, it wasn't that kind of
upon," he said. "I'll liter-' world."
e in a session with a couple Knott lived from job to job.
artists trying to break He would get six weeks of
asequence, and I say, 'OK, work then spend three months
s the shot I'm thinking off and get another gig just as
. It's like that one scene, in he was running out of money.
ne movie. ... And it's gotta Though it wasn't quite "soul-
actly like that.'" sucking" like Glamour Shots,
nott also mentioned that it was grueling work, driving
he learned from Prof. extras around and picking up
rt Eagle - the history of light kits in his own car for 12-
Eastern European direc- to 14-hour days.
savigated around censor- He was "almost ready to go
estrictions - has proven home," when he saw an adver-
ul. tisement for an animation

expo that was taking place in
Universal City, Calif. Every
single animation house in town
was going to be there looking
at portfolios. So Knott, who
taught himself how to draw by
tracing comic-book characters,
spent a few weeks sketching
people in cafes and animals
in the zoo and mimicking the
illustrations of famed animator
Preston Blair.
"It didn't take long to realize
that I had a really sub-standard
portfolio," Knott said. "Or at
least, very neophyte."
Once again, Knott's educa-
tion at the University proved
crucial in opening the door to
his future.
"The last table was Han-
na-Barbera," he said. "They
thought the same thing about
the sketches as everyone else,
but they saw this VHS tape
floating around in there. And
asked me, 'What's that?' I just
said, 'Oh, it's this one-minute
cartoon I did at U-M. It's this
kind of coyote-roadrunner
type cartoon.'"
After watching his student
film, the Hanna-Barbera repre-
sentative informed Knott that
they were looking for someone
to hire and train as an animatic
editor, which is somebody who
cuts together storyboards into
a timed-out version of what the
cartoon would look like.
"I said, 'Sign me up!' I came
in for an interview, and that's
how I got in."
Since that pivotal moment,
Knott worked his way up from a
successful start as a storyboard
artist at Disney Television Ani-
mation to an Emmy-winning
director at Nickelodeon studios
for "The Penguins of Madagas-
"Storyboarding is basically
directing because you're choos-
ing all the shots," Knott said.
"Not only that, you're doing
the acting, because you have to
draw the acting out of the dia-
logue. I wanted to be a director,
but I didn't think I had much of
a shot. But, here it is in front
of me, and all I have to do is be
able to draw everything."
Currently, Knott is working
as a storyboard artist on the
feature film "Legend of the
NeverBeast" for Disneytoon
Studios, which is set to release
in spring 2015.

DailyArts Writer
For a movie supposedly tack-
ling such high-profile issues,
"The Fifth Estate," directed
by Bill Con-
don ("Dream- C-
presents only The Fifth
a feeble swipe Esate
or two. Films
depicting liv- AtQualityl6
ing historical and Rave
figures are the
new black, and Touchstone
this latest one
falls short of
giving its characters the story
they deserve.
"The Fifth Estate" is based on
books written by ex-Wikileaks
members Daniel Domscheit-
Berg, David Leigh and Luke
Harding. It focuses on the
dynamics between Wikileaks
founder Julian Assange (Bene-
dict Cumberbatch, "Star Trek
Into Darkness") and Daniel
Berg (Daniel Briihl, "Rush"), his
original right-hand man.- The
two embark on an odyssey to
change the world by revealing
its secrets, and at first, all goes
well as the film adeptly shows
how furiously typing at. key-
boards in the dark will topple
banks, parliaments and compa-
nies. Trouble enters the picture
when Assange and Berg go head
to head over whether to redadt
information from their largest
leak of all, the release of State
Department cables.
Though the film is officially
marketed as a sort of political
thriller, it can't seem to find
its identity. "The Fifth Estate"
tries to touch upon too many
points in its attempt to capture
the gravity of the situation.
Aling with the main arc depict-
ing drama between Assange
and Berg, there are side plots
between Berg and his girlfriend
(Alicia Vikander, "Anna Kar-
enina"), between Assange and
editors of major newspapers,
and between government offi-
cial Sarah Shaw (Laura Linney,
"Hyde Park On Hudson") and
her Middle Eastern "not-just-
an-informant." The last con-
flict appears out of nowhere in
the film, completely irrelevant
to the overall storyline. The
end result is a confused movie
spread thin as it flits among
too many characters.


Sherlock came back a blonde.

As f
the W
a hero
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again a
and ca
guy. I
as e
even in

