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Creator Q&A: Nicky Francis of Folie à Trois

1. What is your name, what do you do, and which film did you make?

My name is Nicky Francis, I’m a London based freelance 2D animator with a specialism in Character animation. I am part of the team that created ‘Mothers Earth'. 2. What experience do you have creating art and animation?

In 2013, I decided to take a leap and start studying animation at The London College of Communication in London. I had never seriously studied art before but it was a gamble that payed off massively when I quickly fell in love with animation. In 2017, I began studying character animation at Central St Martin’s in London and graduated from there in July 2019.

Outside of my studies, I try to animate and illustrate as much as time allows.

3. What inspired you to pick the story you chose?

Mythology is fascinating to me. Before making the film, I had recently read ‘Mythos’ by Stephen Fry. I love the way the ancient greeks and Romans explained natural phenomena as being caused by the Gods but also how their Gods are flawed in many ways. The versions of the creation myth that I have come across are very gendered, with Gaia (representing Earth) often being subjected to the fancies and whims of more male entities. It’s understandable when you consider that the myth is about creating and therefore would need a male and female entity to procreate.

However, I wanted to make a film using the concept of love as the source of life on Earth but with 2 female/ androgynous characters. Our interpretation of the myth can be understood to be about romantic love between women, about platonic love between women, or maybe the act of working in unison to create beauty.

4. What was your process for making your film?

Once we had the idea, it was drawn up as a storyboard, which was in turn made into an animatic. With the animatic ready, we could divide the tasks between the team and get to work. All the animation was first done in Adobe Animate. The roughs were transferred into Photoshop where we used custom brushes to artwork everything. Finally, the whole film was dropped into After Effects to add the textures you see in the end product.

5. How long did it take to make?

A rough estimate would be 2 months.

6. How experienced were you with narrative and story-based projects before making your altered fairytale? I started working with and writing narrative structures in my early 20s with comic strips. It was only at uni that I started to really pay attention to them though. Since 2013, most of my creative practice has been around character driven narratives and story-telling. 7. What was the easiest part? Coming up with the story. I already had it in my head and Things Took A Turn gave me the perfect opportunity to make it happen. 8. What was the hardest part? Design is the part of making an animated film that I am the least comfortable with. I enjoy it, but it takes more effort that other elements might. 9. What was your favorite part? The animation itself. I love working with the rough lines and seeing things start to come to life. Seeing the whole film completed is also a pretty good feeling. 10. Do you have words of wisdom for anyone who might want to create an animated short of their own? Go for it! Make short films and continue to make short films.

I think it’s important to put love and attention into whatever you make, but it’s equally as important to reach an end point so you have a sense of completion - there’s nothing worse for our creative self-esteem that unfinished work.

Once I’ve finished a project, I draw a line under it and rarely return to it. I like to move onto something new with all the lessons I learnt on that piece and see my work grow, rather than keep reworking the same film for too long.

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