I have always enjoyed watching 'Making Of' films and when ArthurCox asked me to go behind the scenes of 8 minutes idle and A Time Traveller's Guide to Bristol, I discovered that I enjoy making them as well. Electric Shadow Company hired me to create two films looking at the making of their feature The Fold, one focusing on the music and one exploring the film as a whole. This led to the Bristol Film Office asking me to create a promotional film about filmmaking in Bristol in the hopes it would bring more creative work like that to the city. Through all of this, I have become a 'one-man-band' (or one-woman-band to be more accurate) documentary filmmaker: interviewing, shooting, sound recording, editing, and grading all of the films myself.
Nina Needs To Go is an animated series that I produced at ArthurCox for Disney Junior, which comprised of ten 2.5minute episodes that premiered in the US in January 2014. I worked closely with both the London and Los Angeles Disney teams and oversaw the production that was based in Bristol. You can watch all ten full episodes on Disney Junior: disneyjunior.com/nina-needs-to-go.
Looking Forward to Yesterday is about a man who experiences his life - and love - in reverse. Each day he wakes up to the day before, while the love of his life wakes up to the day after. On the day that they 'meet', she is looking forward to all of the tomorrows they might have together, while he knows that all he has to look forward to is a lifetime of yesterdays without her.
The idea for Looking Forward to Yesterday came to me as I was thinking about how much our relationships with other people are based in shared experiences and, always having a nerdy interest in time travel, wondered what would happen if two people were travelling through time in opposite directions. I co-wrote and co-directed the film with my fellow student Nick Wilding on a budget of under £100 with support from the University of Bristol. It premiered in New York City at Rooftop Films Festival in 2011 and is currently being distributed online by IndieFlix.
ArthurCox is a small but mighty production company located at Spike Island in Bristol where I spent four years of my life working as the main producer and studio manager. They have many awards on their shelves (including a BAFTA) and produce mainly animated work in the form of commercials and short films but also archive projects and live-action features. You can see a selection of my work on their website: worldofarthurcox.com
During my time at ArthurCox, I worked closely with the Aardman commercials department, acting as the line producer and/or production manager on projects for the BBC, DDB, Unilever, Durrell Wildlife Conservation, Anti-Slavery International, and The Humane Society. I also produced content for Made Visual Studio, The Gate, Home, and Wildseed Studios and have worked with celebrities such as Terry Jones, Stephen Fry and Alistair McGowan.
Being one of the only Americans around, I voiced many an animatic along the way and even made it into a couple of the final films - see if you can spot me as a stop-motion pig, an annoying girl at a museum or a map-obsessed zoo worker.
For one year, between September 2012 and September 2013, I filmed one moment every day to create a collection of 365 videos that represented 365 of my days. I then spent the following year editing this footage into monthly montages - each shot is equivalent to one day and all sound is original to the situation in which it was filmed. The result is a series of collages, gathering up small moments of my life into "monthly meditations".
As one viewer said, "We somehow came to know this character, persona, that is you, concocted through flashes of light and sound. Yet these collage portraits/landscapes speak to something more universal. They are constellations of images, atmospheres, that force the viewer to look back at themselves and the little moments of their day it is so easy to look over."
A Liar's Autobiography is an animated feature film that contains 17 different animation styles produced by 14 different production companies, all presented in spectacular stereoscopic 3D (why not eh?). ArthurCox contributed five sections to the film: three directed by Matthew Walker, two directed by George Sander-Jackson and I produced all five, working closely with the incomparable Justin Weyers at Made Visual Studios who was producing all of the animation across the 14 companies.
The film follows Graham Chapman from babe to Python and we got to focus on him coming out to his friends and fellow Pythons at a 'Coming Out Party', going to LA where he becomes very drunk indeed and undergoing an intense drying out period as he attempts to beat his alcoholism. Graham is played by himself, despite being dead (the producers used audio recordings of him reading his 'autobiography' aloud in the 80s), and John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones all reunited to voice themselves and various other characters in the film.
8 minutes idle is ArthurCox's first feature film, directed by Mark Simon Hewis and produced by Sarah Cox. It was part of the first iFeatures funding scheme conducted by Creative England and was released in cinemas across the UK in February 2014.
