We Speak to ASFF Festival Winner Alan Holly, Director of Best Animation Coda

Overall Festival Winner and Best Animation at ASFF 2014, Alan Holly’s Coda offered an outstanding fusion of fluid animation and captivating film scoring for young and older generations alike. The animation tells the story of a lost and drunken soul’s encounter with the character Death, who finds him and shows him many things. Filled with an emotive awareness of collective existence, Coda screened across the city of York during the festival. ASFF catch up with director Holly and hear about his love for animation and future collaborations with his brother, Shane Holly, who innovatively scored the award-winning film.

ASFF: Coda was awarded Best Animation and overall Festival Winner at ASFF’s closing ceremony. What does this recognition mean to you as a filmmaker?
Winning both awards at ASFF was a real honour, especially having been able to attend the festival and see first hand what the festival was like as well as the quality of the films. In relation to the overall prize, as an animation filmmaker it is especially nice recognition to have the film acknowledged as a film among a whole variety of films, and not purely separated as an animated film. That is something that really meant a lot to me.

ASFF: The animation has screened at a range of international festivals. How was your experience of ASFF 2014 in the city of York?
AH: The film has been screening really widely with a steady 10 or more festivals a month and I have managed to make it to a handful of them, all very different, all great experiences. At ASFF I really enjoyed the variety of venues around the city, as it gave me the opportunity to discover York in the two days I was there, despite the fact that I kept a fairly packed schedule of screenings which can often leave you sitting in the dark all day and just seeing the inside of a one theatre. I feel like I got a pretty good sense of the city and got access to buildings that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see. There was a great atmosphere at the festival, very friendly and welcoming, and also a good feeling of enthusiasm and purpose towards film and filmmaking in general.

ASFF: In comparison to feature film, what can short film offer its filmmakers and viewers alike?
AH: I think for viewers short film offers real variety, in ideas, styles and individual voices. It is of course much more difficult to get a feature films made so that they really don’t come close to expressing as many different viewpoints on the world and exploring these ideas through different visual styles, particularly I think, in relation to animated short film making.

For filmmakers short film offers a lot of freedom, in lots of different ways. You can tell a story or explore an idea in the time that is natural for that idea. Practically, it is achievable though not necessarily easy to produce short films independently. Even with funding, as short film is generally not seen so much as a product, in the way that TV and feature film are, there tends not to be the same emphasis or worry about having to please some perceived audience, which means that in my experience filmmakers are left for the most part to their own devices. Short film is of course a great place to learn and test ideas. It is great to see the internet offer short films a real platform and I’m hopeful that as a result of this we will see them taking a much more prominent place in theatre programs and on TV platforms in the coming years.

ASFF: Were you inspired by any films or alternative genres at the weekend?
AH: I tried to see a bit of everything over the weekend. There were a number of documentaries that I was really taken by as well as some of the artists’ and experimental films. JJ Kelly and Josh Thomas’s ?Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean? and Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell’s Still Life were both very interesting and very different nature documentaries. I was also impressed by the richness of Diego Latorre’s Blink and its mix of imagery, and then I really liked Irene Reiserer’s Vampire Times, which is wonderfully atmospheric and immersive.

ASFF: Are there any new film or narrative avenues you would like to explore?
AH: Going forward from the success of Coda, there are few projects that we are hoping to develop at And Maps And Plans as a studio. Ronan McMeel and Rory Byrne at the studio also have ideas, so I would hope to see a number of projects going forward in the near future. I have another short to complete first, but following that I would like to start to develop a feature idea. I also plan to make a music video for my brother Shane Holly’s music, who was the composer on Coda. Shane put a lot of time, work and patience, far above and beyond what the budget could cover, into his work on Coda – I owe him one there. The project would be something purely visual and largely abstract, which I really like to do. It’s great to have narrative but it’s great to have no narrative too.

For more of Alan Holly’s work, visit www.qlqn.ie or follow @qlqn.

Additional information can be found at www.andmapsandplans.com or follow @andmapsandplans.

Follow us on Twitter @asffest for the latest news in film in the UK and internationally.

1. Alan Holly Coda (2013). Courtesy of and maps and plans.