They Both Explode now on Vimeo

A year and many festival screenings after its premier at Animated Exeter, my short film They Both Explode is now available for all to see on Vimeo. To see it in lovely HD, click here

The film was made mostly out of card and found objects and shot using a primitive multiplane system made from a desk, some picture-frames and an old pillow case. I used Dragon software and a second hand Lumix FZ50 camera. It was all done ‘in camera’ so there is no compositing or anything; what you see is what the camera saw, lying on the floor, looking up through panes of glass with lights shining down on it.


Annecy 2013 mind dump

It was my first time at Annecy and it was tres bon, magnifique, incroyable, really really good fun and fully knackering. Annecy is astonishingly beautiful and the festival is vast. I’m still amazed that my little film (They Both Explode) was in the official selection. Administative error or not, I fully intend to repeat this slight of hand sometime in the future!

Annecy is a place to consider and reconsider where you fit in the grand scheme of the animation world. It is a place to think big thoughts about impossible things. It is a place, most importantly, to ride pedalos and then dance with new friends ’till the wee small hours. I met innumerable fun and inspiring people and only fell on my arse in front of them once (walking in bowling shoes, slipped in someone’s spilt drink. Full slapstick prat fall. Beer retained. Pro.)

It’s only possible to catch a fraction of the films shown at Annecy but I’ll list a few of my highlights here:

Tito On Ice by Max Andersson & Helena Ahonen

For me Tito on Ice was the surprise highlight of the feature films. A part live action and part animated documentary that defies all explanation. It has a cracking soundtrack with a load of 80s post-punk from the former-Yugoslavia.

But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørnsen & Anna Mantzaris

A friendly but troubling creature enters the life of a man who already finds society extremely worrying. A very pleasing film.


Rabbit and Deer by Péter Vácz

I love it when the animation techniques used in a short film are integral to the plot. This film does that really nicely.


Persistence of Vision by Kevin Schreck

Tragic documentary about Richard Williams’ doomed attempts to create an animated masterpiece. Richard Williams refuses to talk about the film to this day and the old interviews with him make the whole endeavor look like a lesson in dramatic irony.

Not Over by Toru Hayai

This one is very short and already online. I saw Toru Hayai interviewed over breakfast on Saturday morning. At first he just wanted to make some nice landscapes but then later decided that maybe a character would help. I think I can safely confirm that it did.

He summarised his own reading of the story something like this: So often in life we just want to get on with the thing we like to do but somehow the world conspires to make everything into a competition. Ain’t that just the truth.

Other goodies:

Taxandria by Raoul Servais – a lost classic mostly live action 90’s Belgian fantasy film. It was screened in a castle courtyard as the stars came out. Magical.

Wildebeest by Ant Blades – funny internet hit, still makes me laugh

A Flood Story by Maarten Isa – my heart sank when this started with some text saying it was ‘a landscape’, a 17 minute installation designed to be played on a loop in a gallery. My trepidation was misplaced though, somehow it proved constantly engaging on a big cinema screen.

The Event by Julia Pott – The brilliant Julia Pott’s most enigmatic work to date mixing video and animation to visualise a poem by Tom Chivers.

In The Air is Christopher Gray by Felix Massie – A twisted sentimental reflection on the blinding power of young love. Darkly funny.

Room On The Broom by Max Lang & Jan Lachauer – Another hit Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler picture-book adaptation from the makers of the TV versions of The Gruffallo and The Gruffallo’s Child. The performance of the cat steals the show.

Ziegenort by Tomasz Popakul – a strange, discomforting and long short (or perhaps short long) film that drew me into its wobbly-lined 2D/3D mysterious world. Mostly black and white and morally grey.

The Big Beast by Pierre-Luc Granjon – A good fable.


Right, I’m now off to track down some of the films I missed and look-up all the people I met by sifting through my memory and the stack of business cards I amassed. See you next year?

Annecy and other festival news

Annecy 2013 poster

So I’m really very excited, not to mention amazed, that They Both Explode has made it into the ‘official selection’ at Annecy International Animation Festival 10th-15th June. My hotel and train tickets are booked! See you there? Yes.

In other surprise news, the film won the audience vote at the In Motion Animation Festival, Aberdeen and was ‘Highly Commended’ at Animated Exeter.

They Both Explode will have its Italian, South American and North American premiers at the following festivals:

Cortoons, Rome, 17th-21st April

Chilemonos, Chile 8th-11th May

Northwest Animation Festival, Portland Oregon 17-19 May (and Eugene Oregon May 31st-June 2nd)

A brief trip to Animated Exeter

On 22nd Feb I went to Animated Exeter for the first public screening of my short film They Both Explode. I was pleased to bump into fellow animator Linda McCarthy of Tiny Elephants who also had a film showing so at least someone in there knew it was my world premier! The film ran well and warm applause followed. Phew.

The highlight of the little bit of the festival I attended was Helen Brunsdon interviewing stop-frame cinematographer Tristan Oliver who shared many a fascinating film-making tale, praising plywood and Nikon and grumbling convincingly about stereoscopic 3D and the slow demise of matte painting. The dashingly handsome fellow cinematographised many of my favourite animated films including Fantastic Mr Fox, Paranorman, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Wererabbit so hats off to him.


Screening at Flatpack Festival 2013, Birmingham

flatpack logo final

They Both Explode will be screened at Flatpack Festival in Birmingham on Saturday 30 March at 5pm at The Flatpack Palais as part of their Pick n Mix selection.

Flatpack Festival is an enticing mixture film, performance and spinny things and I’m extra happy that my film will be shown there. They’re also showing The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) by Lotte Reiniger to which my little film owes a big debt.

They Both Explode TRAILER

I have finally started submitting my short silhouette film to festivals. Here is the trailer:

[NB Until my Vimeo upload limit resets you can see an HD (720p) version of the trailer by clicking here]

Hopefully some people will agree to show all 2 minutes and 40 seconds of it somewhere near you in the coming year. If you are curating an event at which you might like to show the film then please let me know at matthew[at]mattstep[dot]co[dot]uk and we can sort out viewing/screening copies.