Just like that … it ends. Animation on FILTH is complete. Total days in front of the camera: 345. I’m having mixed feelings about this moment which is not often the case at the end of shooting. It’s usually pure joy and relief that it’s over but FILTH was different. I don’t remember laughing as much at what I was putting my puppets through while animating on my previous films. I’m going to miss them. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. There is still a significant amount of work ahead and as I move through post production that feeling will pass but for the last year, animating FILTH was a part of my life, my routine, my thought process … and now it’s over. It’s strange the things we get sentimental about.
There are moments in every production when I freak out a little bit. It usually has to do with destruction. Tearing down a set, making radical changes to a puppet, these would qualify, but this week I’ve been agonizing over my shot selections. Camera placement, how long you hold a shot, the order you edit those shots together etc … all these choices make a huge difference in how an audience reacts to a scene. I know, obvious stuff but as I work through the shots that will appear at the end of the film these choices become even more crucial because I only have one chance to get it right and … well … this has to be the best ending ever.
This is my workbench. It’s been seen in dozens of posts with me working away, making a mess and generally having a time of it. It’s not very big, it’s badly scuffed, a little cluttered, it’s covered in paint, plaster and old foam rubber, there are small pieces of metal embedded in it from all the armatures I’ve built, the battered table top constantly gives me splinters and at night, I swear someone is stealing my 4-40 screws because I’m constantly having to buy new ones. But in spite of all that … actually because of all that … I love this dingy, damp, spider haven, monster centipedes from hell, too hot in the summer and way too cold in the winter corner of my world. Everybody needs a special place.
The order in which scenes were shot on FILTH was anything but arbitrary. One day I may explain exactly why I chose the order that I did but for today let’s talk about the fight. I left this scene until the end because I knew these puppets would take an awful beating and by the end of the fight there would be no chance either of them could handle the scrutiny of a beauty shot … except for the battered beauty of the aftermath. This week my main character dislocated his shoulder. There was no way to fix him from the outside so I had to cut him open (ouch … always tricky) and replace the shoulder joint. He’s recovered now … actually better than before … and the fight goes on.
Stop motion animation requires a bit of stamina, a lot of dexterity and a good deal of flexibility. Problem is I’m not as young as I used to be. My puppets have tie downs. Tie downs are little screws attached to the base of the puppet’s feet and by drilling a hole in the table you can secure your puppet to the set with long screws from underneath to keep them from falling over while shooting (take that gravity) But reaching those holes on such a big set can be a challenge. I know it’s all in service of the film but sometimes, late at night, on the couch after a long night of animating, holy god does my back hurt.
As I approach the end of filming I am now starting the process of assembling a press kit of which this site will be a part of. It is by far the least enjoyable process for me but oh so important if you want to raise the profile of your film. In the end the film itself decides whether it will be popular or not but you have to at least give it a fighting chance.
Like most people I work for a living. I make my films on the side. You could call them a lot of things, a hobby, a habit, an obsession, an addiction. I’ve gone around the block with respect to working in the film industry and now find myself back at the beginning, making films for fun. It’s a really good place to be. Most people make short films as calling cards, a way to showcase their abilities, to get exposure, catch the eye of the industry and the public so they can move up the food chain to bigger things. That was me … a long time ago … but not today and quite likely never again.