‘New Visions Film’ showcases the cream of emerging student filmmaking talent from Bristol UWE, National Film and Television School and Royal College of Art. Co-curated by Show Me The Animation and Joseph Wallace, this programme runs evenings throughout the festival in a pop-up cinema at the Tobacco Factory Theatre and is FREE to attend. We had a chat with emerging stop-motion filmmaker, Roos Mattaar, whose short film ‘Moonbird’ has been selected for the programme.
Why stop-motion? Who or what are your key influences?
I started being interested in live action film and when I made my first efforts in filmmaking as a teenager I was heavily inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy that had just been made. I loved to watch the extras and see how so many different crafts and technology as well as storytelling and music were all combined so perfectly. I discovered the Dark Crystal, where everything on screen was created for the movie and it blew my mind. I always wrote stories as a kid and loved fantasy worlds, but full size fantasy sets did not fit in my bedroom.
Somehow I learned about stop motion and got familiar with films such as The Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride, and then Coraline was in the making. Most people around me were watching in terror seeing the amount of work and painstaking processes. For me it was the opposite; this was amazing and I knew I wanted to be involved with this. I started building sets in my bedroom from anything I could lay my hands on and via the internet found stopmotionanimation.com, a great online community where I learned a lot from the great people sharing knowledge there. When I finally could leave school behind I came straight to Bristol to study animation at UWE.
The RTS award for ‘Moonbird’ is a great achievement. What would your advice be to other emerging stop-motion filmmakers?
Thank you. It is always great and encouraging to have any sort of appreciation for your work. Especially from those who have made many successes and have lots of experience in the film industry which I am just beginning to explore. Stop motion is a craft form that involves a lot of different skills. It is good to decide if you are more interested in model making or animating, or storytelling, or designing or if you really as mad as me and want to do it all. In that case there is a lot to learn. The best advice I can give I think is to be really pro-active in learning new skills. Don’ t be scared to try out new materials and processes and to ask questions to people with more experience. For Moonbird I took on board all feedback and suggestions I received to improve the story. I sat down with technical staff to work out a way to quickly build a motion rig, had all their help in learning metal working processes when building the armature and help with woodwork when building the attic set, etc. It is not a matter of finding someone to tell you how to make a puppet or how to make a great film. You need to know what you want, research, try, fail, try again, discover, test, fail, try again, think of new solutions, work under time pressure, ask help, use critique and enjoy all that. It needs to be something you really really want to do and you must enjoy the process more than anything.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Not an easy question, as I don’t even know where I will be in a few months or even weeks at the moment! But I’d like to see myself working on many more interesting projects with interesting people. Whether it is something as part of a big studio or a small scale collaboration. I hope I will have made a few more short films myself by then and perhaps working on something a bit bigger… But ten years seems a lot right now, there is so much that could happen and unexpected things to find on my path. I would definitely like to make more films after Moonbird, so that is something to work towards. But there is also much more to learn about all aspects of stop motion, filmmaking, storytelling, model making, and I hope to get the chance to work with many talented people and keep learning from and sharing this amazing art form.
Interview by Emma Windsor
‘Moonbird’ will be shown in the ‘Time and Space’ collection on Tues 01 Sept at 7pm. The New Visions Film Programme continues all this week until Sat 05 Sept in the pop-up cinema at the Tobacco Factory Theatre. No reservations are required and entry is FREE. To see the full film schedule, visit the Bristol Festival of Puppetry website.