About - Personal

Job van Zuijlen directing voice talent at Arlington Independent Media

Job van Zuijlen directing voice talent in the Audio Room of Arlington Independent Media

Who Am I?

My name is Job Michiel van Zuijlen. I was born in the Netherlands, and I grew up in an environment that stimulated art as well as science. This has drawn me to art forms that have a technology component. Because of an electronic-music concert series in Utrecht in the late sixties, I began my own electronic-music experiments with simple equipment that I built myself.  I studied at the Institute of Sonology of Utrecht University (with Gottfried Michael Koenig, among others) from 1969 to 1970 and again from 1979 to 1980. My interest in music technology led to work as a designer of synthesizers and effects equipment for Synton Electronics during the second half of the seventies.

I continued composing electronic music as well, and in 1976 I was commissioned to score a short animation film. Since then, I have written music for several independent films. I also like to combine electronic music with other art forms and to collaborate with other artists. This has resulted in music for dance, the theater, and a number of art shows. Most of my “standalone” compositions have not been published, except for Marsyas, a piece for contemporary flute and recorded electronic music, which was written in 1984. More about these activities can be found on the Musical Projects page of my electona website.

In collaborative projects I look for ways to add visual content to my music or to compose music inspired by visual content. I prefer a condition in which there is time and freedom to experiment, so I decided that it might be interesting to take a shot at the visual content as well. As a result my interest has shifted from primarily composing music to creating animation films. An overview of the films completed to date can be found in my Portfolio.

Why Animation?

Annecy 1977 posterSince 1970, I have been actively involved with animation in various ways: initially as an animator's assistant for a summer and then as composer of film music for animation movies. This has led to a life-long interest in animation films, especially the kind that goes beyond the typical cartoon. The common view that animation is just entertainment for children ignores the fact that there are certainly animation films that have an older audience in mind. Collectively, these films display an astounding variety in technique and subject matter, if you care to look for them. At the National Film Board of Canada, for example.

An eye opener for me was my attendance of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 1977 (Troost, a film I composed music for was selected), at a time when it was still intimate and edgy. Curiously, a kind of revisionist historic view by the Festival itself considers the events up to 1982 differently: The biennial event presents between 300 and 400 films to a professional public and is considered elitist with a reputation for showing auteur animation that is limited to short films. So what, it was fun and memorable!

Recently, I have started to create animation films myself, and I have two main reasons for doing so. First, I enjoy the fact that animation requires working hands-on with various aspects of film production, such as: set building, lighting, and cinematography. The second reason is that I have particular ideas about film music. I believe that the soundtrack should be considered a whole, so that the music may blend in with the sound effects and background sound, as well as the dialog. This is so much easier to accomplish when you work as an independent director.

As to the kind of films I make, for me animation is a means, not an end. It is very tempting to dazzle the viewer with special effects. However, I believe that story is primary, and I try to keep the visuals of my films relatively simple, so that they support rather than detract from the narrative. Of course, if the story demands an impacting visual, I will not shy away.