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One Split Second by Ben Chambers

on Tuesday, 24 September 2013. Posted in Hush Hush Film Night Artists Interviews


What was the inspiration behind One Split Second?

I've always been fascinated by monumental science fiction scenes, such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the city of Midgar from Final Fantasy 7 and the Star Wars trilogy to name a few. What interests me about these scenes is the sheer industrial mass shown before me, that a City can literally swallow its inhabitants, eventually absorbing them into its mass. I'd say
for One Split Second, I had the setting before I had anything else, the storytelling and characters were something developed afterwards.

The work that drew me to animation as a form of storytelling, and one of my biggest influences to date is *Mourer Aupres de Toi (2011)*, a stop motion short film by Spike Jonze. The story takes place in a bookshop after the shopkeeper has closed for the night and follows the journey of a skeletal Macbeth. He becomes infatuated with Mina, seducing him from her bed within the Dracula horror novel. What transpires is a tale of lust, heroism and tragedy, which might also be described as a rather humorous take on a love story.

Another monumental influence of my style of storytelling is the 2004 BAFTA award winning short JoJo In The Stars by Mark Craste. What makes JoJo so compelling in a sense is the ever so small gestures the characters make. From robotic eyes widening in glee, to wings being slumped in sorrow. What JoJo achieves is a sense of longing: the audience longs for the protagonists to break free of the bleak world that’s tried ever so fiendishly tried to destroy them.

Another influence of mine is Wall-E by Andrew Stanton, “Wall-E” explores many similar ideas to what I am currently exploring in my own work. As such it was especially useful in working out how best to convey loneliness. Set in 2805, earth becomes covered in   garbage and Wall-E robots are left behind to clean the planet. These robots eventually break down until one of them grows sentient. Later in the story, another robot, Eve, is deployed on the planet. Initially hostile toward Wall-E, Eve softens over time, eventually
falling in love with him uniting on a renewed Earth.

What I find so compelling about this film is the journey of the robot we bond with. It doesn’t just feel like we are watching Wall-E, but on this solemn journey with him ourselves. This is indeed a sensation which I strive to achieve in my own work.

What inspired you to mix live action and animation?

I wanted *One Split Second* to be a collage of traditional and non-traditional animation techniques. The majority is filmed in stop motion; as for the aesthetic and storytelling I wanted to achieve I felt this was the natural choice, as it allowed complete freedom in conveying how Cogs was feeling. In addition to this I really wanted to push myself in other boundaries, such as 3D modelling and animation. As well as working with particle effects and other computer generated imagery. Lighting was also very important for setting the aesthetic, lighting has the ability to make or break a shot. This was crucial in setting the overall tone of the film.

What are the challenges of stop motion animation?

As with any traditional form of animation stop motion is very laborious, you can spend a whole day on a scene, only for it to need re shooting. Unlike other art forms the reward comes after the process. It's definitely a format you have to commit to. If the commitment's wavering, work on something else for a while, then come back to it.  This leads me onto the second biggest challenge. Like any of the arts, animators can fall victim to creative block, I've had times where I've spent days in contemplation, frustrated. What’s beautiful about animation as a medium is the freedom in storytelling it allows. Your ideas are liberated from the shackles of plausibility, the glass ceiling smashed for your creativity to fly free. It is a medium where the outlandish and far-fetched are embraced, this is a medium where I can tell my story, exactly in my way.

How did you source some of the materials for the set?

The materials were sourced all around Leeds. The place I found myself getting the most materials was the scrap store on Kirkstall Road, I got all manner of items there very cheaply. Gathering materials was the hard part, putting them together was surprisingly easy.

Were the sets handmade?

They certainly were! Building the sets was probably the most rewarding part of the film. The part I most particularly enjoyed was building Cog's apartment. It felt great breathing personality into the character through his surroundings.

What's next for you?

This is a tricky one, there are so many things I want to commit to. Firstly I want to maybe collaborate with someone on a new project, maybe a film, maybe something completely different. It's just a matter of finding someone who ticks in the same way as myself.  Another thing I'm keen to try is App Development, I dont have a clue with regard to programming but I see this as part of the fun, maybe I can find someone to work on this with me too. At the moment though I'm just sketching away, waiting for that next big idea to come through. Without a doubt, I want to make my next film feel like a progression, and not just another film, so it's just a case of waiting until I come across something I can take a risk on.

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