Christopher Anderson and Ryan Dempsey from the “No Eyed Theatre” (and in their 3rd-year study of BA in Animation) came to deliver a guest lecture to the 1st-year BA students in Animation on 7 December. I came across to their work “Constance” in a university’s press release. I was very much intrigued by Constance’s unique style. I then got in touch to see if they could share their success story with the 1st-year, particularly on how they made “Constance”, how they managed the project and overcame all the problems, and how they distributed and promoted their work (and eventually decided to have a mask and costume shop). I thought their project would nicely illustrate the lifecycle of an animation project throughout pre-production (brainstorming, coming up with ideas, writing scripts, creating storyboard), production (creating characters and environments, filming), post-production (editing, releasing, promoting and marketing).
Chris and Ryan arrived in the classroom with the mannequins, costumes, masks they made for “Constance”. The whole classroom immediately became theatrical. We screened “Constance” first. Then Chris and Ryan gave a lecture on why and how they made the film, challenges faced and the current projects they are working on.
Since Christ and Ryan have worked together well in their 1st and 2nd year, they decided they would expand what they’ve created for some course work (some animated creatures with special effects) and make a short film.
After coming up with a story, here came the challenging part – production – which included making masks and costumes and filming. Time was the most critical element in the whole project. They were constantly fighting against deadlines. They only had 5 weeks to make masks and costumes, and not to mention that masks needed to be dried up within those 5 weeks. When filming, they had the camera (which was borrowed) only for one day, so the filming needed to be done with 24 hours. It was very exhausting 24 hours.
All the details in an animation needed attention. Take the background for example. The green screen offered at the university was not large enough, so they need to buy new one.
They also needed to make sure all editing software work – Photoshop, motion, final cut, etc.
But the trust between the two of them, and support from family and friends finally brought them to the end of the project, and all the hard work paid off.
At the end of the session, I asked the students audience to share their thoughts on “Constance”. Although the style was not everyone’s cup of tea, they all said it was a unique and creative piece. Some said that it’s interesting that there was only narration (no dialogues between characters), and others were intrigued by the way it was made, mixing different elements in an animation, including real people acting, mannequins, and animated characters. One commented that it has potential winning many awards in international competitions.
And indeed, “Constance” has attracted much attention at Mossley festival, and Chris and Ryan have started their own enterprise “No Eyed Theatre” focusing on design, animation film-making and provision of masks and costumes for any event, production or special occasion. I believe their work and experience were inspiring and encouraging. Chris and Ryan are good examples of how creative and clever Salford students are. Thank you Chris and Ryan for sharing your story with us.