On Thursday 21st March 2013, the BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Awards took place at Glasgow’s Oran Mor, with Kate Charter and Joseph Atkinson crowned as the overall winners on the night. Taking home the awards for Best Animation and Best New Work, for Kate’s graduate film Hannah and The Moon, the pair took time out to tell Scotcampus about the stress, sweat and screams that went in to making the beautifully serene children’s animation.
You’ve just won the awards for Best Animation and Best New Work at the BAFTAs – how does it feel to have your work recognised at such a high level?
Kate: Quite surreal really; it’s been quite a long time since we finished the work and I always liked it, but to have it recognised like that is a confidence boost. It doesn’t change how I feel about the film, but it’s a seal of approval, like getting an A* in a test!
Joseph: It feels really good to have our work recognised on our home turf. The closer you are to something, the more uncertain you are how an audience or another pair of eyes are viewing it, so to get recognised is a nice affirmation of the work that you’ve done.
Kate, did you ever expect your degree film to be seen by anyone other than your university professors?
K: No. From the start they do talk about taking it to festivals and I hoped that it would do the festival circuit, but straightaway when I finished the film in June it was at the Edinburgh Festival, which is huge. It was like a baptism of fire. It’s kind of inspiring and it makes you think, ‘Well if that was my degree film then maybe I can go further with this…’
What were your roles in the filmmaking process?
K: I wrote it, animated it and directed it, although I had a team to help me with various things like colouring it, because I didn’t start making the film until after Christmas and I needed to hurry things along a bit.
J: I joined Kate after she had done quite a lot of the pre-production and design, and she was getting into a situation where she had a lot of things on her plate that she didn’t have time to do, including casting voice artists and getting the score sorted out, post-production and working out what to do about festivals.
What were you doing before you took on this project Joseph?
J: I took quite an unconventional route, as my undergraduate was in English literature, but that’s really where I found my interest in storytelling and children’s literature. I was also working for the independent radio station Fresh Air, which is an Edinburgh-based student radio company; so I guess the logical combination of those two things was production and storytelling.
What do you think of the opportunities available for budding filmmakers here in Scotland?
K: There seems to be a lot of organisations, like Creative Scotland, who are brilliant and have loads of initiatives and training schemes. Channel 4 are really supportive as well. There are plenty of opportunities out there if people are willing to look for them.
J: Producing is the kind of thing where you just have to jump in; no one’s really going to give you that
on a plate, it’s a very complicated role and you just have to pretend that you’re not afraid of it, until you aren’t afraid of it! Most producers are self-made. I’d say it’s more about keeping your ears open and choosing your projects carefully. Getting a solid group of peers and working with them regularly is way more important than finding someone higher up and getting them to pull you up. Filmmaking is a collaborative art.
Do you think moving to London or perhaps LA is something you’d do in future to further your career?
J: It might have to be. With Scotland I think you can always come back, and it’s important that people do go away, learn, and come back to feed into our industries. It’s healthy in terms of growth.
K: I’m not from Scotland, I’m from Cambridge, and moved to Edinburgh on a romantic notion having only been here once before when I was about thirteen. I absolutely love it, and have stayed put since I graduated last June, so I think I’ll live here for a while! I’d love to live in London for a year or so, to experience it, but I’m really happy in Scotland.
Is children’s animation the only area of film you’re interested in or do you think you’ll branch out a bit more?
K: I love children’s storytelling, so I think I’d like to stay in that area, but I’m really interested in exploring interactivity on tablets and with apps and things like that. I would branch away from animation, but I’m not sure if I’d branch away from the children’s genre at the moment, because it’s so much fun.
J: It just happens to be where I laid my hat for the time being, but the first film I produced was a period piece for Sam Hughes, which was quite dark. I’m just interested in telling good stories; it doesn’t matter what the genre is.
Is there a dream production you’d like to work on?
￼￼￼J: The dream thing is getting a project where you’re so excited and invigorated that you’re happy to get up at 6am and then work until 2am, have four hours sleep, and get up to do it again. It doesn’t matter what the budget is, you just need that feeling, because there’s always going to be a moment when you think everything’s going to implode and the producer has to be the one person in the room who isn’t screaming.
What was the screaming point on Hannah and the Moon?
J: From my side it was when the composer didn’t work out and we had minimal time to write and record the score. I had scored stuff before, and we were at the point where it was me or nothing, so I enlisted the help of my sister who’s a classically trained musician. I grew up pretty punk rock, so I have no discipline at all, and I’m really fortunate to have a sister who’s a multi-instrumentalist. In terms of production, Kate shouldered all the crap!
K: The music was a bit of a tricky point, but before I started animating I was going down a completely different aesthetic, and I had quite a clear idea of how I wanted it. I spent a couple of months storyboarding and finished the story, but when I actually came to making it, it didn’t even look nice! I had to bite the bullet and restart the whole thing, but I’m glad I did, because I think the aesthetic is one of the best parts of the film now.
What are you working on now?
J: I’m working with a Glasgow-based stop motion animation company called Rubber Rocket, doing a lot
of commercial stuff, but developing a lot of shorts and TV series ideas
as well. We’ve just finished working on Bombay Sapphire’s Imagination series, which premieres at Tribeca.
K: Right after the film I went home and spent the summer tractor driving, as some of my family are farmers, because I was like a zombie after putting all my energy into the film for nine months. Then I came back to Edinburgh and now I’m just looking at a few training schemes, a few big studios around the city, and thinking about where I fit in.