or the primary issue - of every city the characters hop
'ikileaks controversy - to - which they do every four
Fifth Estate" oscillates minutes or so. The color palette
n painting Assange as includes only industrial hues of
and a ruthless, under- gray, neon or unhealthy tinges
d creature. Perhaps the of faded fluorescent green. This
aims to show objectiv- is a tech movie, it screams. Look
t it comes across as only at all this tech stuff!
lent, unfairly portraying "The Fifth Estate" could have
e as a two-dimensional saved its muddled plot with an
either way. He is a man ending that paid more respect
tery, the film emphasizes to its characters. Instead, the
and again, single-minded final moments of the movie
alculating, alone in the feel tacked on, as if they're the
and also kind of a weird hastily written sentences of an
However, Cumberbatch, essay conclusion written min-
y well known for his roles utes before class. A few lines of
motionally constipated text explain to the audience the
es, performs flawlessly aftermath of the main drama
a the given limitations. regarding those State Depart-
ment cables. Daniel Brnfhl's face
is featured close up as a single
fat tear rolls down one of his
us movie cheeks.
oesn't even The final scene is bizarre
and jarring, as it shows Cum-
now what it berbatch as Assange giving
an interview regarding the
vants to be. film - yes, "The Fifth Estate"
becomes self-referential. It's
almost arrogant as it assumes
the impact it will have, with
film also employs over- Cumberbatch saying, "What
liches, ultimately creat- Wikileaks movie? Oh, that one."
farce-like atmosphere. The movie sees itself as larger
are glowing laptops in than what it really is: a meek,
rk, strings of green non- unoriginal attempt to discuss
on black screens, down- implications of the future of
ars inching by to increase information's brave new world,
n and a flickering, glitchy riding on the coattails of his-
ee that displays the name torical figures.


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ing a
the da
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load ba

Revaluing shock value of nudity in art

For the Daily
Walking through the library
halls to the Duderstadt Video
M Center on North Campus, we
were warned by signs that there
would be "nudity" in the eve-
ning's performance. I got into my
nudity-viewing mindset, which
usually involves putting on my
"this-is-totally-normal" face.
"Masturbation and sex and de-
robing - why's it always mastur-
bation and sex and de-robing when
people hear queer? Well, it is fun,"
Thomas DeFrantz, the director
of SLIPPAGE, an interdisciplin-
ary research and performance
collective, would protest jokingly
throughout the performance as he
stripped down to his underwear
once again.
He was upstaged by his fellow
male dancer, who did not stop at
his underwear, and proceeded to
waghiships inaproudmotionbar-
ing all he had to show. "Theoryog-
raphy 4.5: We queer (still) here" is
a multi-media dance performance
studded with these periods of
dialogue, proclamation and reac-
tion, in which the dancers read
audience contributions ("write
something that's queer" we were
prompted) from index cards, and
express them through movement
and adlib.
In contrast to these interludes
of full-frontal improvisation that

face, Gi
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my "this-is-totally-normal" siast - rather than as just cheap
.na Kohler, one of the SLIP- shock value, like the hip-wagging
members, danced bare- improv.
d as a choreographic choice. Alastair Macaulay, the revered
rformed an excerpt of her dance critic for The New York
'dream (factories)," which Times, made this point in a Sun-
with Kohler sitting on a day Magazine feature article last
f mirror - back facing the summer headlined "Nakedness in
ce - and slowly pouring a Dance, Taken to Extremes" that
f beakers filled with wine- sent ripples through the dance
liquid down her body. criticism world. He complimented
ect was both gory and gor- pieces in which the naked body is
The tone changed instantly used to highlight the intricacies of
Madonna's "Like a Prayer" "musculature" and to add a dimen-
o play, and two other danc- sion of "intimacy" where one may
ned Kohler holding pom- not exist in the choreography
nd dancing like divas. The alone. He criticized other nude
went from a meditative, dances as being raunchy for raun-
t performance art piece to chiness's sake.
dance party that displayed A 2009 piece on this topic by
's wine-stained skin as she former Daily Arts Writer Trina
d her naked body. Mannino agreed: "As long as
choreographers use (nudity) to
enhance or further support their
Ca oe vision - instead of using it as a
j gimmick - it can be an effective
ncing be art? and tasteful way to display the
g body in its most natural.form."
I appreciate the high-brow
view, but I can't dismiss the shock
n the pages of the Daily to value of absurdity or raw sexual-
w York Times, a lot of ink ity in the movement arts simply
wed on the topic of nudity in the name of generally accepted
ce. The consensus among definitions of good taste. In the
seems to be that nudity has example of "Theoryography," the
in modern dance, and in hip-wagging and pom-pom shak-
eneral, as long as it comes ing were equally as powerful in
component that expresses their expression as the more seri-
nces a larger artistic vision ous and subtle displays of nudity.
the wine-stained enthu- There's no escaping the conclu-

sion that "shock value" nudity in
performance serves to further
the dialogue about personal iden-
tity and liberation from norms.
Many are quick to dismiss
gaudy displays of the body, judg-
ing that it has perhaps crossed'
the line from art to erotic enter-
tainment or cheap thrill. But con-
sider a choreographed piece in
which one of the characters is an
erotic dancer by profession. Few
would question the appropriate-
ness of even shock value nudity
to bring that character to life.
What about night club "danc-
ers" themselves? Do they not play
characters, and do those char-
acters not express Macauley's
"intimacy"? Does this mean that,
logically, we have to recognize
even pole dancing itself as artis-
tic expression worthy of critical
acceptance, however low-brow?
Well, look what happened to
Burlesque. Once reviled in fine
arts circles as the pole dancing
of its day, Burlesque has enjoyed
a nostalgic revival as a high art
form, celebrated in feature films,
repertory houses, performance
tr s and literature.
should an image have to
be tasteful to have value? Some-
times the message is within the
shock itself. So, pole dancing
as art? If that's what it takes to
defend complete expressive free-
dom in the movement arts, then
I'd say so.


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