Friday, 1 May 2015

Episode III

With the Newzoids production under way, I've been auto piloting for quite some time and not necessarily had the energy to do anything creative. I work long hours dammit! The only drawing I've done in the past month has been a caricature of my friend Andy (something for his wedding invitations), of which he piped up with what's wrong with my head? Perhaps the bastard's right. Maybe I am out of practice and need to get my pencil fingers back into gear. Pencil fingers; that's a phrase right? I did paint a glorious watercolour picture of my Aunty Val's house in the countryside for her birthday, but regretfully forgot to take a photograph.... so why on earth should you believe me?! When this production ends and the weeks return to normal for me (I work Friday-Tuesday, giving me a midweek weekend. Confused?) I might begin making props and sets for an animation I have in mind.

It all began when I uncovered an ancient storyboard that I had once drawn up in my years at Staffordshire University. It was Star Wars related, so naturally it received my undivided attention. It takes place on the forest moon of Endor, during the aftermath of the battle, and follows a group of troopers as they rally together and figure out how they were beaten by furry, yet savage, Ewoks. I read it a few times and realised that it did have potential. My original plan was to use the forest set from The Money Tree animation and introduce my Star Wars figures (fully poseable) as the puppets and stars of this short episode. Anyway, I am currently finishing the storyboard and hopefully there might be some progression on the designing front. Or it could all be another elaborate ruse to pay with my Star Wars toys.

I follow various movie news and review channels on YouTube. They're informative, interesting and if you find the right presenters then you're having a right ol' time. Anyway, this one chap Mr Sunday Movies has quite the sense of humour and this might well be one of my favourite videos from him. It also helps that it's animated. And, you know, I'm an animator. And I like that sort of stuff. AND YOU WILL TOO.

I still do watch as much animation as possible. I recently finished the entire series of Star Wars Rebels, which takes place between episodes III and IV, and was incredible. But I think I'm talking about this as a fanboy and perhaps not as an animator enthusiast (but I am one!). For those connoisseurs of majestic animation, I have invested in The Illusionist on DVD. I have only seen clips of this traditionally drawn masterpiece and it does look absolutely stunning. So when I have time, I will sit down with some chocolate hobnobs and a glass of milk and in the words of T-Rex; Get It On.

Stuart Messinger and Suzie Templeton preparing for the talk

I was lucky enough to get invited back to Staffordshire University, not for the oatcakes, but for an audience with Suzie Templeton; inspiring animator and Academy Award winning director for her short film Peter and the Wolf (2006). So, accompanied by my esteemed colleague Daniel James, we drove magnificently towards the city of Stoke-on-Trent to get involved in this privileged event.

If you haven't already seen this rendition of the classic fable, then you're a bloody fool missing out on something rather special. And after listening to Suzie talk about her film, you can begin to understand why it holds up as a quintessential, and very recognisable, piece of stop motion. For instance, her decision to ditch the dialogue (inspired by a Pet Shop Boys concert, accompanied by nothing but striking visuals) allows the music to emote the characters and their relationships with each other. Along with the beautifully huge sets and charming character designs (which was a joint collaboration with a group of younger adults. By which I mean... TEN YEARS OLD!) it still looks and feels bloody marvellous. Check out her website, especially the behind the scenes section on this film as it's truly flabberghasting.

Speaking of awesome things...

I am actually nearing the end of my time on Newzoids; I believe there might be a month left on my contract. So apart from revisiting my epic Star Wars animation (working title being 'epic Star Wars animation') I shall be searching for yet another model making quest. And what shalt thy quest be? Thus far my adventures have been rewarding and full of awesomeness, hopefully they will continue, but when? where? how and why?

Find out, in the next episode of The Adventures of Tom's Thumb...
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