Having worked in the art department on some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, includes Pirates Of The Caribbean, The Hunger Games and a host of Tim Burton films, Dawn Brown has now hit the web with her very own directorial project – a stop motion horror-comedy animation series starring Christopher Lloyd (pictured), called ‘House Of Monsters’.
With stop motion continuing to attract a devoted following, and her own quirky creation just the latest to showcase its charms, here – in her own words – Dawn reveals seven fascinating things she has learned in her filmmaking career so far.
1. CGI is here to stay – but people have a special attachment to the real
“When it comes to life, stop-motion is something really beautiful and magical. It’s hand made. It’s REAL. And there is absolutely no denying that the amount of work required involves a lot of love and passion. You can see it and feel it on the screen.”
2. Patience is a virtue
“It is a painstaking process. I’m working from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I crawl into bed.
“A typical day might be 15 hours or so. The day’s work depends on what stage of production we are in. I might be sewing costumes, making props or building sets one day, and animating a scene the next. Each day was so fun, it seemed to go by in a blink!
“It took about 14 months to make two episodes. We built 7 sets, 31 puppets, and shot 14 minutes of animation. The majority of work was done by just two people.”
3. Stop-motion is perfect for comedy-horror
“Stop motion is a series of still images stitched together, giving the illusion of life and movement. But it is in fact, NOT alive. Nothing is moving. There is a beautiful creepiness about that.”
4. Hollywood sets can be a surreal experience
“A few years ago I was in Hawaii working on a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Specifically, I was working on the re-design of the pirate ship. We converted Jack Sparrow’s ship the Black Pearl into Blackbeard’s ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge.
“It’s easy to get swallowed up in work. Days were clicking by, nose to the grindstone. And one day I specifically had a quiet moment of clarity when it hit me that I was on a freaking pirate ship in the pacific ocean. I climbed up to the very top deck and watched the ocean meet the horizon. It was absolutely incredible.”
5. Tim Burton is probably the best person you could hope to learn from
“His vision is so stylized. It is an extra treat for us in the art department. We get to design a lot of really cool and fun stuff!
“His films have always been a lot of fun. His style is so iconic, there is a challenge to deliver what the audience expects to see and yet we have to keep things fresh and innovative. You have to keep moving, keep pushing new ideas.”
6. All great directors are craftsmen at heart
“Having worked with JJ Abrams, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg, I would say that while they execute their passion for cinematic storytelling in different ways, all three of them are keenly aware of using picture, sound, music, digital effects, in-camera effects, editing, and all the crafts come together to serve the story.
“They are complete craftsmen.”
7. If you can put Christopher Lloyd in your project – put Christopher Lloyd in your project!
“For House Of Monsters we always wanted to bring on a character who would serve as a guide or narrator through the monster adventures. Christopher Lloyd was our first choice.
“We knew he would be perfect. We put together a pitch package, which included the script and concept artwork and presented it to his agent. He was absolutely wonderful to work with. He knocked it out of the park.”