|"The Lucky Dip" filmmakers Maria Manton and Emily Skinner talk the rewards of being independent filmmakers, 3 films everyone should see, and stop motion animation.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
Maria Manton: Seeing projects you have created or supported on the incredible journey of the film process, finally coming to life and seen by an audience. As well as sharing the actual experience of the process. As every production is different, the journey is different each time too.
Emily Skinner: I like the creative freedom of being an independent filmmaker. I like being involved with every aspect of the film from storyboarding, design, puppet and prop building to filming, lighting and sound design.
Which filmmakers inspired you to get behind the lens?
MM: It’s all the story first for me, followed by the treatment, and I am always so attracted to the work of filmmakers with an eye that show us the World in a unique way. So two or three filmmakers especially come to mind. Firstly, Pressburger & Powell, and all their films, but the first I saw was “A Matter of Life & Death” which in the USA I believe was called “Stairway to Heaven”. Then Francis Ford Coppola, and his wonderful film “Rumble Fish”. Neither uses animation in a traditional way but they are so inventive in production design and the use of black & white and color or Technicolor film.
ES: Early memories of Ray Harryhausen films gave me a love of stop-motion animation. As a student I was influenced by Yuri Norstein for his beautiful, atmospheric films created using cut-outs on multiple layers of glass, and Jan Švankmajer for the slightly eerie, other worldly quality he created in his films combining live action and animation.
Could you list three films that all independent film supporters should take the time to see?
MM: See above, as I included two film titles, but I would also add to this list, “Bunny and The Bull”, which is the debut feature of Paul King, and very much a low budget independent British film. But despite this, he tells his story in the most imaginative way using live action with a combination of techniques, and animation. I should also confess too, I worked on this film and designed & directed the stop motion Bull sequence.
ES: “Alma” by Rodrigo Blaas for beautiful storytelling, “Dad’s Dead” by Chris Shepherd for brilliant narration and mix of film and animation techniques, and “The Cat with Hands” by Rob Morgan for its spooky atmosphere and weirdness.
What do you hope the audience comes away with after seeing your film?
MM: Emily, the film’s director, was so clever with the film because it’s both charming and beautiful in its detail and illustrative model style, and yet there is a truth there in the story and most people and children understand that truth. “Don’t always judge a person by their appearance.” You would expect the rabbit to be cute and her friend for life, but once he has used the little girl, he legs it. And it’s the odd-looking skinhead guy, we call “Pin man” who saves the little girl.
ES: I hope they are moved and intrigued by the story and that it makes them think about the characters portrayed. I hope they want to view the film again to take in more of the detail in each shot.
Why did you decide to tell the story of “The Lucky Dip” in stop motion animation as opposed to another animated format?
MM: Firstly because this illustrative stop motion style is very much Emily’s signature style. Equally it’s so charming and appealing, you can tell this type of story without hitting people over the head with it.
ES: I like stop motion because it is creating a ”real” environment that you can actually touch. I like the doll-like nature of the puppets and the fact that there are imperfections.
What was this film’s most difficult scene to shoot?
MM: I don’t remember one scene necessarily being harder than another, but then we enjoyed the making of the film so much. I suppose the “Pier” overhead shot was the most work, as we also had more postproduction on that shot with the rain and sky.
ES: The opening shot, the panoramic view of the sea and seaside town in the background, was a challenge as it was the largest set to build and light and had a complicated rig for the sea moving up and down and also a camera move. It was really important that this shot should turn out well as it sets the scene for the rest of the film.
Were there any other films influenced the creation of “The Lucky Dip?”
MM: I think that is a question for Emily as she wrote the wonderful story.
ES: I have been influenced by the work of Tim Burton, in particular his animated short “Vincent” as I love the melancholic character of it and feeling of nostalgia.