Ozanimate recently caught up with Leo Bridle, a freelance director and animator based in London to discuss his remarkable graduation film Train of Thought who has just been accepted into Annecy Animation Festival. In this interview Leo shares his learning process and experience on the film.
Ozanimate: Hi Leo, first of all congratulations for getting your film into Annecy! How does it feel to have your baby in one of the most prestigious animation festivals in the world?
Leo: Thanks! I’m really excited to have the film in Annecy this year, I’ve been to the festival for the last 3 years and gained a lot of inspiration. It’s going to be great to see my work up on the screen of the Grande Salle!
Ozanimate: Tell us a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school? Have you always been interested in animation?
Leo: I graduated from The Arts University College at Bournemouth last year, but I had been making little films and animations a few years before I started that course. I wouldn’t say that I have always been interested in animation exactly though. At the start I just wanted to make films, and I found that the animation was the best way to make little films which aren’t just people talking on bad camcorders. I realized that if I made little stop motion sets then I basically had all the control of a full movie set – just in miniature.
Ozanimate: How did you come up with the idea for the film, was it a collaborative process?
Leo: Train of Thought was very much a collaborative process. Myself and Ben Thomas came up with the concept in april 2008, and we had to pitch it to the rest of our course. After we passed this selection stage we set about involving a lot of different people from different courses at our university. We had model makers, a costume designer, a cinematographer, actors and a sound designer.
In terms of coming up with the concept for the film, I had been spending a lot of time on trains and also sketching around the time of the pitch. I also really loved a couple of music videos that used a cut out photo technique and I thought that there could be a cool short film that mixed this kind of harsh edged, paper stop motion with the flowing lines of sketchy drawing.
Ozanimate: Where did the idea for the technique of the film come from? Was this particular ‘stop-mo/cut-out’ technique something you have been experimenting with before?
Leo: I had tried a simple version of this technique a few years before, but it was very crude. The specific music videos that we referenced were Guster-“Satellite” by Adam Bizanski and Trenchcoat – “Whatcha Got” by Rogier Wieland. We could see it was a pretty long and involved process, so we thought that it might be a good thing to try whilst in university with all these resources and opportunities for collaboration around us. I’m not sure if Train of Thought (as we made it) would have been commercially viable.
Ozanimate: A great aspect of the short is also the mixture of other techniques used to tell the story; such has stop motion, live action actors, hand drawn animation, green screen, rotoscoping, compositing etc. Was this ‘potpourri’ of techniques a conscious decision from the get-go?
Leo: Yes, absolutely. The narrative of the film actually changed a lot throughout the development of the film, but the mix of techniques was one thing that stayed throughout.
Ozanimate: The result is amazing and it seems like production must have been a long and painstaking process, how did you manage to get through it all?
Leo: Thanks! Well, it was a long process and we spent many days in blacked out rooms cutting out and balancing little paper figures. However, it is strange how people often comment on how long the film must have taken to make. In reality we were making our film alongside students working in traditional drawing and CGI and those projects all took just as long. In fact, I would say that some of the other students worked longer hours than us and finished their films much later. Perhaps because we purposely foregrounded the techniques behind our film it draws attention to the work we put in, whereas the other projects worked extra hard to smooth everything out and remove their ‘fingerprints’, as it were.
Ozanimate: Do you have some advice for students who are currently working on their graduation films?
Leo: I think that working in a group really helped us. Although it is cool to do everything on a film yourself we were able to push our idea to a higher standard than we could have managed otherwise. Being able to collaborate with a sound designer and musicians was also great. I think it can be easy to overlook sound when you are so tied up in the visuals, but it really makes a massive difference to the film.
Ozanimate: What is next for you? Do you have other short films or projects on the horizon?
Leo: I’ve recently moved to London and am now represented by Beakus studio for directing projects. Hopefully I should be working on some new films soon! I am also trying to freelance around other companies to pay the bills in the mean time.
Ozanimate: Thanks a lot and best of luck with your film at Annecy and around the world!
* You can check out Train of thought right here in Australia at the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF).