Last May 2013, Norwich Castle Museum advertised for a family-friendly animated film about Boudica, for their Boudica Gallery. Sixty animators applied and four were short listed. Emma Calder from Pearly Oyster Productions, London, was chosen. Please watch the Official Trailer.
Emma had set her heart on making the film, so she put a lot of effort into winning the pitch. Luckily for her, the style she chose fitted perfectly what the museum wanted.
Emma said, “Who was Boudica? When I received the brief, I didn’t know much more than what I had learned at school. After researching and thinking about how to tell her story, I was itching to tell a new version of the history, based on the best available evidence.
The project really suited my work and interests. Several of my films have female characters in the central role. “The Queen’s Monastery”, “Springfield” and “Madame Potatoe”. Also I have been making the slightly crazy adult art animation series “Random Person”.
Emma initially thought she might design Boudica in a watercolour style, like her film The Queeen’s Monastery, but because of the short deadline and the fact that the budget was a tenth of the size, she had to work in a more economical style.
Emma was looking round her studio for inspiration when she found a piece of broken pottery from the banks of the River Thames, that she had found on a mudlarking trip. She had decorated this find with a watercolour face. Within a few minutes Emma was drawing on another piece of pottery and Boudica was re-born. She incorporated twisted gold wire inspired by the Iceni golden torcs in the gallery, for Boudica’s arms and legs. She then combined this character with a watercolour background that she painted twenty years earlier in North Norfolk and the style for the film was set.
Emma says.“I love the highly skilled metalwork of the Iceni and imaginative fantasy of their designs. This combined with Roman artefacts, mosaics, coins, statues, buildings, roads etc.. was really inspiring to work with. The visual world integrated amongst the literary culture.
North Norfolk is my favourite place in the whole of the UK and I love the flatness, dunes etc. I also painted all of the watercolour skies for the film whilst on a boat on the Norfolk Broads, as well as recording most of the natural sounds for the film in the Norfolk countryside. In this way I was able to bring these vast landscapes into the gallery through the film, while combining the mysteries hidden still within.”
For the final film, Emma combined the tiny (2cm’s wide) flat models with paper collages, made from photographs of coins and other objects from the gallery. There were also sections of drawn animation and stop motion shot in daylight and cut out animation. Everything was combined on computer in (After Effects).
The animation team was small. This was mainly Emma, with her partner Julian Cripps, designing the backgrounds and helping with layouts. Additional After Effects work which included a small amount of 3d animation was done by Katerina Athanasopoulou.
After six months of hard work the film is now installed in the Boudica Gallery in Norwich Castle Museum.
In additional Emma will enter it into International Animation Festivals. So far the film has been short-listed for consideration by the final jury for the category of Best Commissioned Animation at The British Animation Awards and accepted to Animac 2014 in Spain.