Joe Bladamer

Overload screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player

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A noisy, delayed and busy train journey can be difficult for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The character struggles in a packed train carriage filled with children crying, business men talking loudly on the phone and people pointing and staring. Each time the train stops and the doors open people flood in and it becomes increasingly busier and crowded. Will he cope on the journey or is he alone?

Hi Joe thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times? 

I have been doing well and keeping busy during this time, I think that’s the key for dealing with the situation right now! It’s a shame about so many brilliant events being canceled but it has also enabled a lot of time to be creative and make films! 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration? 

This time has definitely inspired me creatively, I have been focusing most of my time into freelancing in stop motion animation which has been a very fulfilling experience making weird and wacky animations for a range of different people of all backgrounds, That and I have also been working on a new stop motion short film here and there! I have also started learning a few musical instruments which I hope to include in future films.    

Congratulations on having Overload selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of Finding My Crew section? 

Thank you! It means a lot to be included in the festival in the Finding My Crew section as my animation is very personal to me. I aimed for it to educate and hopefully entertain people with a subject I was personally never taught about in school.  

Can you tell me a little bit about Overload, how did this film come about? 

Overload is a claymation film about a difficult train journey for someone with Aspergers. I was diagnosed with Aspergers as a teenager, I had always felt different from a young age and the challenges I faced became more apparent when entering secondary school. After the diagnosis everything made a lot more sense and I understood how to manage and improve my daily life. Overload was a film to explain how It can feel to have Aspergers but also for it to be relatable to others. 

What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life? 

The biggest challenge when creating the film was the amount of time I needed to spend animating, Stop motion animation takes so long to create and with Overload I was very ambitious with the amount of different characters all moving at once which took forever to animate! In the end I had spent a year from start to finish on the film, although I was working on it on and off in my spare time, there was many 12 hours straight animation sessions required to complete the film!  

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this project? 

I wish I had included a scene showcasing that having Aspergers isn't all negative, it can give you a different and unique way of thinking and the ability to have very focused and in depth knowledge on particular subjects. In the film I focused purely on raising awareness about the challenges but I wish I had a section to celebrate the differences too. 

What was the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from making Overload? 

Animating several characters at once is very difficult! That being said Im happy with how the shots turned out as I wanted the scene to appear busy and claustrophobic. Having patience when animating is very important as some of the busy shots in the film took hours to animate only a couple seconds! 

Describe your film in three words? 

Crowded, Discomfort, Confusion.  

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from? 

My passion for filmmaking came from my love of creativity from as young as I can remember, I was constantly drawing cartoons and comics as a kid and at the age of 8 I started animating. I saw it as a way of bringing my cartoons and ideas to life and I am completely self taught and that's something I value. I see stop motion as a very freeing art form, you can make anything you could ever imagine out of clay and make it come to life. There are no rules of how you should or shouldn't animate.  

"Some of the best films were shot on old camera’s, you don't need a big budget to create something special and its getting easier and easier to start creating films from your phone!"

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give? 

Don’t overwork yourself. The problem with stop motion animation and many other forms of film is its very easy to work for hours and hours with no breaks because you get lost in a scene. Taking that break between shots can really help keep your mind focused and energy levels high. I will always try to keep that advice in mind when tackling a big animation. 

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell? 

Definitely. In more recent years I have really enjoyed creating films with meanings that are important to me. Pushing boundaries can get people talking and can really help highlight issues and raise awareness for topics that need to be focused on. Films are a great medium to explain and share ideas in a way that can feel more direct than other art forms. 

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker? 

Don’t compare yourself to other filmmakers. Art is so varied with so many different styles and subjects, It can feel easy to dismiss yourself as untalented compared to big production companies and famous artists, But its all a journey of telling stories and ideas and your skills will always improve with time. Some of the best films were shot on old camera’s, you don't need a big budget to create something special and its getting easier and easier to start creating films from your phone! Your passion and creativity is the most valuable part of film making. 

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

I hope the film will help people understand and relate to how Aspergers can effect someone. It shouldn't be something to be embarrassed about or ashamed to have, it's a different way of thinking, autism is not a disease, don't try to cure it... try to understand it.  

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