If you’re big into the music scene then you’re going to want to know about Ace Norton. Working with a client list from Foster the People to Steve Aoki, Norton has already made a big splash in the industry. His unique style and use of stop motion animation sets him apart as an innovator amongst his kind. Check out our interview with him below.
TL: You’ve been making videos since you were 17, and the means for making a music video have definitely changed if not grown rapidly since then. How has technology and social media influenced and effected your style and work over time?
Ace: In the early years I didn’t have budgets so in order to increase the production value without spending lots of money I’d do stop animation which didn’t require crews, big lights, or grip trucks. I’d create these videos in my bedroom or I’d sneak into the animation department at USC using my old student ID. Ace: Now that technology is changing so rapidly, I think you can pull off a lot of the things that were all but impossible 10 years ago. now a days you have high quality digital cameras, inexpensive editing software, and you can distribute your own films on the internet . If you have the will and the drive you can do it (and do it yourself)
TL: Think fast, If you could have an endless budget to make a video what would you do?
Ace: I’d shoot on a sunny island location and I’d throw in some guns, some pretty women, some exotic animals, and a few buckets of blood.
TL: With Youtube and Vimeo playing a huge role in the distribution of videos today, giving DIY directors everywhere the opportunity to show the world their work, what does the future of the music video look like to you? Do you think it evens the playing filed or is diluting the scene?
Ace: I think it evens out the playing field and gives opportunity for new talent. Art is always evolving, progressing, and adapting- it’s important for young people to one up the establishment, shake things up, and take things to the next level. We’re in a business of constant change so without that we’d still be making silent films.
TL: If you could choose any artist for your next video who would it be?
Ace: Weird Al, Radiohead, R. Kelly
TL: Animation is a big part of your work, and you seem to stick to stop motion animation more than digital. What appeals to you about this traditional style rather than digital?
Ace: It’s more organic and you can see the faults and all the effort that went into it with your bare hands- it’s the mistakes that make it so unique. I guess I trust the things I can control, it always freaks me out to be reliant on computers so I try to do things as practically as humanly possible.
TL: You have an exceptional talent for combing the mundane everyday with surreal characters and scenarios, pulling away from a more traditional narrative. This style really draws the viewer in, allowing them to relate to an everyday setting while simultaneously pulling us into this surreal world. What has influenced the presence of this mundane surrealism in your work.
Ace: Everyone can relate to boredom and I think that’s when people are their most creative. As a kid me and my friends would do the most silly things to kill time- we’d invent these odd games, make bad movies, and tear up the town on our bmx bikes. As an adult it’s rare that you get to experience moments like this because we’re constantly worrying about our future and our jobs.
Ace: When you’re in your own head and there’s no deadline, no pressure to work hard, or be great- it establishes a kind of universe where there are NO RULES. when I’m bored I may pound my head against the wall, I may blow bubbles with my spit, I may throw fruit into a ceiling fan-I like the open ended-ness of that for a video concept- where anything and everything is fair game.
TL: I know you have said before you are inspired by influential filmmakers such as Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer , and Michael Gondry, do you ever draw inspiration from artists or art in other creative fields, ie. fashion, fine arts, photography, or even literature?
Ace: To be honest I’m mostly inspired by creators with great work ethic, people who fail miserably and have the courage and perseverance to climb back.…off the top of my head Michael Jordan, Edward Kienholz, Vincent Van Goh, Steve Jobs, Hemmingway- people who just work hard and have a unique voice.
TL: Die Antwoord came out with a new video that deals with some pretty cheeky humor as well, would you ever want to work with them in the future?
Ace: Of course.
TL: When shooting your videos I feel like things probably get a little crazy, in a good way, what is the most ridiculous moment you’ve experience on set?
Ace: We shot a video for this band caged animals on a lake with jet skis, boats, grim reapers, and anything and everything water related but three hours into the shoot a freak storm rolled in and it actually started to snow. We threw caution to the wind and continued to shoot but I pushed myself too hard and got hypothermia…good times.
TL: On your website www.acenorton.com you have a section called art, where you have images of drawings form your notebook, do your drawings and journals play a big role in how you come up with concepts for your work?
Ace: They’re just doodles but yeah I like to draw, I like to take photos, and make installations. for each video I’ll make a “packet” which aren’t traditional storyboards more like drawings of each scene or vignette just so I have it clear in my head.
TL: What can we expect from you next? Ever think about making a feature film?
Ace: Taking a well deserved break from a string of videos but I have a few feature projects in the mix, I’m gonna try and work on my art stuff too…
TL: And one last easy question, or maybe not so easy, top 5 favorite music videos?