14th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL, 2021
"AS A MEDIUM IT'S ALWAYS EVOLVING, ANIMATORS ARE CONSTANTLY DEVELOPING NEW SOFTWARE TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE THINGS, WHICH MEANS IT NEVER FEELS STALE."
Section: WE'RE NOT OUR TRAUMA
Mind (FULL) is an abstract animated short that embarks upon a journey through a restless mind, treading through moments of increasing chaos until it becomes too much to bear. Animated using under camera techniques and soft pastels and soundtracked with household objects, the film encapsulates a whirring and overwhelming emotion that is eventually eased by a deep breath and a moment of calm.
Hi Tilly thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
It’s been a strange year..! There have been difficult moments, but also moments of unexpected joy (like Taylor Swift’s surprise quarantine albums, cough cough), I’m definitely trying to find happiness in the small things much more now. That said, I miss my friends an awful lot and I’ll be so happy when I can finally hug them again!
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?
Like many people, finding the energy to be creative at the moment has been a bit of a struggle for me! I’m currently in my third year of university studying Animation at UCA Farnham and I’m working on my graduation film, which is a paint-on-glass animated project, so that’s my main channel for creativity at the moment. I think having a project to work on has been helpful in giving me a routine to follow; having deadlines to work to can be overwhelming, but it also forces you to find inspiration and channel that creative energy into something tangible.
Congratulations on having Mind (Full) selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of We Are Not Our Trauma section?
It feels amazing to have such a personal film included in such a great festival! Being a part of the We Are Not Our Trauma section and seeing films that other young people have made about their personal struggles is really inspiring, being able to empathise and share stories with each other is so important, particularly at the moment. I think having that shared experience is the biggest thing I’m going to take away from the festival.
Can you tell me a little bit about Mind (Full), how did this film come about?
I made Mind (FULL) as my first project during my second year at university. We had 12 weeks to make a short film, and that was the result! It was the first time I had made a short film; that summer had been a difficult one for me, and anxiety and fear fully hit me when we started uni again and the workload ramped up.
I had recently downloaded the app Headspace and started meditating for a few moments a day, and it really helped to ease some of the anxiety I was feeling. That ultimately inspired me to make a film about meditation, and how the simple action of breathing helped me push through all my chaos to find a place of calm.
What where the biggest challenges you faced brining this film to life?
When I originally pitched the film it was much more narrative based, but advice from my tutors encouraged me to make it more abstract instead. I had no experience of making anything experimental or abstract before so it was definitely a challenge at the beginning of undoing the work I had done, and moulding it into something different. Ultimately though it ended up being very freeing, and gave me a new perspective when creating for other projects.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
Since making the film, I have much more animation experience, and I feel like my drawing has gotten a lot stronger because of it, so there are definitely moments where I would want to make the compositions more interesting, or to make the animation more dramatic. But when I look back at Mind (FULL), I really feel a sense of pride from it. It’s not a perfect film, but when I remember the circumstances I made it in, and how I felt at the time, I’m impressed with my past self for just carrying on and getting it done!
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Mind (Full)?
Probably resilience: I remember being several weeks from the deadline and discussing with my friend Naomi how neither of us could actually visualise having a final film to hand in; it seemed like such a distant reality. But we both did it! So now when I feel similarly lost, I remember how it was achievable then with Mind (FULL), and how it can be achievable again, just got to keep going.
Where did your passion for animation come from?
I read a lot when I was younger, and I’ve always had a fondness for storytelling, and as my mum often reminds me, I was also a constantly busy child, rarely seen without a paintbrush or a pencil in my hand. So, to me animation is the perfect medium. Making short films allows you to be hands-on in both departments: it combines art and narrative so perfectly, it’s hard to resist!
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?
Some advice that’s been in my head recently comes from my course leader, who reminds us often that ‘it’s better to do things in small doses and often, rather than in one huge rush’. It feels particularly poignant at the moment when things can feel overwhelming, and so doing work in bite-sized chunks every day has helped me maintain a healthier momentum (and mindset), and stopped me from overworking myself.
"Including your personal experiences, even if only in a small way, will help make your film unique..."
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Of course! I think animation in particular is a great way for filmmakers to push boundaries. As a medium it’s always evolving, animators are constantly developing new software to change and improve things, which means it never feels stale. It also doesn’t have the limitations that live-action film can often have, meaning filmmakers can stretch the boundaries of their ideas even further.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Don’t be afraid to put a piece of yourself in each film you make. I like to think of short films being like a time capsule, and having a genuine link to the filmmaker while they were creating it. Including your personal experiences, even if only in a small way, will help make your film unique, and give it a great sense of authenticity. Also: experiment! Draw, paint, make a mess, go wild!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Mind (Full)?
I’d really like to encourage people to explore more types of animation. Before I came to university I didn’t realise that you could animate with pastels or paints, or anything that you set your mind to really! I wish I’d known sooner that it was a possibility, so it would be lovely to see more people making pastel-animated films like Mind(FULL), or simply exploring the world of craft animation.