Something a bit random and rather eerie for this post. Doing a bit of landscaping around the house to empty the leaf litter into the bins I was perplexed when I opened up the otherwise untouched bin to first notice the hefty spiders scuttle away amongst the eroding leaves but shocked to notice the sparkling webs sitting above the leaves reflecting the trees from above in a pulpy oozy green. I’ve never seen a spider web like it – the webbing so thick like a slime or saliva from a much bigger creature. It’s as if the garbage juice residue amongst the bin caused some sort of condensation to attach and grow the web in size. I couldn’t help but snap some pictures – with the dangling cocoon framed and suspended in a silky diamond chamber, the funnel of web leading towards it. Nightmarish stuff!
A further collection of images from my latest short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. One of the most difficult shots to film was the boat scene, I went through a few different iterations of cutouts with varying levels of successes and failures. I originally tried to use the same cutout of the man from the previous scenes but I wanted this scene to be fairly wide angled to show a lot of the landscape as the man moves towards the lighthouse. I had to make a new cutout of our hero about one thirds the size of the original and get it just right as the weight from the LED light and lantern on the right meant that it was heavier and in previous attempts warped the paper and flopped the boat downwards – making it difficult to move across the screen. A nice surprise that happened with this scene is when the cutout was slightly further away from the stage, the blue LED lights lit below bled onto the boats undercarriage and helped allude to water. Another scene that was difficult was the pinnacle moment when the Hero lights the lighthouse with his lantern… the amount of times I filmed this because the characters arm was ripped off because of the weight of the LED is something I don’t want to mention – it actually was disemboweled a few frames after what is shown, but you would never know that.
The first group of stills from my latest short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. Originally the colour of this film was going to be all warming sepia tones coupled with inky blacks, I found this lovely textured brown packing paper thrown amongst the pile of amazon boxes and discarded clothes in the store room of our house, after sticking the packing paper onto the picture frame that would become the stage and lighting it from behind – I soon realised that the paper was too thick and the resulting black silhouettes were not as prominent as I liked, I needed the paper to be thin enough and the light to be strong enough that you could see some elements within the distance of the protagonist, to show more depth but also show that he is moving from a variety of different landscapes. I ended up using white grease paper and as for the colour changes I bought a strip of LED lights for previous long exposure experiments that ended up working well with the grease paper so a lot of the colours chosen for pinnacle parts in the film are meant to bring the viewer deeper into the psyche of the protagonist using colour theory.
Truth be told when I decided I wanted to make a short film for this kick about regarding the strange landscape of Dungeness and Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage and garden I was feeling rather blue when the idea came to me. I don’t know why I sometimes torture myself when I feel sad, but the melancholy song that brings tears to my eyes entitled Twice by one Swedish group I admire called Little Dragon was playing in my head on a loop. A lot of the scenes from The Lighthouse Keeper are inspired by the gorgeous music video which can be seen here. The original story for The Lighthouse Keeper was a lot more melancholy, coinciding with how shit I felt, but I couldn’t accomplish it with just two hands and would have needed an assistant to help me with puppeteering the characters. While sitting on the idea for a while I decided to change the story to a more uplifting one so that I could accomplish it, and I think it turned out a better one.
I then abandoned this project for some time. The stage has been looming behind me for far too long as focusing in on perfectionism of the sets, lights, and movements of the characters felt relentless, trying to delve into a different medium one that is hands on and one that I can’t delete away mistakes was at times really testing. I really wanted the film to be as analogue as possible and for everything to be shot in camera, but realising it was an impossible approach and that I would have to rely on trickery done right to look like it was all in camera was the right methodology and ended up as a far more enjoyable experience. I leaned on newer technology as well as predeceasing technology that old films did so well.
A lot of behind the scenes footage has been filmed of what went into the making of this short film but I think I would rather let it be and not ruin the magic by showing how it is done… or showing the many instances where the stage toppled off the table, or when the characters arm flew off, or when my fan for the weather scene took everything along with it. Dismantling the stage, folding the grease paper, popping the many tools and props into jars and putting the little characters to rest in neat folders feels nice but in an odd way as there is something so unique and cherishing about finishing a film that you made with your hands, my bedroom certainly feels a lot roomier now that the stage is no longer.
With this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir“ I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal and I always connect this time of year with the cosiest of films. I may have been watching too many of the horror and slasher type, but with this prompt my head went straight to the macabre. There was lots of trickery and doing and trying with this project, I will be sharing all the fun revolving around the in’s and out’s of how I got the resulting photographs up to this point in the coming days. Stay tuned.
Some great news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the Human-Environment category with The International Human Environment Care Film Festival in the Heart Of Pickering, Canada. The International Human Environment Care Film Festival has a special interest and preference in submissions that speak about the conservation of our planet as it reads “it is our belief nature is the mother of life, and its importance is undeniable. We wish to watch more films commemorating the value of the environment and nature. Films that speak on behalf of nature. Today environmental protection is the biggest challenge of humankind and we hope films can contribute to this challenge.”
Pools was discovered deep with the caverns of the forestry in Ireland where it was filmed and I may not be done with the footage and photography just yet, a recent wave of inspiration ignites the feeling of diving back in..
Some good news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the experimental category and will be screened with 7th Siding Festival of Film. The 7th Siding Festival of Film has a special interest and preference in submissions that are ‘Rural’ and or remotely produced locations outside of urban centre’s. Films are exhibited in 4 venues in Creston, including the single screen art deco style Tivoli Theatre first opened in November 1938!
Some more experimental renders from Ersilia. I am currently animating the climax scenes where the intensity is ramped up and the music pulses and throbs. More updates to come 〰️
This kick about over at Reds Kingdom was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed injecting some colour into the greyness that is 2020. Dancing blobs, brush strokes and spirals got me out of a bit of a funk as I think it’s impossible to fret when listening to the tunes of Arnold Ammons who accompanied the vivacious animation by Norman McLaren – The whole Boogie Woogie genre is sure to make you smile.
It’s also proving worthwhile translating what I am learning from the Ersilia project into this little animation as the same old school paint effect techniques of those constricting ropes in which Ersilia resides is used in a much more colourful way with this approach. I apologise for the tragic quality of the video! for some reason it looks like I uploaded it with a microwave… but as this current version is a WIP hopefully I’ll figure out why the crispness is naught… or maybe that works well with the nostalgia of the music? I’ve attached some screen grabs and more experimental renders that are being edited in for the latter chunk of the song.