Referendum - animating the news

still from Referendum animation
Just squeezed in film No.7 to 2014 - a tiny one-minute animation on the Scottish referendum which was made for the BBC Draw the News site. Open submission, and no fancy competition but great feedback and probably seen by more people that films at a festival; especially as it's still online. Again, the challenge was in the tight format - 60 seconds - and creating a semi-abstract figure to represent everypeasant.


Colin Rides Again

still from North, colin the dog
Colin the Dog has become a book chapter on Cinematic Representations of "North", part of a themed ;publication from the conference.... Its written, but who knows when it will be published. (Sheffield university Press...watch this space) Very strange to write a critical analysis of your own work...so long after leaving artschool and that PhD. A really useful exercise in articulating what you are trying to do and why...also makes you feel quite clever. It's the artists way of showing your working out, maybe.


Music for Animations

Baby animation still
film playing inside old fashioned pramBaby...Success of the year for 2014 shown at Wimbledon 2014, Breeze Creatives event at Durham and at Whitley Bay Film Festival - installed in a pram. Baby was a silent film with a brilliant soundtrack composed and played by percussionist Nik Alevroyiannis. Looking forward to more possible collaborations with sound-people, this opens up a new depth to the animations, making a mood/ emotional space and giving it pace. These aren't commercial films, so I'm not in a position to "commission" music... but we are considering a reciprocal arrangement via animated music video...
Baby was an attempt to be less literal/ more abstract - free-er - with the figures... using the power of animation to enable powerful metaphors.
Photo from Whitley Bay: Miki Z


When Egg & Chips Collide

egg & chips, still from Blue Moon cafe
film number 6 of 2014 was Blue Moon Cafe. 1 minute short...which took three times as long as the last 1 minute short. But it is termtime at Teesside... and a book chapter to write...I love animation, but there's always other stuff to be done
Leamington Underground Cinema winners laurels
I seem to be better at very short shorts - BMC was selected for, and subsequently winner of the Leamington Undeground Cinema festival 60 second Max challenge (2015) . Also selected for Wimbledon Short Film Festival 2015 . Plus you get more badges


BBC online - Freedom

still from Freedom cartoon, BBC
I discovered that working to a theme is good for when you can't find the next story yet...It concentrates your mind...provided the theme is inspiring . "Freedom" was a response to an open submission call by the BBC, for a one-minute film. Time limits are also good - for helping you focus and edit down to the essentials of the story. In this film I was trying to combine black-and-white textured drawing with very bright, saturated colour like stained glass windows. Also to tell a story involving abstract concepts without any dialogue - just noises.



man tweezering nose hair, from the  Bathroom Cabinet of Dr Calamari
After an insanely long time, "The Bathroom Cabinet of Doctor Calamari" is finally completed.  A collaboration with Paul (voice of the shed) Baldwin, this short animation is about- amongst other things - nostril hair, bathroom plumbing and existentialist dread. Visually realistic but simultaneously surreal, it started as a coffee conversation, and a title, related to a silly story about plughole monsters that Paul used to tell his kids. This was a lively process of co-writing, and real collaboration (necessitating strict storyboarding). Paul composed and edited all the soundtrack; the limited voice-overs we needed were complicated by the fact that one had to be a child (and our fist choice child's voice broke before we had finished!) Great fun and the conversations generated many images and comic ideas...but ultimately a bit cumbersome and slow...I prefer working on my own and then letting someone add their music/interpretation afterwards!



still from "Growing" with caption:must be less literal
2014 gave me time for 8 new animations...and film 4 was "Growing" - a film about rewilding and inspired by the festival/ conference I attended - with Miki Z in Scotland "Carrying the Fire" .

I was hoping the Dark Mountain project- who run the festival - would be interested in the finished film, but apparently it was too literal. I've since changed the ending to make it more surreal... and shown it at the solar-powered sol cinema at the Festival of Thrift, Darlington. The characters here were quite realistic (in a way), but as the film was NOT in black/white it was interesting to think about race/ colour and how we do or don't use it in animation. Race is mostly irrelevant in the stories I'm animating, (this one for example is about life in built-up cities and our relationship with nature...which might have startling differences in different cultures, but globally, this is a very simple story)...but gender is often crucial... I also discovered I really prefer animating women, or characters who are quite over-the-top and abstracted.


Fresh Air

Maudie from Fresh Air animation
Another silent movie with strange noises...this one stars Maudie, unlikely hero of "The Meadows" Rest Home. making animations about older female characters makes you think of interesting questions like how do we distinguish male and female in animations, what are the signs that indicate female or old, how do we do this in a way that makes an individual character and not a stereotype?  I'm trying to use movement and expression and the behaviour of the character in relation to the story...referencing her memories and a sense of "nothing to lose"...
This film was selected for Sunderland Short Film festival 2015, where the critics were nice enough to say that the crude drawings (?!) were indeed a breath of fresh air. Not sure I was shooting for crude, but I'm happy with rough, or even wobbly. Animation should probably have movement!