Today, join us for a conversation with Hayley Morris, the director behind the captivating stop-motion animation for MTV's "How to Triumph Like a Girl." Hayley shares behind-the-scenes insights and gives a glimpse into her creative process. We delve into her experience of navigating her first project as a new mother, adding a deeply personal layer to her artistic journey. Finally, we explore what Hayley has been passionately pursuing since then.

    What is your favourite animation project and why?

    MTV - Women’s History Month “How to Triumph Like a Girl”

    I was contacted by MTV to create a film for Women’s History Month through their “SEE ME, HEAR ME, KNOW ME” campaign. Their goal is to support underrepresented creatives by commissioning and paying for their creative concepts, providing funding for production, and by turning over their social and linear platforms to artists so the world can hear and see their unique voice and vision.

    It’s rare to create a project with such creative freedom and the support to make it happen. When brainstorming, I knew I wanted to create visuals for poetry. I researched many poets and writing and came across a poem titled “How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón. I loved how it felt empowering and that’s the feeling I wanted to convey to the viewer. The MTV team contacted Ada and was able to license her poem for this piece. Once we had the go-ahead I knew I wanted to speak with other women and get their perspectives and interpretations of the poem along the way. During my storyboarding process, I spoke with colleagues, family and friends and wrote down many notes. Then I took their insights and my feelings and tried to translate them visually to Ada’s words. Working with the MTV team was so much fun. They were so kind, supportive and gave me really valuable feedback when I asked. This project won GOLD in the Fully Animated Piece category for the Telly Awards and was the 2023 Promax North America Awards Silver winner in Motion Graphics.

    Do you remember any specific life or creative lesson/s from this project?

    This was the first big project I did after having my daughter. It had a different weight to it, and I think I brought this new perspective to the animation. I also had to lean on my mother and mother-in-law to help with my daughter while I dedicated time to the whole production process. The whole film and the behind-the-scenes of how it was made were possible through the help of other women. I suppose this project opened my eyes to how my creative process has changed since becoming a mom.

    I can no longer stay up until 4 am animating. I had to create a different schedule and lean on a lot of women and my husband for help. I was always resisting asking for help in a stubborn lone wolf kind of way. Now, I know it’s essential to get things done and to create good work. I had a fellow teaching colleague create a 2d animated sequence for one section that I translated into paper and worked with a compositor to compile my elements together in the final scene. It opened my eyes to the possibility of future collaborations and how to pull in other people in many ways, whether it’s in small ways like the brainstorming process or full-on collaboration.

    View BTS video here

    How different was your style then compared to your style now?

    I have been working on paper for a while. I love it as a medium for its endless possibilities as well as its constraints. For this project, I wanted to limit myself to watercolour paper and replacements. I discovered I loved the texture of the paper when it slightly wrinkled and went with that look throughout the piece.

    I feel like my style is always evolving and I’m always trying new things for every project… but I like to keep the same sensibilities when it comes to attention to detail, colour, symbolic representation, texture etc. Right now I’m venturing away from paper and exploring working with clay. I’m loving it! Right now, I’m creating a 1-minute animation that will be displayed on the Daniels & Fischer Tower in downtown Denver, Co. I’m excited to see my animation on this scale and how this can open my work to be shown in different contexts.

    See more from Hayley here.

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