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Kilogramme hopes to tell more Tall Tales

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Kilogramme, the company behind the popular Tall Tales are seeking funding for the third instalment in the series. The series are fanciful answers to questions posed by imaginative children and answered by even more imaginative adults and take the viewers to a world where bouncing cows, mysterious doors and evil bears roam free. The first two films were produced by Kilogramme director Jon Turner in the studios downtime and self financed. The success of the films gathered critical acclaim and allowed the studio to expand and hire more staff and gain more commissions. The model of creating short films to allow a studio to flex its creative muscle isn’t something a lot of studios have time or money to do, especially as there is hardly any more interest from broadcasters offering a wide platform to screen these films.

When the funding landscape for short films is depressingly bleak it is nice to see a community support it, and whilst Kickstarter supplies the financial support from a community, the actual animation community of Manchester and beyond has gathered to support this venture. For the launch of the Kickstarter campaign Kilogramme displayed the artwork of 24 artists who had created specially commissioned pieces for the event.

We caught up with director Jon Turner to talk more about Tall Tales.

To the uninitiated, What are Tall Tales?

Tall Tales are white lies I tell my son about why he has to be quiet in certain places, why he has to go to bed by a certain time, where cars come from, where dreams come from, why people wear eyepatches and how milkshakes were invented.

I like the darker children’s storytellers like Roald Dahl, Hillaire Belloc, Edward Gorey and Heinrich Hoffman. Some of our stories are light, but we usually try and get something a bit wrong in there.

I had a folder full of ideas for short films, but didn’t have the time or money to make them as five or ten minute pieces. I realized if they only last about a minute we could make them relatively quickly and cheaply. It also made me cut out any deadwood, so they wouldn’t outstay their welcome. It’s a nice format, because a lot of stories will fit into a yarn spun by an adult.

The films seem to get darker as they go along! From a innocent enough, misleading story about milkshakes to killer bears keeping kids quiet, what direction does number three take us on and what can we expect to see?

We felt like we hit a nerve with the killer bears, so we’ll try to keep things dark.

When I was six I thought I heard a witch flying past my window leading a swarm of bees. Number 3 is very much in that vein. It’s witch based and isn’t good news for ducks.

How important is it for an independent studio to create short films?

Working for hire can lead to diminishing returns, as you might just be making things which look like other peoples’ work. We’ve always tried to do style tests at the very least, to stretch ourselves. Short films are a great reward when we get the time though. They help you remember why you got into animation in the first place. Without sounding too precious, they are made for love not money.

You’ve taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to make the film, why Kickstarter? Are the outlets and funding bodies for short films limited in the UK?

We’ve tried funding bodies in the past, but had unsatisfactory experiences. Also, a lot of funding bodies have closed down or changed their focus in the last few years. I wasn’t sure about Kickstarter, but the more I get into it the more I realize it is just a way of the audience deciding what they want to see, rather than a commissioner working out what the audience want to see.

We would have just made the film out of our own pockets again, but there are a few scenes which will be too expensive for that. Even though Tall Tales started small, ambition will always rear its head and push us to try something bigger.

Tall Tales Part Three launch party

Have you encountered anything you wouldn’t have expected when you started crowd funding?

It’s early days, but the business around crowdfunding seems quite developed. Several companies have been in touch about getting us more exposure. We’re never sure if they actually can, or if they will just try though.

Is there a greater communication between yourself and the audience when you embark on crowd funding, and does this effect the film in any way?

Most communication comes through sites like Vimeo. Tall Tales pt 2 found an audience there who were happy to leave comments. We used this for encouragement rather than anything else though. Hopefully we can keep details vague enough so viewers will want to back the film, but still be pleasantly surprised when they see what we’ve done.

Tall Tales Exhibition Gallery

 

Featuring work from: Elliot Crutchley, Jane Bowyer & Andy Mallalieu, David Ridges, Tom Mathieson, Amy Evans, Ross Phillips, Kristian Duffy, Kirsten Sheil, Emma Reynolds, Ste Johnson, James Chapman, Alan Dalby, James White, Claire Stamper, Emma Donnelly, Natalie Smillie, Maisie Platts, Chris Howker, Jamie Roberts, Jess Von I, Dominique Byron, Sarah Cowan, Shaun Martland

Could we see more Tall Tales in the future?

My son had me tell him a spooky story every night for about a year.Some were better than others, but I made a note of a few for future Tall Tales. I also have a backlog of ideas from way back. Hopefully there are a lot more to come.

Tell us a little about the artwork and designers that’ve created pictures for the launch event.

There were 24 artists involved, some have worked with us. Some are people we’d like to work with. Our character designer Emma Reynolds and our concept designer Kristian Duffy also created new pieces for the show.

Emma contacted the artists and we were blown away with the response and support from them. They put so much work into their pieces and it’s been amazing to see our films interpreted by so many different talented artists

Tall Tales Part Three launch party

At the launch party there seemed to be a lot of support. Is there a solid community of animators in Manchester?

Manchester is one of the best places in the UK for animation. At first Cosgrove Hall were at the centre of things and a lot of other companies like MacKinnon and Saunders and Flix came from them.

There’s more than just that though. I came over from Leeds and was really impressed with how many great illustrators and designers were here. Emma Reynolds is very connected to the local community, so is always mentioning people.

The talent base has got larger and larger since we set up. Mediacity and larger series producers have swelled the talent pool. There are also some great courses in the area. Bolton in particular.

At times things haven’t been as vibrant as now. We tried to help people along when we could, but I always saw us as a little raft on an ocean crossing. It can be exciting in a ‘Life of Pi’ kind of way and if you have room other people can join you. On the other hand you see other companies like ocean liners passing you by and sometimes have to be like Rose at the end of ‘Titanic’ when people try to climb on. She definitely had much more room on that door than us though.

The launch party felt great for all the support we got. Hopefully we can repay that as we go along.

You can make the third film in the Tall Tales series happen by supporting the Kickstarter campaign here. You can see the finished film for as little as £5 with larger pledgers getting some pretty impressive perks, including a superb art of book and a special appearance in the film. For more details visit the link attached to the video below.

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