In mid-December I attended the Two Short Nights Film Festival at the Exeter Phoenix. One of the films showing on the night of bursary co-funded films was Richard Gosling‘s Baby Bird.
Babybird is the story of eight-year-old Arthur and his attempt to nurture an abandoned egg he discovers. The film uses a mixture of live action and animation to tell the story.
I was taken aback by the film, which deservedly won the best bursary film at the festival, among some great competition. The direction -and casting -of the young cast was spot on, and the team that worked on the film created some awesome animation. I endeavoured to find out more about the filmmaker and share any pointers for future filmmakers.
This is what Richard had to say when I caught up with him early jan 2015:
What inspired you to get into filmmaking?
I’d always be a big film fan, but making films seemed a bit out of my league. Sticking with drawing I saw myself as becoming an illustrator of some sort, then maybe an animator, then my interests branched out into photography, writing and also making music.
Finally, I got frustrated with each path and realised I needed to combine all this work which naturally lead me to filmmaking. It was during my Animation Degree at the Arts University Bournemouth that I ingratiated myself with the filmmakers and got the opportunity to go along on shoots. Something clicked and it all seemed ‘do-able’. After graduation I returned to Plymouth with the aim of making a live action short film, and set about finding people to help me.
What has been your most rewarding film as director so far?
Though I am very proud of my grad film Tiger is Gun which won the RTS award, Baby Bird was a gratifying shoot to be involved in. It’s the first time I began to explore a long-held vision of combining live action, animation and music in a particular way.
How did Babybird come together?
Part of making film is networking and finding people to work with, which lead me to Exeter and the Phoenix. It was there that I was brought into the fold by the community there and made aware of their bursary.
My first live action short was continuing to be a struggle, which knocked my confidence, but I somehow convinced myself to pitch for the bursary. I had several ideas, but wanted to go for something with a lighter touch, that used simple shots, minimal dialogue and utilised the edit and animation to truly construct the film (so pretty much the opposite of my first live action short). Baby Bird as a concept suited my remit. Though intended to be quite whimsical and written to be logistically achievable, the story itself stitches together a lot of childhood experiences and ended up being quite personal.
What next for Babybird following its award at the Two Short Night film festival?
Baby Bird had such a good response from people at the festival it has encouraged me to pursue submitting the film to more festivals and really push Baby Bird out there.
What future film projects can we look forward to?
I’m planning to make more shorts, hopefully in collaboration with others, so I may just be writer on some films. I still have another passion project as writer and director, a short called Animal Mask that I want to get funding for. I have also joined a Plymouth-based collective called Coco Beam, who I will be collaborating with in developing a script for their first feature, a serial killer thriller from a unique and fresh angle, which we will then be seeking to finance.
Do you have any advice for aspiring film makers out there?
Well, it depends what kind of filmmaker you want to be. Personally, my identity and the life I’ve lead informs my vision and shapes my work, regardless of commercial interests. The element I find distinctive about making films is the social/networking aspect, which is something I have had to develop. Networking seems to be the best way to meet collaborators, and get professional work as well. It becomes a process of experimentation where you are trying to find the right people to work with on the right projects. So, in summation, have your own vision (however weird it is), network (in a reasonable fashion) and as my mother would say ‘love many, trust a few, always paddle your own canoe’.
Thanks Richard and good luck in your future film projects.