Synopsis: An elderly woman reminisces about her life before and after World War II in animated fashion.
What inspired the film?
I grew up surrounded by the elderly ladies who were regular clients in my grandmother’s hairdressing salon. I helped out in the shop until I went to university. I was very intrigued by the everyday wisdom I encountered from their conversations. From this, the dialect of northwest England became a recurrent point of interest in my student films and was expressed through the use of real dialog.
Lyn Schofield was one of my favorite customers who would burst through the door every Tuesday exclaiming “I’m here” in a tuneful announcement with a giant smile on her face.
Lyn is a wonderful storyteller and has a vivid and humorous memory of her past but her main trait is that no matter what, she accepts life and enjoys it to the full. After my grandmother passed away, Lyn would come in to get her hair done and tell stories about my Nan and what it was like to grow up in the 40’s. Several of my student films, Britain, Betty’s and Ever Hear a Postman Whistle, feature Lyn in conversation with my grandfather.
For my graduation film at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), I chose to take a more narrative approach and tell Lyn’s full life story, Mend and Make Do. I wanted to make a film which would inspire others to enjoy life no matter how dark things can be. The film would be set in the 1940’s/50’s as I adore those eras and all the mundane objects and fashions that were in place during that time.
The credits indicated that the dialogue in the film was unscripted. Can you tell us how did this come about? Was the film based around the dialogue or vice versa?
Dialog was the foundation for the film. I worked closely with the lovely writer Stefan Kaday who wrote a long list of questions to ask Lyn beforehand so we knew we could achieve an emotional arc within the film. The film came about after recording a 3 hour conversation with Lyn. When I returned with Lyn’s dialog, we sat down with Pawel Slawek, our editor, and carefully selected the information we would use. It was very important to us that we didn’t over edit Lyn’s voice as we believed her laughs, pauses and unexpected sounds were characteristic of her personality.
The film is a mix of live action and animation. Was that always the plan or was it going to be one or other at some point?
We wanted a way of differentiating the present from the past so we decided that present day would be a live-action conversation taking place in a mockup of Lyn’s real living room. But as she talks about the past, the animated magic would begin and the design of the room would be brighter and bolder. However, the shadows in the film are live action too, to reflect the idea that Vince’s shadow is a very raw and real memory that doesn’t age and is Lyn’s constant companion.
What do you hope to be working on in a year from now?
I would love to direct some commercials or a TV series. I am also very interested in making more informative films and perhaps help charities with my work. I aspire to make animated films which have a tangible, handcrafted, textural quality. They should stay close to the truth, raise public awareness, be entertaining, informative, full of playful ideas and a bit controversial, but also show the comedic side of life.
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