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El Patron (The Story of Pablo Escobar) - William Child

on Thursday, 16 May 2013.

el patron william child

Tell us about your background, what path lead you to filmmaking?

Last year I graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Graphic Design, having focused on image making and illustration. For my final project I decided to use papier mache puppets to tell the story of Pablo Escobar in an illustrated book, and also create a short  animation showing the route his cocaine took into America. The Escobar film was my first time working with film.

What inspired you to create a film about Pablo Escobar?

I am a big fan of action & crime films & documentaries so I guess I just wanted to make my own lo-fi ridiculous little version. I'd heard little bits about Escobar's story before, so I looked into it and there was so much mad stuff to work with I just ran with it. 

Could you tell us a little about the research that went into making this film?

In terms of the models & scenery I've always loved the models of Aardman and Mackinnon & Saunders from when I was a kid, and I used to love stuff like Thunderbirds which was a big inspiration. But the biggest inspiration was probably Team America; the way they work with miniatures & the lo-fi style but still get incredible detail was really what I wanted to achieve in my project too. Other than that, films like Blow, Layer Cake, American Gangster as well as books & documentaries about Escobar's life were really important too.

Is there any particular message that you’re trying to convey to the viewers?

No, not particularly. The puppets and their contrast with the serious voiceover and ridiculousness of them doing all these drugs deals & stuff exploding is just meant to semi-parody the life of Escobar. Because he himself was so eccentric it seemed right to show his life in a bit of a bizarre way. If you read his story you'll know what I mean!

What was the creative process that you used to make the models?

I'd illustrated a book in a similar way in my previous year at university, showing the social diversity of Barcelona in 'The Peoplewatcher's Guide to Barcelona', so I'd had a bit of practice making the models and scenery then. From then it was just a job of researching & taking inspiration from the things I mentioned before, trying to build pretty accurate & atmospheric sets, and trying to give the puppets as much character as possible.

Did any problems occur during this process and as well as with project in general?

Making custom clothes can be pretty tricky, and generally just the time it takes to make everything. The puppets are pretty limited in terms of movements which can be difficult sometimes, but to be honest thats how I wanted it to look. Concocting a recipe for a controlled explosion took a while but we got there! 

Why did you choose to use a mix of actors and animation?

The voiceover was by Kevin Parr, a Scotland-based impressionist. I wanted a borderline-corny American narrator to describe the journey, and Kevin did a brilliant job. He also did the voice for the two news reporters in the car chase scene, which he nailed again! I think his main point of reference for that was Arnie Pye, the eye in the sky from The Simpsons. Kevin brought life to the characters wonderfully.

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

Well I haven't worked on many so I'm still in the early stages of learning myself, but I'd say plan well in every element of putting the film together, research meticulously, and make sure you've got plenty of time on your hands! Get help from people in the know if possible and collaborate with others!

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