When I watched “Belly” for the first time, I laughed and then teared salty tears. When I watch it now (I think I have now seen it about ten times) I have the same reactions, especially when I am showing it to a new pair of eyes next to me. Julia is undoubtedly BEYOND talented. When you watch only one of her films you can tell this to be true, when you watch more, you are even further a believer. I forgot to mention, she even does collaborations with artists like Bat For Lashes. Beyond cool. Thanks to her sweet, sweet disposition and willingness to play along, I have now found that I adore her EVEN more. How is this possible? Her bio pic, Alex Mack, flamingos, “FRANNY & ZOOEY” (which I JUST re-read), “When Harry Met Sally,” her Woody Allen love…. JULIA as I have mentioned before, I am taking you for those top secret (kinda kidding, kinda not) sandwiches in Brooklyn and we should probably watch an old favorite film. Maybe also try to find some New York flamingos. Or just talk to the photos in your room, if they are still there. THANK YOU, you fabulous and talented artist you.
Dianna: What are your five favorite animated characters? And yes, they can include your own!
JULIA POTT: I think most of my favorites are rooted in nostalgia – the characters I loved as a kid have held true into adulthood. It’s difficult to choose just five though!
The Tasmanian Devil, or ‘Taz’ if you’re good enough friends with him is definitely in the top five, especially Baby Taz (really any of the baby Looney Tunes are brilliant). I think I have always seen him as a kindred spirit. A lot of comparisons were made between him and myself growing up due to my combined talent of being a very clumsy and moving too fast. Many things got broken.
Tommy Pickles is another favorite. I was obsessed with the “Rugrats” growing up. The design, animation and sound design were some of the big reasons animation was so appealing to me. I also like his can do spirit.
Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” has a place in my heart because I spent so much of my childhood wanting to be her. What little kid didn’t dress up in a shell bra, wrap their legs in shiny green material and hope they would magically transport to the ocean. Just me? Oh ok…
D: Definitely not just you. Come on! I STILL want to be a mermaid. And I had Taz/Converse high tops when I was in the fourth grade.
JULIA: Then there’s Snoopy, Charlie Brown, anyone from that series can take this spot, I love them all. If I had to choose……Linus.
Bimbo, a Fleischer Brothers character, really anything that’s been touched by the Fleischer Brother’s is pure design genius but he particularly appeals to me. He’s so fricking cute and that genre of animation probably has the biggest influence on my own work.
D: Did you dress up as a child? Doesn’t have to be Halloween specific, yet, of course, can include. Did you have any specific themes, or favorites? By the way, this is my favorite question to hear the answer to! I, LOVE a good dress-up. To this day. In fact, more than ever.
JULIA: They say that animators are just shy actors, and I spent a lot of my childhood with a secret desire to be a movie star. I would run up to my room after visits to the cinema and dress up like the characters. I remember an awkward phase of dressing like Pocahontas and climbing on all the sofas in my house giving speeches about protecting the land. I was a bit of a tomboy so in my day to day life my style icons were Alex Mack and Clarissa Explains it All. I still love dressing up (but have sadly given up my dreams of becoming a movie star). I moved to New York in October and I feel like I’m living inside a 90s romantic comedy and spend most days channeling Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.” I am also one of those losers who starts planning their Halloween costume in August. It being August now I can tell you that this year I am planning to be Gizmo from Gremlins – no clue how I’m going to pull it off but it’s going to be a pretty darn comfy Halloween costume if I do.
D: Alex Mack!!! We would have loved watching TV together as youngsters. I recently watched ‘When Harry Met Sally’ right after we lost Nora Efron, and no matter how many times I see it, I am amazed. The dialogue Meg + Billy (YES I am referencing them as if I know them, because I feel as if I DO because of this movie!) it is all just wonderful. And if you were an actor….we would not have all the animation that you are going to bless us with over and over again.
D: Where does your inspiration stem from?
JULIA: I have a couple of sources I tap into whenever my brain is feeling a little uninspired. Film and TV are probably my biggest go to. Classic romantic comedies/romance like “When Harry met Sally,” “Brief Encounter,” “Harold and Maude” or anything by Woody Allen. I love things that take an element of horror or the eerie and put it in every day circumstances, shows like “Buffy,” “Twin Peaks” and the “X Files.”
I also love reading fiction as a source of inspiration. I have a book where I write down quotes or passages that particularly appeal to me and read through them every time I start a new project. Each film I’ve made so far is influenced in part by one line in a book. One of my favorite quotes from “Franny and Zooey,” went on to inspire my short, “Howard:”
“I’ve missed you,” the words were no sooner out than she realized that she didn’t mean them at all.
My favorite authors are the ones that can completely immerse you in an imaginary space, no matter how absurd. Kurt Vonnegut, Jon Irving, Philip Pullman, J.D. Salinger and Jonathan Safron Foer are my big loves. Of course animation is an influence but more for style than story telling. I enjoy the freedom that animation gives you to take something to its furthest conclusion, building worlds within worlds, pushing through bodies, melting in horror. Russian and Estonian animation is brilliant for that, and they usually go hand in hand with these wonderfully abstract story lines.
D: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
JULIA: I know it’s an old cliché but whenever things are rubbish my mom will always remind me that, “everything happens for a reason.” When you approach life with that point of view even the rotten stuff takes on meaning and you can make sense of it, thinking back and saying oh well if that hadn’t happened I would never have met this person etc. Nothing seems arbitrary or pointless and that’s always good.
D: Name three places you’d like to visit in the next few years:
JULIA: Hawaii for sure. Much to my boyfriends chagrin I am currently trying to make a Hawaii themed bedroom. So far all I have is a palm tree bedspread and lots of photographs of flamingo’s…which aren’t even native to Hawaii so I need to rethink my theme I think.
D: LOVE a good flamingo.
JULIA: My ultimate dream is to go on a road trip through America and Canada. There is nothing more satisfying to me than being in the passenger seat of a car listening to music. Which means I should probably find someone who is willing to drive me all around America! I am dying to go back to Italy. I have been a few times and it’s a love affair that doesn’t quit. Again I’d love to make it a road trip, with a lot of stops of gelato and spaghetti.
D: Fill in the blank: Life is for…
JULIA: Family, the beach & donuts.
Also, I sent one of the first sketches I felt excited about in a really long time – I was going through a ‘drawing’ block and it was this sketch that got me out of my rut and made me want to make “Belly.” Obviously, a strong feeling, and fill in the blank!