Irish-born and Los Angeles-based, David OReilly (b. 1985) is one of the most adventuresome, innovative—and impishly perverse—independent animation filmmakers working today. A darling of the festival circuit—he has won top prizes in Berlin, Ottawa, Annecy, Sundance, and beyond—OReilly directed Alien Child, the unforgettably funny and touching faux-animated video game in Spike Jonze’s Her (2013), as well as live visuals for M.I.A. at Coachella (2009) and the U2 animated music video “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (2009). He was the also first guest director in Cartoon Network’s 20-year history, creating the Adventure Time episode “A Glitch Is a Glitch.”
A mesmerizing storyteller with a gift for open-ended, absurdist narratives—“The story for Otocat came to me by reading the Bible word-for-word backwards,” he matter-of-factly recalls—OReilly is resolutely independent, moving freely among television network, feature film, and music video commissions; metaphysical, otherworldly video games and interactive projects that question ideas of the self and the nature of role-playing (Mountain and Character Mirror); Tumblr games, iPhone hologram apps, and Twitter-based comic strips; and virtual reality environments.
Cute and creepy, sentimental and cruel, OReilly’s moving-image works are existential nightmares of childhood abandonment, romantic humiliation, totalitarian brainwashing, and entropy. His seemingly crude aesthetic—anti-naturalist, economical, and rule-based—exploits rather than hides the limitations and artifacts of low-polygon 3-D software and “primitive” digital drawing applications like MS Paint (“the same way [Francis] Bacon didn’t hide brush strokes”), and belies a sophisticated and dazzling use of flattened space, perspective, color, sound, and collage. OReilly also employs some of the most cutting-edge technologies available to contemporary filmmakers, including Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets and various forms of proprietary software.
For this Modern Mondays event, OReilly discusses the many facets of his award-winning career in animation and graphic design, and screens some of his most celebrated films and interactive projects, including Please Say Something (2009), The External World (2010), and the New York theatrical premiere of The Horse Raised by Spheres (2015).