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15th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 
17-20 February 
Interview

Becky-Lulu Dartnell 
Life's Meeting Room

Section: Through the Looking Glass
beckyluludartnell.com

Life is a stop motion animated documentary answering the question of "What is the meaning of life?' This film is based around interviews with people during lockdown. 

Hey Becky-Lulu, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

Lockdowns and restrictions were difficult, as I assume it was for most people. However, I am doing well and I have found opportunity for new creativity to develop during this time.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

Yes and no. The Covid pandemic has made it more difficult to find work within the industry. However it has given the opportunity to think more and come up with more film/art ideas. The social, psychological and philosophical inspirations are all around us responding to the pandemic. Life’s Meeting Room has had the opportunity to be shown at multiple festivals. I have also used this time to volunteer with Our World Too as an animator for their social media.

What does it mean to be screening Life’s Meeting Room at the 15th BFI Future Film Festival?

I am extremely excited. The BFI was at the top of my list of where I wanted my film to be screened. I am so honoured that it was picked. I am grateful for the support from BFI.

 

Life’s Meeting Room is going to be in the Through the Looking Glass Section of the festival, will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?

 

Yes, most definitely. I am generally a very nervous person. I think this helps though with my creativity, pushing me to stand out in other ways. I am a deep thinker, always looking for different perspectives and solutions. The support my film has received has been overwhelming. I am nervous but also excited - the BFI platform may provide the industry opportunity that I’m seeking.

 

What is it about stop-motion animation that connected with you so much as a filmmaker?

I connect with stop motion as it enables you to recreate what you imagine in real life. It gives me the opportunity to make a character’s own environment and bring that character to life - stop motion has no boundaries or limitations. It allows materials to be manipulated to create and tell a story, to emote. It combines all methods of art, animation and film.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about how Life’s Meeting Room came about, what was the inspiration behind your film and what was the message you wanted to convey with this film?

I am constantly battling the question, what is the meaning of life? This was heightened during the national lockdowns. I spoke to friends and family; their thoughts and feelings during this time were provoking, diverse yet all equally valid. I thought this would make a great film to get people thinking deeper about life. The Zoom call structure of the film represents a big part of the pandemic and how we stayed connected. The planning and idea was developed during lockdown, being heavily influenced by the situation. I wanted this film to get people reflecting and caring more about what they want to get out of life, whilst also thinking more about the well-being of others.

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When working on a short film like this how flexible do you allow yourself?

I always have an overall schedule with key sub-deadlines to meet, for example treatment, storyboard, animatic, building characters and set, animating, editing and sound. I always allow extra time for myself to attend to any errors or unpredicted problems that may occur. It allows new creative responses to ongoing development.

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Life’s Meeting Room to life?

My biggest challenge I faced, creating this film, was recording interviews. Due to the lockdowns I audio recorded most through calls and interviewee self recordings. I came up with the Zoom call structure partly to justify voice quality inconsistencies. Therefore my biggest challenge became a positive, giving authenticity.

Since making Life’s Meeting Room what has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making this film?

The most valuable lesson I have taken from making this film is to not be limited but to break all creative boundaries.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I have had a passion for art, since forever. I always wanted to be a painter, but I started to feel limited and wanted to push my art into more. This led me to deciding last minute to choose a degree in animation rather than fine art. I am always looking for unique outlooks on the world.

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?

Yes, definitely! The world is never short of new ideas, situations, creative inventions and outlooks. Animation can push boundaries to beyond what is real.

"I hope people connect more with each other, not only contemplating their own life but being genuinely interested about others."

For anyone out there thinking about getting into stop-motion animation do you have any tips or advice you would offer them?

Be as creative as you want, ignore all limitations. I’ve also found ways to create my films on a budget, using materials found around the house. There’s also a lot of items on social media where people are recycling unwanted materials, for free. I’ve found ways of working around money constraints, this often lends itself to becoming more creative and individualistic.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Life’s Meeting Room?

I hope people connect more with each other, not only contemplating their own life but being genuinely interested about others. Promoting outward thinking and an understanding that we are a diverse crowd of human beings - serious, light hearted and humorous.