For all the polish my films my exhibit, much of their execution remains surprisingly low tech. I build my sets with floating walls to allow my camera to access hard to reach areas. With this set, the removal of the side wall also meant the loss of all that nice interactive light provided by the windows. To maintain continuity, using nothing more than some cardboard, 4 popsicle sticks and 2 pieces of dowel I was able to quickly put a temporary structure in place and was back shooting in less than an hour. It doesn’t look like much but you’d never know it from the finished shots. It’s easy to get sidetracked employing complicated solutions to simple problems. I love my technology but sometimes basic is better.
Working alone, one of the hardest things to maintain is a high standard of quality. As the weeks and months start to drag on you can sometimes find yourself letting things slide. Before I sign off on any shot I always asked myself; is that the best that shot can be or is it only as good as it needs to be. I strive for the former but there have been days when I’ve settled for the latter. Those days always come back to haunt me. There are half a dozen shots in FILTH that to this day I cringe when I see. I’ve done better on FROM HELL HE RIDES but it doesn’t come easy. I’m usually a first take animator but twice in the last week I’ve done 4 takes of a shot. It has reduced my shot totals for the week to be sure but a year from now I won’t be shaking my head thinking I should’ve shot that again.
I don’t take many breaks. I have this ridiculous fear that if I stop working I won’t start again. Or worse, I’ll forget how to do this altogether. It’s not likely to happen any time soon and besides, I’ve always felt that a little fear is never a bad thing. When I find myself in a bit of a rut there’s always music. It plays an enormous part in all of this. It gets me through those stretches when I’m not feeling particularly motivated. I don’t plan it but each film ends up having it own unique playlist. Even years later when I hear a song I will be instantly transported to a time, a place and a film.
My films have their own style. It’s somewhat distinct and it slowly evolves from film to film but when I look at all the stop motion being done out there it seems like there’s very little that looks like what I’m doing. I’m not saying it’s better, far from it; it’s just something I’ve noticed. This particular look is not something I planned. In fact, at times I’ve consciously tried to move in a different direction but every time I start sculpting my brain steers me back down this road. Muscle memory. One of the best things about short films is the opportunity to reinvent yourself with each project and while I may be jumping genres every two years, I cannot deny that a visual stamp follows me wherever I go.