Throughout the autumn of last year I took part in Stellar Network’s Story Innovation programme, a development lab for creatives working across film, games (of all sorts), theatre, sound design and creative technology. The programme was split into two areas: the first two months were focused on taught seminars and workshops exploring the intersection between media, reaching audiences across multiple platforms and telling stories using interaction and non-linear narrative. In the second part of the programme the 20 participants split into four groups and worked on individual projects, developing a prototype to a brief set by a partner organisation. I was in a group with a diverse set of people including screenwriter and director Chris Andrews, Playtest UK organiser Rob Harris, Creative Technologist / pop-up barman Felix Cohen and theatre director Poonam Brah from 3Fates. Our brief was set by National Trust, who challenged us to come up with a new way of exploring their Homerton heritage site Sutton House. The house has a rich history dating back to the 15th century and has witnessed and survived the reformation, the plague, two world wars and urban regeneration. It has been a family home, a school, a trade union centre and an ’80s squat. Visitors to the house have included Samuel Pepes and Oliver Cromwell.
We decided to bring this history to life by creating interpretations of the house’s past events and playing these out using actors, recorded in situ using a binaural microphone. This technique means that when you play back the sound recorded live it seems to be unfolding all around the listener, putting them right in the middle of the action. Using FM transmitters placed throughout the location, visitors are then able to navigate different scenes – unstuck in time and moving through history like a ghost.
Actress Victoria Grove during the binaural audio recording of an interpretation of Sutton House’s history
We successfully prototyped the project with the help of sound artist Joel Cahen and actors Victoria Grove and Anne-Sophie Marie.
I am now using the techniques and ideas we explored over the course of this project to develop a new idea for a site-specific, immersive audio experience which should take the listener on a dark, unsettling and hypnotic journey, in which the removal and reinterpretation of external stimulus creative a challenging and transformative internal journey. The project is being developed in collaboration with Chris Andrews and should be ready to experience (if you dare) in the summer. Watch this space for more details.
This Wednesday 8th January I’ll be showing a selection of my shorts and discussing the process behind them at Whirlygig Cinema’s Spotlights event at Attic in Hackney Picturehouse. Spotlights is a short film night that shines a light on the work and practice of new filmmakers, and the focus of this edition is animation. I’ll be presenting alongside animators tea&cheese (Liam Tate and Jamie Stanton) and Adam Wells.
My short film Ballad of a Broken Vow will also be screening with a live bespoke soundtrack at Whirlygig’s Making Tracks retrospective event at Rich Mix on January 11th as part of London Short Film Festival.
Hope to see you at either or both!
My RCA MA Graduation Film Devil In The Room has been hitting festivals thick and fast this autumn, with screenings including Underwire Festival, Leeds International Film Festival, Cork Film Festival and London International Animation Festival. We’ve had some fantastic responses, not least a lovely piece on the Film4 blog describing the film as “darkly funny” and picking it out as one of Underwire Festival’s five most memorable shorts. Look out for its next screening in January as part of London Short Film Festival.
Q&A following Devil In The Room screening as part of London Animation Festival’s Animated Documentary programme at Barbican in October
The Dewberry Empire, the very strange and beautifully drawn animated short by animator and director Christian Schlaeffer which I co-produced earlier this year has won Best Student Film at Bradford Animation Festival, the UK’s longest running Animation Festival. The jury said: “The wonderful cinematography, characterisation and storytelling in the Dewberry Empire combined to capture a unique moment in time. A glimpse into the emotional extremes and limitless possibilities of a childhood world contained within a summer afternoon.” The film will be playing in London in January as part of London Short Film Festival.
the dewberry empire – trailer from christian schlaeffer on Vimeo.
If you missed the Sleep Paralysis Project’s cameo on BBC Radio 4′s The Night Visiting documentary you can catch it again here. The show looks at the theme of night visitors, common to folk songs, and examines the romantic, social and more sinister aspects of this. I throw in my ten cents worth alongside Prof Chris French, discussing the nature of states between sleep and wakefulness, where anything becomes possible.
