Interview: 10 questions
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I studied English Literature at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and later did a Ph.D in English Literature at the University of Kent. Whilst pursuing my interest in literature and more recently new media I have earned a living for the last thirty years working in various administrative jobs. Having completed my Ph.D thesis in 1990 I took up a job as a Practice Manager and spent ten years writing novels in my spare time, but couldn’t get any of them published; so I eventually decided to publish myself online, and having learn HTML to set up my own website (in 2000) I found myself becoming interested in the creative possibilities of new media, and have been exploring these ever since, both as a creative practitioner and a critic. I set up The Hyperliterature Exchange (http://hyperex.co.uk) in 2003 to publicise and review works of digital literature for sale on the Web.
2. When, how and why started you filming?
“Penguin Memories” (http://edwardpicot.com/penguinmemories/index.html)
“Banana Story” (http://edwardpicot.com/bananastoryindex.html) and
These are all derived to a greater or lesser extent from games and stories I have made up jointly with my daughter Rachel, and to a large extent they’ve been created as presents for her, although they’ve all been designed for a wider audience on the Web as well.
3.What kind of subjects have your films?
As stated above, the ideas for my films have largely come while I’ve been playing with my daughter: their subject-matter is therefore the rather surreal imaginary world of a girl aged between five and eight.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
The process of development goes (1) idea, (2) writing (ie. developing the idea into a script), (3) audio track (me reading out the script in different voices), (4) animation.
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
The animations are made, for the time being, with Flash. If they’re drawn then I generally just use the drawing tools in Flash. I don’t have a touch-sensitive drawing-pad like Intuos, although I keep thinking about getting one. If the animations are based on photographs then I do quite a lot of image-editing, usually using a quite basic image-editing tool called PhotoStudio 2000, which is very handy for cropping, adjusting brightness, tilting the image, etc. The audio track is put together using Goldwave and Multiquence.
6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?
Flash is a limiting medium to work in because at the moment it’s quite hard to translate into a video format, which means that you can’t publish it on DVD very easily in a format which people can play in their DVD-players. I had a offer from a small television company (Propeller TV) to broadcast my animations, but this proved to be an insuperable stumbling-block. On the other hand you can easily create small animations and publish them on the Web using Flash, and working in this way it’s possible to build up a small but respectable audience (my website gets about 8000 visits a month now). I expect that the technical differences between Flash and video formats will begin to dissolve in the relatively near future, especially now that Macromedia has been taken over by Adobe. I think a lot of independent animators/short film makers will probably get started via self-publication on the Web from now on.
7. How do you finance your films?
No finance is really necessary, other than web hosting. I got hold of Flash very cheap. I have to buy digital cameras, tripods and things, but nothing that costs more than a couple of hundred pounds.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I’ve always worked as an individual, except for the ideas-stage collaboration with my daughter.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
My biggest influence is the work of British animators Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, who made a series of very do-it-yourself animations for children in the 1960s and 1970s – “Pingwings”, “Ivor the Engine”, “Noggin the Nog”, “Pogle’s Wood” and “Bagpuss”. They tended to make their own models, do their own voices and film things in and around their own homes. This is particularly true of “Pingwings”, and the influence of “Pingwings” is quite evident in “Frog-o-Mighty”, I think.
The small-scale, do-it-yourself, make-it-up-as-you-go-along ethic is very important to me. I used to edit a (very) small poetry magazine back in the 1970s and 1980s, which was inspired by the do-it-yourself ethos of punk music, and the do-it-yourself fanzines which came out of the punk movement.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
It very much depends on what ideas occur to me. I still see myself primarily as a writer, and the projects I’ve got in mind at the moment are mostly literary rather than filmic in nature. But I go where the ideas lead me.