First-time filmmakers Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath retrace the steps that brought them to creating their BAFTA-nominated short, Here to Fall.
Here To Fall is our first film. We, Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath, joined forces four years ago under the name ‘Blacknorth’, with the idea that we would direct and produce content for other people as well as develop our own original work. During the four years we worked on a fairly broad range of projects and were soon able to understand what kind of story we wanted to tell and how to tell it, which led to Here To Fall.
I (Kris) studied Animation at the University of Ulster, Belfast. I studied with Alistair Herron, who pushed me to ask why I wanted to create something, rather than how. It took three years for that penny to drop but that’s been my starting point ever since. I always want to explore something, document it; I never really responded to filmmaking that was just entertainment. I entered the industry in a pretty standard way, starting as a motion graphics designer and progressing to a director over a few years, but I was always using this as a stepping stone to get where I am now.
I (Evelyn) studied Fine Art at NCAD in Dublin, then went in the opposite direction and tried to train that into a commercial career. It was actually very helpful having that understanding of abstract ideas and visual representation. Coming from that perspective, interpreting ideas is often more important to me than narrative. I hadn’t really intended to create films, but while working in TV and production, I began to see how diverse animation had become and how much potential there is to develop odd, abstract narratives. It’s been a discovery for me.
"We’re completely blown over. Especially for our first film, it’s a huge honour. When you’re creating a film you just want people to see it."
Before Here To Fall, we directed animation in a number of productions for the BBC who were documenting families experiencing a range of difficulties. It was really interesting because we felt we had a responsibility to produce content that had a very specific purpose. It was a real driver when choosing our first story to develop, and Here To Fall was really us exporting separation issues between parents and children within a digital age, an issue that seemed to be affecting some people around us.
We spent quite a bit of time deciding what we would use visually to represent the girl’s emotions and experiences. Trying to visualise and render a void or emptiness she could interact with was particularly hard. Around the same time artists like David O’Reilly were pushing the boundary of what was acceptable in digital animation; we got a lot of confidence from his bold decisions. We completed it in June 2012 and it’s been to a few festivals already, getting a great reaction. Seeing it at festivals has been really rewarding. The next step is to think about an online launch.
Being BAFTA-nominated has been incredible. We’re completely blown over. Especially for our first film, it’s a huge honour. When you’re creating a film you just want people to see it. The exposure has opened up an entirely new audience for the film and the studio, and we’re hoping to connect with that audience for future projects.