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

Georgia Madden 
DIVINATION DAVE 

Section: Funny Side
sheenamation.com

Darkly comical and downright bizarre, Divination Dave tells the story of a crisp loving couch potato who finds himself on a journey of accidental enlightenment when his favourite flavour of salty crisps runs out.

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

 

I’m doing great thanks, even better getting to chat with you guys! Thankfully as an animator I’m used to plenty of time indoors but it’s lovely to be getting back out now cinemas and festivals are opening up!

 

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

 

Well ever since finishing Dave I’ve been eager to get cracking on my next project! While it was brainstorms and writer’s block for a long time, I’m happy to say I’m very close to a finished script and will be starting a new job soon as a ‘Creative Filmmaker’ with Little Wing Film Fest, meaning even more time working on the project!

 

What does it mean to be screening Divination Dave at the 15th BFI Future Film Festival?

 

It’s so surreal I still need pinching! It really does mean a ton as it was the BFI who got me into filmmaking as a profession in the first place! I attended one of their academies at 16, so 4 years later it’s crazy to think my film will be on the big screen at Southbank… and madder still that it’s up for an award!

 

Divination Dave is going to be in the Funny Side Section of the festival, will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?

 

Most definitely! I’m a bit of a hermit and used to working with my puppets who don’t (usually) have much to say… you can see how a big festival like this is giving me butterflies! Nevertheless, it’s a nervous excitement and I can’t wait to have Dave on the big screen

 

Can you tell me a little bit about how Divination Dave came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay and what was the message you wanted to convey with this short?

 

Well the idea for Dave first came about from a stupid google search. I wanted to know what would happen if a person (spoiler alert!) ate a salt lamp. With that in mind and eager to start work on my next project, it all just so happened to coincide with ‘New Creatives North’ – a talent development scheme BBC Arts were running that was looking for young filmmakers to make content for their platform. I pitched them the idea in June 2020 and, hearing nothing back, lost hope and decided to start the project regardless. Come January 2021, New Creatives got back in touch and said they’d love to commission it – which was lucky enough as I already had all my props and puppet ready to go! The inspiration behind it was really just challenging myself to see what I could do with one set and one puppet. Stop motion is notoriously time consuming, especially when working alone, so I’m really proud to have finished it in a year! Had 2020/1 not been the year it had (with the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named and all) I’m not quite sure Dave would have come about… or at least not as quickly as he did… so silver linings I suppose!

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"That was my first steppingstone into stop motion – which is really just the most beautiful marriage of the two."

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

 

Well considering it’s just me working in my spare room alone, I have to hold myself accountable somehow! New Creatives North was certainly a help in this. I always try to set deadlines- leaving myself some wiggle room as I know how unpredictable stop motion can be. When animating, you really do have to plan things to a T, as every second counts – it may not look it but that second that just flashed past was hours of blood, sweat and tears!

 

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced bringing Divination Dave to life?

 

The motivation really! As mentioned, it’s hard to hold yourself accountable when the team is just you. You really start to second guess yourself and wonder is it even going to work? Is what I’m doing worth it? But (with a bit of trial and error) there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m so glad I kept on going!

 

Since making Divination Dave what has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making this film?

 

That everyone is kind of winging it really! I don’t think any filmmaker is certain how their project will turn out. I had to adopt a kind of fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude… is this soap really going to work as a salt lamp? Will the TV static move? What happens if my puppet’s finger breaks? Well, I don’t know but never will till I give it a go!

 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

 

I’ve always had an itch to make things. Art along with film are my two great loves but I never considered them viable careers until my first BFI academy at 16. That was my first steppingstone into stop motion – which is really just the most beautiful marriage of the two. I get to make my own little worlds then make them move and come to life!?! What more could I ask!?

 

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

 

Of course! But I also think it’s important never to feel pressured to make something just for the sake of it or to please others. If it doesn’t excite you – what’s the point? Even ‘bad’ movies have a certain charm when you can tell the people behind them just had a blast! So yes! Push boundaries! So long as it pleases YOU to push them!

 

For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

As pessimistic as it sounds - don’t wait for perfection. I get so hung up trying to nail ideas I often don’t start them and that really does get you nowhere! It’s something I have to remind myself as I work on my current project… just get cracking and fine tune things later!

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Divination Dave?

 

That stop motion is alive, well and not just for kids! Also, don’t eat salt lamps!