Noah battles to overcome his grief following the death of his mother. Who is allowed to speak? What happens when nobody listens? What creates polarization?
Hi David, it's great to talk to you, how's everything going?
Enjoying some sun, so pretty good!
What does it mean to be at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival with Solar Plexus?
It’s great news. Primarily it’s lovely that the short will find an audience and have a bit of a life beyond the school.
Solar Plexus is part of the Cinéfondation, does this add any extra pressure on you?
I don’t think so. The aim of the Cinéfondation is to find filmmakers with potential and give them an opportunity to be inspired. Hopefully, it should help me get some other projects off the ground in the near future.
Will you get any nerves ahead of the festival or are you just taking it all in your stride?
Probably a little. It’s quite a big festival and I’ve never shown a film in that environment before!
Can you tell me a little bit about Solar Plexus, how did this film come about?
I developed the film from discussions with Jessica Sinyard, my screenwriter, who brought me an image of an astronaut suit with an umbilical-like cord emanating from it. It latched onto other ideas that I had been thinking about, particularly images of telephone calls and voids. We developed a few other ideas, but this felt like the one that was best suited for production at that moment in time.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
I was quite keen to try and find a way to move from what I felt to be the more realist space of stop-motion into the more psychological world of paint-on-glass. I tend to return to themes of revisitation, queerness and technology, so the idea of death, umbilical cords and astronauts immediately appealed.
"Watching Solar Plexus back, I’m more keen on the moments where I kept things simple."
What was the most challenging part of bringing Solar Plexus to life?
The end of production was quite challenging as I’d been animating for about 5-6 months most days at that point. Not knowing if it would all come together and being so drained made for a tough few months.
What was the most valuable lesson you've taken from making this film?
I spent a lot of time worrying about uncontrollable variables. Understanding what’s within my control and what actually had a tangible effect on the final work was a great lesson.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I started animating a few years ago. I had been writing and loved telling stories, but wasn’t sure where it was leading. I loved film and art and theatre and I realised that animation stood at the intersection of all these art forms. It also helped that you can just make something completely from scratch, so I started making animations in my spare time and it grew from there.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
I suppose this is my debut film! Even though it’s only 8 minutes, everything before that was around 2-3 minutes due to the time animation takes. Right now I’m just trying to watch more and broaden my palate.
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
I remember talking to my tutors after watching one of my old projects back. They commented on how the simplicity of some of the shots worked well. Watching Solar Plexus back, I’m more keen on the moments where I kept things simple. This isn’t to say that the stories or ideas can’t be complex, but being careful to pick moments in which to make impactful visual choices and the power of understatement is something I’m taking forward.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
I’m not sure if I feel entitled to offer advice! Perhaps just to have a go. I made my first (terrible) animation on an iPhone app. Giving yourself permission to be a bit shit is always a good idea.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Solar Plexus?
I hope that people are taken into the world of the film. If even only a handful of people take something worthwhile from the experience of watching Solar Plexus then I’ll be delighted.