The Bigger Picutre

Shorts Nominees 2015 | The Bigger Picture

Daisy Jacobs is a writer, director, artist, BAFTA Scholar… and now she’s also a BAFTA winner! And all at 26 years old. It’s an impressive CV. We caught up with Daisy to find out more about how she’s found herself in this enviable position…

Daisy – welcome to the Guru – we’re about to hit awards season. The BAFTAs this weekend and the Oscars not long after that – how are you feeling about it all…

Obviously, I'm excited, and looking forward to it all, but a tiny little part of me also wants it to be over! To be nominated for two huge awards like this, is an honour in itself, but I think it's going to be quite stressful, sitting there in my gown, smiling, while thinking 'Pick ME, pick ME!'

You’re nominated for your animation called The Bigger Picture, could you sum it up in a couple of lines?

Two brothers struggle to care for their elderly mother; they fight but finally see the bigger picture . It's also called 'The Bigger Picture' because the animation is life-size. The technique is a hybrid of intricate wallpainting and 3D stop-motion that hasn't been done before.

It’s an amazing place to find yourself but what has it taken to get to this point? Where did you study? Had you made other films before this one? Talk us through the process…

I studied Illustration at Central St Martins, stayed on to do a post-graduate in Character Animation, and then did a two-year full-time MA in Directing Animation at the NFTS. I made 'Don Justino de Neve' and 'Tosh' along the way as well as two 'test' films to develop the new technique (both 'Rogue' and 'Barnes' can be seen on my Kickstarter page).

Your animation style is a mixture of characters painted on the wall mixed with 3D elements – how did you come up with this idea and how did you test out the practicalities before embarking on the project? Did you have any help?

I developed the life-size technique over my two years at the NFTS. Up to that point, I'd done lots of hand-drawn animation – Tosh, Don Justino de Neve – but it was all small-scale, mostly pen-and-ink drawing, with a colour wash, and I was really missing painting. So I found a wall in school, in the corner of an old portacabin, painted two huge characters on it, and just started animating life-size. Everyone seemed to like Barnes, so I comandeered the whole portacabin for my next project! It was in Rogue that I first added the 3D element – papier-mache arms interacting with real objects – to show that the paintings were life-size. Christopher Wilder came in at this point because he can make any object you can think of out of a torn-up cereal packet and masking tape. The paintings' interaction with real objects and sets is very important - otherwise, it can be hard to tell that everything is life-size – although there is a scene in The Bigger Picture where people always say 'Oh, that's a real television!'.

In total how much did it cost to make and how did you fund it?

I had a budget of £8,000 in all, but I made the film at the NFTS so I was able to use all their facilities – which are second to none. I was fortunate enough to be given one of the largest studio spaces in the school for six months, and, of course, at the NFTS you get a crew of fellow students – doing their own MAs in cinematography, sound, editing, and so on – all bringing their skills to the film for free. So the budget bears little relation to the actual cost of making the film! I spoke to Calum Macdiarmid about his film, 82, and he said it cost 'about £6-8K to make and a lot of favours' – I think that's the case with small independent filmmakers: a lot depends on favours and goodwill. I've got the same team on board for the next film, except Chris (Hees) who's moving into live action – and they'll be working for a nominal fee. We're also crowd-funding on Kickstarter at the moment to pay for studio space, masking tape and tea. There's no water in the new script so at least we'll make a saving on cling film!

Once finished - how did you promote your film? Did you publish it online and hope lots of people watched it? Or did you hold it back and submit it for select festivals?

Putting your film online, disqualifies it from most festivals, so yes I've held it back, so far: you get two years for the festival period, but my film may go out online before that time elapses. It all depends. It will be great to make it available to everyone – like my previous films – but it has been very exciting entering and winning festivals around the world and getting feedback from experienced programmers, juries and filmmakers who are incredibly knowledgeable about the medium. Taking part in film festivals gives you a clear indication of where you stand in the industry – and they have great parties!

You’re a BAFTA Scholar – can you briefly explain how you found out about the scholarship and what it helped you to achieve?

I couldn't have made 'The Bigger Picture' without the BAFTA scholarship. It's as simple as that. Ten thousand pounds is obviously going to make a difference to anyone, let alone a student, but it was more than that: my BAFTA mentor was absolutely key. When I asked BAFTA for a mentor with experience of cinematography – because I was working with very large sets for the first time – I never expected to get a world-class animation cinematographer like Tristan. It was like winning the lottery!

I found out about the scholarship because I was looking pretty much everywhere for funding for my second year at the NFTS. There was -and still is- very little financial help available to MA students – other than career development loans, which I used to fund my first year. I think there is much more awareness now that these life-changing BAFTA scholarships exist.

What’s your plan for awards night – or you planning on using it for networking or just getting drunk and dancing on tables?!

Networking is not really my thing, but I have a go, and fortunately BAFTA events are rammed with interesting people talking about film and creative endeavours, and that's something I really enjoy.

And finally – what’s next?

A new film, set in the divorce boom of the 1980s, starts production in June, once we get the funds and space together. I'll be working with most of the previous crew, as I said, and using the same life-size hybrid technique but pushed even further this time, with top-secret new elements! It will be quite strange putting my jumpsuit on and painting in the cold again after all the glamour of the awards season, but at the end of the day, a lot of hard, dirty work goes into making a film. When you watch the final result, it really is like magic has happened.