An ageing aristocrat finds himself with unexpected, and unwanted, company when he vomits up his own doppelganger. Rebuffing the offer of friendship from his new companion, Duke’s petty greed and selfishness will lead to his murder and the beginning of the cycle once again.
Hi Tim thanks for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?
Thanks for having me!
Lockdown is worryingly similar to my normal routine. I've been freelance for nearly a decade, so working from home and not being sure where the next paycheck is coming from is pretty much business as usual for me. I definitely feel lucky to have enough creative interests to keep me from going crazy though.
As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative ideas?
At the moment it feels like I'm too surrounded by it all to approach it creatively. I like to let film ideas ferment for a few years before I tackle them, so can look at them a bit more objectively. I always have a few scripts hanging around, so I'm hoping maybe this whole mess will give me some time to start work on animating one of them.
Your award-winning short animation This Makes Two of Us had its Online Premiere at the Digithon Festival, how does it feel to have your film part of such a unique festival?
I'm very thankful to Wales Art Review and Cardiff Animation Festival for selecting it. At a time like this, where we're all being kept apart physically and the news feels so relentlessly negative, it's really nice to see people and organisations finding creative ways to bring people together online and generate some positivity.
Did you imagine you would get the reaction you've gotten for This Makes Two of Us?
Not at all! I actually stopped making films for a long time becuase of the experience I had making a short that I'd got funding for. I was trying too hard to make the film I thought the funding body wanted and I lost a lot of what got me interested in the idea in the first place. I felt like I'd put so much into it, only to end up with something that I wasn't really happy with. When I started That Makes Two of Us I was really adament that I'd just make a film for myself and if anyone else liked it then that would be a bonus. Its been a nice suprise to find out that I'm not the only one who likes the idea.
And winning your awards, this must have felt great for you?
Absolutely! Although it always makes me laugh when I see 'award-winning' on promotional material becuase it's so ubiquitous it's almost totally meaningless. My director's bio will probably stand out a lot less now I can write 'award-winning' on it.
You wrote, directed and animated This Makes Two of Us during your MA in Animation at University of South Wales, how did the project come about?
Every January my freelance work goes quiet and I get full of existential dread and make a half-arsed attempt to totally change my life. For years I'd been thinking about doing an MA and that January I must have been particularly terrified becuase I just went for it. The idea itself was one I'd had years ago. I actually spent the whole first term developing another idea, one that was less weird and probably more appealling to my lecturers, but I started having doubts about it and I knew that I'd regret it if I didn't just make the film I wanted to make. The added pressure of starting from scratch a third of the way through the course definitely made things interesting though.
Did you have any apprehensions about taking on so many roles on a film like this?
Only that I wouldn't have enough time to do it all before the deadline. I've been working in the industry for a long time, so I'm used to working creatively with other people, it was a nice change to be able to do everything myself and just act on an idea right away, rather than discuss it with anyone beforehand. It was also the first time I'd done traditional, frame-by-frame animation, so not having any idea what I was getting myself into probably stopped me getting too worried.
Can you tell me a little bit about This Makes Two of Us, what was the inspiration behind this film?
The film is about a bitter, old aristocrat, living alone in his manor house, who vomits up his doppelganger. Throughout the film he mistreats his double until the double eventually kicks him into an oven and eats him, which starts the whole process again. I wanted to explore the idea that someone could be so selfish that he wouldn't even share with himself. The fact that the film is a continuous loop is supposed to show how greed and selfishness is self-perpetuating, one bad turn creates another. I think we're seeing a bit of that now - one person bulk-buys toilet paper and the next person misses out, when that person is finally able to get hold of some they buy as much as they can so they don't miss out again, and so it goes on and on. I never thought toilet paper would be the undoing of society! Maybe that's my creative inspiration from the pandemic, make something toilet-paper related.
"Stop putting off that film you've been waiting to make. This is advice I wish I could also take!!"
What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
Just the sheer amount of work needed to draw it all. I worked 8-10 hours a day, every day for 4 months. That sounds horrible, but it was actually a really amazing experience, just being so totally immersed in a single project with no distractions. It helped that it was a very simple film to make from a technical standpoint, there was no headaches with complex software, rendering or any of those things that can really slow you down and make life hell, it was just down to whether I could draw each frame well enough or not.
Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently?
I made the film chronologically and I can see the point in the film where I really started to understand how to animate in this style, so I should maybe have approached some of the easier shots first, rather than just starting at the beginning. It helped than the style of film is very loose and jagged, so it made a lot of my mistakes look intentional.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yep! I'm much more interested in making films than watching them.
How would say your style and approach to your film projects changed since you started out?
I started out making live-action films, so the techniques have obviously changed a lot since becoming an animator. I think the main thing though is embracing my own particular interests and style, rather than trying too hard to emulate whichever director I was into at the time. It's easy to look at everyone else's work and feel like yours isn't as good, or to want to copy them, but they're probably thinking the same about what you make.
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given when you started out?
Finished is better than perfect.
Now you're an award-winning filmmaker do you have any advice you would pay forward to a fellow filmmaker?
Stop putting off that film you've been waiting to make. This is advice I wish I could also take!!
What are you currently working on?
I started a film last year with a good friend of mine, it's based on a poem I wrote called 'The Grass Round Here Grows at 5000 Miles Per Hour'. We started developing it, then both got caught up with client work and its been sitting there waiting to be picked up again for a whole year. I'm hoping we can get it made, or at least started again, this year.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
The thing that would make me the happiest would be if it made someone want to make a film of their own.