An anti-gravity baby raver, the clapping hands of god and an interplanetary journey from the outer reaches to the inner workings of the head. Standard. We’ve had Noah Harris’ latest promo for Julio Bashmore on the brain this week so managed to pull him out of a darkened studio to bask in the rays for a while and explain more about the evolution of the project.
Was there a brief of sorts for this one or was it a totally open pitch when the track came in?
Not really a brief as such but I was aware that they had already put the video out to pitch and had live action treatments back which Julio wasn’t feeling. The suggestion was definitely that animation was probably a good route to take… The timing was perfect for me as I was looking to do something very graphic, detailed and animated maybe as a personal project, so the two became one…
Tell us about the production on this one – who designed the various elements of the art direction? Do you have a lead animator you work with regularly? How big was the team?
I guess the film started as a huge piece of graphic design in my head really… the bones of the design were definitely laid out early on before anyone else came on board as a crucial part of the concept of the film – the design is integral to the idea. But the illustrator – Gerrel Saunders, the Art Dept – Stripeland, animator – Andy Biddle and DOP – Toby Howell were all instrumental in pushing that design forward and making it a reality. There were parts of the film that were pretty set in my initial design – the jumping dog, the golden arse, the black shapes in the air etc, the hands flying over the clouds in the style of the golden age of rave… But then others evolved over the course of the pre-production.
Andy Biddle, Ben and Ben from Stripeland and I spent a while rooting around scummy market stalls and car boots trawling for objects that we could put together to create loops, proper junk really some of it, stuff you wouldn’t even consider buying normally, stuff you wouldn’t even consider touching normally in some cases!
We had four key stop frame animators working on the film, Andy, Henry, Tom, Matt, with Luke in the art dept also being a talented animator and animating a couple of shots. Each of them worked over and above the call of duty and produced some amazing footage…
Andy Biddle is definitely my go to man when I want to create something new and amazing in animation, He’s generally excited about the intitial concepts and gets involved early on so we can work together to find a way to make it even more amazing… he definitely brings something very creative to the table that I hugely value.
How long did the shoot take?
The shoot was 14 long consecutive days… overall the project has taken around 10 weeks…
And should we take there to be a meaning in amongst the madness!
Well, yes and no… I hate to over-theorise this stuff, but its essentially depicting a process of evolution, from the graphic amoeba at the start of the film to the weird love child of god and humanity at the end.. it’s like a fully self contained graphic eco system that we view the entire lifespan of over the course of the film.
I think Julio and the label let me loose on this largely on faith.. as I’m not sure they understood much of what I was on about in my treatment.
What is it about the stop motion process that you enjoy? Its a technique you’ve used in a few of your films from Brother to Kia.
Stop frame just has an utterly unique feel. Stop frame done to this level is painful, especially in this kind of timeframe, but the end results are hugely rewarding. I can’t think of any other way I could have realized this idea and achieved the mood and tone I was aiming for. Creating this film in stop frame has an absurdity to it… a kind of ‘why bother’ incredulity… but when you watch the end result.. You know why, because its unique and special, and nothing else comes close to how it feels.
I guess as a director I also find it something that I feel able to control.. For example I often find with CG that there is way more room for misinterpretation of direction. Stop frame feels more like live action in the way that it is (slightly) more immediate, it is realized in front of your eyes, whereas CG is often realized in a dark room somewhere in front of someone else’s eyes then presented to you… and often its not how you envisaged it… with stop frame like this, all the elements are there, and I implicitly trust the animator to bring them to life in the way we have agreed.