Devil In The Room Teaser from Sleep Paralysis Project on Vimeo.
On the same subject, my short film Devil In The Room will be screening at two London festivals in the next two months. At the end of October we’ll be at the Barbican as part of London International Animation Festival’s Animated Documentary programme. Then in November we’ll be at the lovely Underwire Festival, as part of their Celluloid Sculptors Directors’ showcase. Check out the full programmes for both festivals, there is some ace stuff going on.
Look out for the You Took a Child and You Made Them Old screening at the upcoming BFI London Film Festival. It looks like a great programme and features the premiere of The Dewberry Empire, an animated short by talented animator and director Christian Schlaeffer, which I co-produced. This unusual short is a 2013 graduation short from the RCA Animation MA, and tells a story of the social and political games played by two children on a strange, still summer afternoon.
I had a great time on Saturday presenting Devil In The Room alongside an in-depth talk about the Sleep Paralysis Project at Geekfest Nine Worlds Convention. It was an epic event of maximum geekery, including many comic books, much sci-fi and an excellent programme of talks as part of the Skeptic Magazine’s programme strand, of which we were a part. You can read my full round up of the event on the Rich Pickings review blog.
And if you still haven’t had enough of sleep paralysis, you can listen to me and Christopher French talk about the project with the Guardian’s Alok Jha on the Guardian Online’s Science Weekly Podcast..
Devil In The Room Teaser from Sleep Paralysis Project on Vimeo.
It’s been a lot of fun in recent weeks presenting Devil In The Room, my Royal College of Art graduation film, to preview audiences. The film is an experimental animated documentary about sleep paralysis, supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award as part of the Sleep Paralysis Project. An intimate event at RCA saw the film play alongside a talk about the subject from project consultants Prof Christopher French and Dan Denis. I also screened Limbus, an animated short about narcolepsy by Helena Patay. The event was rounded off by a live performance of some of the music which had been written for the film by Dominic de Grande.
Royal College of Art event: sleep paralysis discussion and music from Sleep Paralysis Project on Vimeo.
After this I was invited to present the film at GV Art and Mind Symposium, a fascinating discussion event curated by GV Gallery, a Central London art gallery with a science focus. I screened the film and discussed my experiences with sleep paralysis alongside Paul Broks, project consultant and author of the beautiful book Into the Silent Land.
The film is now beginning its festival run and will screen at a number of events this summer. We’re delighted to have been selected to compete for the Grand Prix Animation at the 19th Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, the country’s leading international short film showcase. The film will screen as part of the animation programme on September 20th at Bristol’s Arnolfini. The film has also been selected to screen as part of this year’s London Animation Festival in October. On Saturday August 10th we’ll be presenting the film at Geekfest Nine World’s Conference alongside a talk on sleep paralysis and I’ll also be presenting the project at this year’s Narcolepsy UK Conference in September.
I’m just finishing up post on Devil In The Room, an eight minute mixed-media animation I’ve been directing as part of the Sleep Paralysis Project. This project, supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, is an exploration of the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, across various platforms. I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant collaboartors on the project including seeper, an arts and technology collective who created a beautiful projection mapped set for a stop motion sequence in the film.
I’ve also had the pleasure to work with model makers Anna Ginsburg and Jen Cardno who created some brilliantly spooky demonic characters inspired by myths about nocturnal demons from around the world. And it’s been fantastic to once again collaborate with composer Dominic de Grande, who has written a some beautiful music for the short including this very catchy number:
The project was originally inspired by my own experiences with sleep paralysis but since it went live it’s been brilliant to hear from people form all over the world with amazing – and sometimes terrifying – sleep paralysis stories. I’ll be making some recordings and written accounts of these available soon in an open research area of the project.
More on the project, where you can see it and a teaser trailer soon.