Get to Know Indie Filmmakers Joseph Pearce

A weekly series that profiles some of the most interesting independent animators working today.

This week's topic is Joseph Pearce, a British filmmaker whose dark, comical and surreal works highlight the often absurd and dark side of human behavior.

In a nutshell: Pearce is one of the few animators who, using the technique of rotoscoping, expertly blends live action and animation to project a distorted, fractured, strange world littered with complex, broken, and lonely souls.

Where to Start: Family Portraits (2010). There is always something false about family portraits and professional photographs. It is you, but it is not you. They block out all the various conflicts and cracks in the family bond. Pearce deftly uses rotoscoping to show a family disintegrating during a portrait session. A dazzling and savage tragicomedy.

Next to watch: The Pub (2012). Seen through the eyes of a bartender, Pearce's trippy black-and-white approach captures the nightmarish lives of various patrons at a local pub.

Other key films: Stand Up (2008). A comedian's stand-up act goes horribly wrong.

Influences: Paula Rego, Thomas Vinterberg (and the Dogma 95 movement), Richard Pryor

Says: "I always wanted to draw, but I couldn't do it right. So I fudged and traced over the top. I quickly realized that this was incredibly tedious until I started distorting it in an exaggerated way. From there, it was pretty organic. I tend not to script the "animated" elements too heavily, and often draw inspiration from the live-action frames in front of me. For me, it's somewhere between the reality of live action and the surreal nature of animation."

Currently in production: Pierce recently completed "Scale" (2022), an adaptation of Will Self's original story.