Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MIAF Feature: Blown Away - Seamus Spilsbury

(image source: all images seen in this interview were provided by Seamus Spilsbury)

Today's MIAF feature is with Seamus Spilsbury talking about his film Blown Away.

Blown Away will be screening at the Melbourne International Animation Festival on Wednesday 22nd June at 8pm as part of the International Panorama Programs - Panorama #4: Australian.

Can you tell us a little bit about the story of Blown Away and some of the concepts and themes within the film?

The film is about a clown who shares an unexpected moment with a small boy that helps him deal with the loss of his brother.

When the concept of the film first came about, I had strong ideas that I wanted to create a subtle moment between two characters. I didn’t want to have a grand ending, but just to offer the audience hope for my character in the future.

I wanted to represent the innocence of a child in the sense that regardless of how the clown may appear to an adult, the boy sees the clown as an entertainer and is there to make people laugh. When the balloon pops the boy experiences a moment in which reality becomes clearer, in this instance the boy looks past the clown's exterior, and sees an opportunity to help.

Can you tell us a little about what inspired the look of the film? What made you decide to use stop motion animation instead of other animation techniques?

The look of the film developed over time. I had an idea in my head to begin with but in terms of the final results it was an organic process. To begin with I thought that the film should have a cold tone with lots of blue shades to reflect the clowns feelings of loss and isolation. After trialling this colour scheme I thought using a warmer palette would further demonstrate the clowns loneliness and create a more meaningful contrast between the clown and the environment for the audience.

I chose to use stop motion because it is the medium that I know and that I love. From start to finish you are creating with your hands, you are physically involved with making the film. I am not a fan of using visual effects or computer animation. Stop motion allows me to shoot everything in camera, although it may not be photo realistic it lends a certain charm that can only be created by hand.

Could you talk a little on the process of developing the main characters and how they came to the final result on screen. Did you have many different prototypes? How did you make them?

The clown design ended up being based on the first drawing I did. A few minor changes were made in terms of clothing but the over all look remained the same. The boy was slightly harder, mainly because I wasn’t sure how old I wanted him to be. I ended up basing him on my 7 year old nephew. After this decision was made the design process was easier, it was great for animation also, it provided a real life reference on how the character would move and interact with the clown.

The clown was built to be stationary, only his top half could be animated. His pants and hands were made from Sculpy because they did not have to be animated. His torso was made from plasticine in order to animate small arm movements, breathing and slouching.

The boy’s armature was technically more difficult because he had to be able to run, jump and crouch. For the boys armature I used K&S tubing as pivot points for his hips and shoulders. I wanted to be able to replace a limb in the likely event that the wire broke due to the intensity of the animation. This process allowed me to rebuild the small sections of the boy’s armature instead of having to re-sculpt the entire character.

Are there any future projects you can tell us about stop motion or otherwise?

I’ve just started production on my third year film, which is also stop motion. I’m also working with Darcy Prendergast and the Oh Yeah Wow crew creating a variety of amazing pieces of work. So stay tuned.

And on that note I might just add at the end here that we will be talking to Darcy on Thursday about his film Gravity!

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