Interview with BAFTA Award Winner Daisy Jacobs

After her success at the BAFTA's, we caught up with Daisy Jacobs to find out more about her process behind her winning animation 'The Bigger Picture', gaining an insight into what influences her as a film-maker and what advice she would give to someone starting out in this industry.

If you would like to submit your film to the festival, don’t forget that our Call for Entries is now open!

Where did the inspiration for the storyline come from?
The story is very loosely based on what happened in my own family when my grandmother became increasingly disabled with Parkinsons Disease – there was a lot of conflict about what care she should have and who should be responsible for the increasing multitude of things that needed to be done. My grandmother was a strong person, of a generation that didn’t like to ask for help – or acknowledge it had been given. When she became almost completely helpless, she insisted everyone should do what they wanted to do –  a lovely sentiment, but one which caused massive problems.

A unique aspect to this film is the combination of both 2D and 3D animation, where did this inspiration come from?
I learned to do 2D hand-drawn character animation on a one-year postgraduate course at Central St Martins, and I used that technique for both Tosh and Don Justino de Neve. After that, I was keen to try something new, so when I was at the National Film and Television School, I thought I would try animating on a much larger scale, using paint. I didn’t do any preparatory sketches or anything; I just found a portacabin and started painting on the walls. I’ve always painted very large and very fast, so it came naturally to animate in the same way. I brought in the 3D element chiefly as a means of showing that the 2D animation was life-size. The papier-mache arms and legs, the real objects,  and the full-size sets give an indication of  scale. Otherwise, it could be hard to tell: the animation looks different but people don’t always realise why –  although there is a scene in The Bigger Picture where people always say ‘Oh, that’s a real television!’.   

It is also impressive that the film was shot using life size models, why did you decide to do so? What were the main challenges you faced?
I used life-size models because I wanted to animate with paint and, as I say, I like to paint very large. The main challenge was physical – reaching up and down, moving all over the set, climbing on and off step-ladders and scaffolding, for ten hours a day, six days a week, for six months.

What where the main challenges you faced during the creative process?
Creatively, the main challenge was the ‘free-flowing’ nature of the animation: I would paint  up to three characters life-size on the wall and animate them ‘straight ahead’ – without using guidelines or pre-drawn frames. Meanwhile Chris would build and animate their 3D arms and legs, also straight ahead. Sometimes, half-way through a sequence, it would all start going horribly wrong, and we would have to save it with masking tape and a lot of smearing. We had to think on our feet and were  constantly problem-solving. It was physically and mentally gruelling. We tried to stick to ten hours a day because, whenever we did more than that, we went a little bit crazy.

What initially attracted you to the form of stop motion animation?
It’s a lot quicker than drawing! Also. my co-animator, Christopher Wilder, can make anything – anything at all – out of a cereal box and a bit of tape. And it’s a lot more fun working on set than scribbling away in a room on your own!

Which artists have influenced your work?
I am less keen on naturalistic styles, I prefer heightened reality. I like the imaginative, considered worlds of Wes Anderson and David Hockney, but I wouldn’t say I was directly influenced by any one person in particular. I would say I am very influenced by colour – I went to a Steiner school for four years, and I think it left its mark!

After the success of The Bigger Picture, do you have another project you are working on? If so, what will you take from previous experiences onto your next work?
The next project is another short, set in the Seventies and the divorce boom of the Eighties. We’ll be using the same life-size, 3D technique, but we’re going to to push it much further – there were lots of things we realised we could do when we were making The Bigger Picture, but it was too late to incorporate them.

Is there any advice you would give to young film-makers?
Try to develop your own style – be shamelessly individual. And make sure you have a good story: animating a poor story is like polishing a turd. 

Find out more about the film here: http://www.thebiggerpicturefilm.com/

 

CALL FOR ENTRIES!

Reminder that our call for entries is now open!

Early Deadline 31 March 2015 – for works completed in 2014
Final Deadline 5 June 2015 – for works completed in 2015

Short films and animations of any genre (fiction, documentary, experimental, music video) under 30 minutes are eligible. Encounters festival does not have a premiere policy.

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Full entry guidelines and online submission at www.encounters-festival.org.uk/call-to-submit/