Thursday, 21 May 2020

Nothing New

'Nothing New' is the title of mine and collaborator Alan Livesey's animated short which we completed in July 2019. I have known Alan for about nine years, though this is our first collaboration. He is a talented writer and director and hopefully this will be the first of many films we make as a creative partnership. As it happens, we are working on another project together at the moment.

This blog post comes as a result of having recently cut together a super short teaser trailer type thing, so we had a moving clip of the film to show. Due to the virus, it's UK festival premiere has been postponed, but we both wanted something for our websites which was more than just a still image, but didn't want to display the film in full. A teaser trailer was the best way to go about this.

Life in 2019 was quite chaotic for me on a personal level, so ended up making just this one film. Despite the lack of quantity in terms of my creative output, I feel this was a great project to have completed on numerous levels, especially in the fact that it was a collaboration (more on that later). I also managed to complete a lot of animation 'test clips', really exploring and pushing my style- something I continue to do when not working on a major project. Always great for my showreel, too!

This film actually started off as just some test pieces. Rewind: I have an Instagram page for my animation production company and I like to post at least once post a week on there, because you know if you don't post regularly you lose engagement and all that. I don't often care too much for posting on a super frequent basis, as I feel like being present in real life is more meaningful to me than losing myself in algorithms and engagement. If I did that, then I would cut down the time I spend on creativity, though I understand this is the 21st century and having social media and web presence is pretty much essential. Anyway, rambling here, back to the main point: I decided to rotoscope some shots of hands as an exercise in style and development. I then started to consider more carefully what I wanted to include in each scene and realised there was a theme going on: the clips were all 'mundane', every day type activities, or at least, mostly. The less mundane ones didn't make the final cut, like picking up a pizza slice. There is nothing mundane about that!

Once I had a fair amount of clips, I was talking about the project with Alan and asked whether he would like to have a look at it and if he might have a script for a voice over in mind. Our conversation continued and it revealed that a theme we would both like to explore through our films would be existentialism. We are normal though, I promise! Anyway, a bit of back and forth with script drafts, we had 'Nothing New': a story of a woman who discusses what life means to her in a voicemail message, after quitting her routine driven job. Alan was also responsible for casting our wonderful voice actress Janelle, amongst directing her on the day of the shoot.

I'm so pleased how the film turned out and without collaborating with Alan, the film would not have been the film it is- it would probably still just be a load of these test clips sitting around on my computer and Instagram page. I don't often collaborate with people as various 'group film' projects during my education put me off that. I think those don't 
always work out, as you are often grouped together by a lecturer and placed with people who might not necessarily share the same creative values as yourself. Others in the group might have visions of creating huge blockbusters with explosions and guns, whereas you might have visions of creating something more understated and character driven. I'm pleased that I have found someone I can collaborate with though, as the film was much better for it and we both got something positive out of the experience.

The film is very short, clocking in at just ninety seconds- made with the DepicT competition (make a film lasting ninety seconds or under) in mind, run annually alongside Bristol Encounters Festival. I like to try and enter it each year, as it's a project I can just about manage with no budget and often working solo. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful, though we were accepted for international competition at Cardiff Animation Festival, which was fantastic news as I loved the festival when I attended in 2018. Sadly (and correctly), it was postponed due to you know what, but it will be screened at the rescheduled festival, which I can't wait for!

The aspect ratio of the film is square (1:1), because as the test clips were originally intended to be screened only on social media where a square video works better than a rectangle 16:9 (or slimmer). This is because a square video appears larger on a mobile device as it fills up the screen equally both vertically and horizontally. You probably know that I like experimenting in my work (unless you have only just stumbled upon this blog, then hello and welcome, by the way) and experimenting with an aspect ratio was a continuation of that. I liked using it for this film and it definitely suited it, though for our current collaboration we are developing, it is going to be in standard 16:9. I am also working on another short, again a little ninety-seconder for same competition and this one is a 4:3 (academy) aspect ratio. I just like to try them all, really!

Without further ado, here is the teaser:

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