I wore various hats over the long period it took to get this film from script to cinema: production managing the pick-up shoot, managing the pre- and post- production periods from the ArthurCox studio, collating deliverables, and assisting on the Kickstarter campaign that successfully raised £21,577 for a theatrical release after the film's distributer went bankrupt. I even have a cameo (you can see me if you squint).
A Time Traveller's Guide is a multi-platform digital archive project produced by ArthurCox in collaboration with the BBC, Bristol City Council with funding from Southwest Screen. It looks at the evolution of seven locations in Bristol over the last 100 years by gathering archive footage shot in each location and presenting this footage both as an edited film and also in decade by decade clips. The film footage was collected from the BBC, various archives and also from the public via city-wide callouts to find old films hiding in attics and in the back of closets.
I helped with research on the original project and then produced the Bristol Zoo location, which was added over a year later in celebration of the Zoo's 175th birthday. For this segment, when we did a call out to the community for film footage, we received 25 separate contributions from every decade between 1930 and 2010. We had an event where everyone came in and together we watched all of the footage and encouraged the contributors to talk about their film when it came up; some of them had never seen their film before, as often they had inherited the film from their parents and couldn't watch it without a projector. We then used some of these audio recordings as narration on the final film.
The whole project can be accessed at www.atimetravellersguide.co.uk.
I took my first interesting photograph in Mexico when I was 17 of the ruins at Mitla and from thereon out I was hooked. I am rarely seen without a camera in hand while travelling now and am known as that annoying travel companion who is constantly stopping to take pictures of what people often see as innocuous objects or scenes. If I go travelling with my brother, who is also a photographer, it takes us twice as long to get from point A to point Z but we have some great photographs of points B through Y by the end of it.
Over the years I have won several photography competitions and even had my photographs published in an obscure Italian novel. I have also worked with LA Photo Party in New York City and as a freelance photographer for parties, events, shows and one wedding. During 2011 and 2012 I undertook a challenge with my brother to take a picture every day for a year in what we would dub the '365 days / 365 photos' project. We compiled the best of these photographs in a self-published book and I also turned them into a video project that can be seen on my Vimeo page.
I proposed Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock to Studiospace, the Bristol University Drama Department's student-run production company, for the mainstage slot that only opened up once a year to a final year student director. As I was entering my final year, it was my one chance at university to direct a show on that scale and from the five production ideas that were pitched, they went for mine. It was performed in the Wickham Theatre, a professional performance space that is wonderfully versatile and allowed us to stage the production in a traverse layout, with audience on two sides of the actors. I wanted to be clear in our approach to the play that we were a troupe of university students performing a play from the 1930s, so the mechanics of the theatre were not hidden and the actors never left the stage but stood on the sidelines upon exiting to watch the action onstage. This was in 2010, just as the news was telling us that the 'credit crunch' may be turning into a 'recession' and so the production weaved in these modern topics into the design and concept of the play.
The Cradle Will Rock is a play about unions, it is a play about capitalism and, most importantly, it is a play about the prostitution of the mind, body and soul. It takes place in Steel Town, USA, and follows Moll, a prostitute in the traditional sense of the word, who is taken to jail along with the Liberty Committee, a conglomeration of prominent town figures who have joined the man who “owns steel and everything else”: Mr. Mister. The play was first produced under the umbrella of the Federal Theatre Project (FTP) during the Great Depression and as Hallie Flanagan, the head of the FTP, put it, Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock is not just “a play set to music, but a music-plus-play equaling something new and better than either.”
One summer, a 1980s Lego Spaceman showed up and accompanied me on a road trip around the USA. He asked me if I would memorialise his adventures in a classic holiday photo album....so I did.
Theatre and film is what I do. It's what I do for work and generally what I do with my spare time involves some aspects of either film or theatre. Whether it's directing a play at university between essay deadlines, shooting a time-lapse out the window of a train, designing a poster for a friend's shows, or just filming something beautiful and editing the footage into something quiet and slow. Even when I'm reading a book about, say, economics, my mind is constantly trying to connect the dots between the information I'm gleaning from its pages and how I can bring this knowledge to the stage or screen in a meaningful way.