Commute of the Crow
It's 9:00am on a dreary Monday morning: London is packed with traffic jams, ambling pedestrians and disgruntled taxi drivers. Will Mr Crowe make it to work on time?
Commute of the Crow was my first attempt at creating an animated short using 2D stop motion techniques. I created it on my bedroom floor using 225 paper cut-outs, 22 mixed-media backgrounds and shot the frames on a wonky rostrum! From concept to completion, the animation took 4 months to make.
"Standing Here" by Silent Partner
Commute of the Crow began life as a paper collage that I made, inspired by the works of Gary Russell. I often found myself imagining the scene in motion: Cars whizzing around on roads that looped around skyscrapers, the Crow's outline etched against the over-sized, monochromatic sun, an atmosphere thick with smog from the bustling traffic...
At this point in my life, I was not an Animator or film-maker of any kind. But as my now-husband pointed out to me on a regular basis: "The work you're producing looks more like parts of a story, rather an Illustrations. Why don't you try and make a film instead?"
Taking his advice, I bought a small Rostrum and decided to use the collage as a starting point for a little stop-motion film. The plot was going to be simple: Mr Crowe was late for work and had to get to get there as quickly as possible.
As a beginner, the point of the film was to get a character up and moving about, so I chose to stick with 2D cut-outs of photographs to create the characters, vehicles and interactive objects.
These puppets were so small that rather than have articulated limbs, I had to make multiple versions of each character and swap them in and out of the scene when needed. Although it restricted the amount of animation that I could do with each character, it was a lot of fun to see how much personality you can give something with just a few little well-timed wiggles.
Production & Aftermath
The look of the film came directly from the original collage that I made, but also from black and white photography of London and images from old newspapers. I always pictured the scenes having this gritty, jittery look to them, reminiscent of classic black and white movies and early animations. But I didn't realise until I started photographing the first scenes that I could create the effect by not properly lighting my animation space...
Apart from knowing where the film would start and where it needed to end, I didn't have a clear storyboard to follow. Not only did this approach make the idea of film-making less intimidating, it allowed me to focus more on creating amusing modes of travel for Mr Crowe in each scene.
Although no where near perfect from a technical stand-point, I was satisfied with my efforts and felt I had created something with a spontaneous vibe that had captured my sense of humour!
Commute of the Crow was selected as a finalist for a young British Filmmaker's competition hosted by the BFI and Talenthouse in October 2014, where it premiered at the Prince Charles Cinema. The following year, it was also included in the BFI Future Film Festival and the Barbican Focus Film Festival.
In 2016, Commute of the Crow was invited to make an appearance at the Blackburn Open Walls Street Art Festival. It was included in the 3-day Exhibition space, where it was played - on a vintage television set - alongside the work of other Artists. I created a set of limited edition prints for the display, along with some paper-puppet pals for visitors:
Animator | Director | Multimedia Artist