[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] cautionary tale about a boy, Harry and his life-changing encounter with a vagrant puppet crocodile.
After an argument with his mum, Harry storms off down the road. Behind some bins, searching through scraps of food, Harry encounters a characterful, vagrant crocodile who has a thing or two to say about life on the road.
The crocodile is brought to life in the form of a vibrant puppet designed and built by lead Aardman model maker, Jim Parkyn.
Behind the scenes
Originally, I was writing a much longer short film and realised it was going to take a while to make and fund, so I thought I’d try my hand at something really short in the meantime. I can’t remember where the idea for the crocodile character came from, but I was interested in doing something that explored audiences’ perception. There’s no fantasy in Crocodile and I never suggest that there is, but I was interested to see how an audience would read it. I also wanted to see if I could make something that evoked strong emotions in a really short duration and that led me to the themes in the film that I think are universally relatable.
After a couple of false starts trying to get the shoot going, a friend of mine, Keith Lynch put me in touch with xFilm who had recently produced his short film. I sent over my script and they loved it. I already had a small budget which I’d saved up and xFilm agreed to match it. As soon as they came onboard, the project gained momentum and things started to fall into place: Key crew, castings etc.
One of the big challenges for the project of course was building a crocodile puppet. After watching a few tutorials on YouTube on how to make a Muppet style puppet, I realised that I wouldn’t have the time to take it on. So, I headed to twitter and put a call out. It was retweeted by Puppet Place here in Bristol. I had only one reply. Very fortunately it was from Jim Parkyn, a lead model maker at the Oscar winning Aardman Animations. He was keen to have a go at making a puppet and really liked the project so came onboard and designed and made the wonderful Crocodile creation.
Another call out via social media (a post on Facebook) connected me to the very talented Adam Fuller, a professional puppeteer. We had a few meetings and talked about the crocodile character, how he should be friendly and have a warm, South West accent. As soon as Adam put his arm in the puppet, the character came to life. It was fantastic to see and gave me a lot of confidence going in to the shoot.
Myself and the DoP, Chris Newcombe discussed the look and feel of the film quite early on. I was keen that it looked cinematic, but also I wanted it to be very colourful, almost cartoon like. We decided to use anamorphic lenses to give that cinematic framing. Chris chose the Lomo lenses and did some camera tests. They were characterful lenses and produced a slightly soft image. I was keen that the image quality was slightly softer (so that it didn’t look like digital), but the Alexa has a slightly softer image anyway and coupled with the Lomos was a bit too much, so we went with the Epic which inherently seemed to have a sharper image. This combination worked really well. (We were also very fortunate to have the Red Epic lent to us by my friends at Aspect Film and Video).
We shot the film over a bank holiday weekend in September 2014.
The first cut of the film was 4 minutes long without credits and I originally thought it was finished. After sending it out to a few people, a film festival curator suggested we try and cut a minute out of it. I thought that would be an impossible task to remove 25% of the film, but I took on the challenge anyway and sat with the editor for a day of brutal editing. We cut as much as we could with it still making sense and it made it a much punchier, clearer and concise film. It was an amazing exercise that I’ll definitely repeat with my future work.
Crocodile is now doing the festival rounds and is an award winning short. In collaboration with xFilm, I’m now developing the longer short that I intended to make before Crocodile.
Main Genre: Dramas
Budget: £1000 – £2500 How long did it take to shoot: 1 Day – 1 Week Film location (country): United Kingdom Film location (city): Bristol
Filmed on: Red Epic with Lomo Anamorphic lenses
Lighting equipment: 1.2K HMI, Kino Flo 4×4 Other equipment used: Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Maxon Cinema 4D