Sunday, February 24, 2019

Stop-Motion Animation: A Creaky Artist's Studio and a Little Clay Girl "On the Other Side of the Woods"

A small clay girl is lost in a creaky artist's studio, meets a wolf... and it's exactly as "fairy tale" as it sounds.

Gypsy shared this on Twitter the other day and we realized we had never posted it on OUABlog, which we should have. It's possibly our favorite stop-motion animated fairy tale short film.
"On the Other Side of the Woods" is "a beautifully realized stop-motion fairy tale about a small clay girl lost in a creaky painter’s studio."* It's a tale of art retelling a folktale, using the fourth-wall of an artist's space, commenting on itself & its story. Created, shot and directed by Estonian director Anu-Laura Tuttelberg (with animator Olga Bulgakova), it's the sort of film that stays with you and continues to delight, long after seeing it. It's not only beautifully done but it comments so well on the art of storytelling, on fairy tales, and on those who tell them & the resulting new tale variations.
It's short, sweet and beautifully shot.
Take a look:
One of the beautiful things about this film is that the deceptively simple presentation gives the viewer lots of room to consider different things it could be commenting on: the confusion, naïveté, and vulnerability of childhood; the artist's process and the life the creation has separate from its maker; the monsters of wolves and also of time; the nostalgia and inevitable passing of childhood; seeing our stories in our creations; the wilds of the creative process and the struggle to make a work that survives it; the contrast versus the interconnectedness of fantasy and reality; the different paths retelling an old tale can take...

“I didn't want to separate the two worlds,” says Tuttleberg, “but to make them fit together instead. I wanted to unify them all into one world and atmosphere. The black and white photography is very graphic and I like that kind of character of a visual, plus I started my studies in art with photography, with black and white analog photography and I find it beautiful and intriguing.” (source)
The description - and appreciation - below of the film, while focusing on the materials used, shows yet another aspect of this lovely film. This is from the Dragonframe website (Dragonframe is the industry-standard software used for stop-motion film):
Directed by Anu-Laura Tuttleberg, “On the Other Side of the Woods” is the story of a little girl made of clay who awakens and brings everything she touches to life. The films aesthetic is special because of its unique use of materials for its sets and puppets. The textures are extremely satisfying to watch. Wet clay becomes hardened, pools of water evaporate and replenish, and light slides across every scene . Shot using only natural lighting, both time and the animators touch are very present throughout the piece. “On the Other Side of the Woods” is a great example of what is so special about stop motion. It is a true labor of love and an enchanting and thoughtful film.
We love how the materials for each set and character are very specific and form part of the commentary on, not just the characters but the story itself, as well as being a commentary on the artistic process. Director Anu-Laura Tuttelberg writes:
"“Teisel pool metsa” / On the Other Side of the Woods is a poetic fairytale shot in an old house in the centre of my hometown Tallinn. The atelier where the story takes place used to be the working space for a famous Estonian painter Ants Laikmaa and is now giving inspiration for my works. The film studies different materials for puppet making and sets using such contrasting materials as wood and clay to bring out the differences in the film characters.  
The materials for puppets were chosen to express their characteristics. The girl for example is made of moist clay to express her dynamic and free personality. She is always flowing along with any event that she comes across in life. I used real clay for making her, and asked the animator to move the surface of her body in every frame so that it is visible that she is made of soft wet clay. The technique was quite time consuming as the clay deforms easily while animating and I had to make a new puppet for each shot.
The film is shot with natural light which makes the viewer aware of the stop motion technique and also shows the passing of time in the film."
If you think about the character of Little Red Riding Hood as you read the above description. doesn't it feel like subtext for this classic fairy tale character?

There's so much contained in this little gem!

And now, ever since seeing this film, we fully expect to stumble across other little characters living out their artistically-fairy tale lives in other busy ateliers, don't you?

* Quoted from a review by This Is Colossal
- Additional source: Anu-Laura Tuttleberg portfolio -

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