I turned one of my poems into an animated short film! I got to collaborate with an amazing animator whose work I’ve admired for years: Patrick Smith. The film is quite short (under 3 min), and it includes a surprise twist & a song!
I’m excited to share it with you!
WATCH “THE MONSTER” HERE:
HOW I MADE THE FILM:
• I didn’t originally set out to make a short film. A few years ago, I was at my typewriter, and I wrote a very quick stream-of-consciousness poem about a monster. When I shared it on instagram someone commented that it would be great as an animated short film. I thought so too. So I made it!
• The score is me on piano and my dad on bass. On one track, I’m playing the piano like…a piano. On a second track, I have the lid of the grand piano open, and I am strumming the strings of the piano. That’s what creates that eerie cascading harp-like sound and the plucking sounds.
• The song at the end of the short film was not planned. As we were recording the narration, I was goofing around by the piano, and I started making up the song, and singing in a Brittish accent, like a British 70’s rock n’ roller. It felt fun and zany and very “me” so I tagged it onto the end of the poem. Once we had the animation, the song ended up really tying the whole piece together.
• My dad is the voice of The Monster. This was not planned either. After we recorded the song, I thought, maybe Phillip should also sing something. I thought maybe, like Groot – the character from Guardians of the Galaxy who only says “I am Groot” – perhaps Phillip only says his own name. So my dad hopped in the booth and sang a few “Phillips”. I think we can all agree this is his most genius work to date.
• The way I found Patrick Smith’s amazing animation was through a video series he did called “Blank on Blank”, where he animated lost interviews of actors, musicians, artists etc. The very first video I watched of his was a “Blank on Blank” of my favorite actor. I asked Patrick if he could draw that actor into our video as one of the background characters. He did! I’m keeping it secret who it is. But you might spot this mystery actor 31 seconds in.
• Projects take time to make. I wrote the poem in October 2018. And now it’s October 2021 and it’s out in the world!
P.S. Here is the original poem! Some of you may remember it from when I posted it on this site 🙂
Stream of consciousness
Like a ribbon
That can’t be caught
Or held onto for very long
But which keeps unfolding
And revealing itself
If you allow it to
It’s strange what exists in there
Those thoughts that you weren’t even aware you were thinking
Those foreign feelings
Unknown to you before, in murky depths,
But which seem to have been a part of you all along
Those images, shapes, signs
Of a universal language
Which seek you out
If only you listen
I wish I could always live in that exalted space
Of universal wisdom
Buzzing and whirring at a million miles a minute
Yes, that’s it.
I like when I’m a receiver of the great beyond
I like to sit in my little house
At my desk
Beside my telephone
Whose chord reaches up to the sky, past the viewing point,
A universal hotline, if you will,
That’s where I like to live
Waiting to receive.
Waiting for the call.
And then hearing it.
And picking up.
The many lives I lived before
Are laid out before me
Like diverging hallways
Wanting to be known
A will-o’-wisp leads me through the chambers
bouncing merrily along the dark, stone, castle corridor
She is the only light in the darkness, but for the dim, flickering, lanterns which adorn the walls,
The wisp looks like the floating ghost of a dog,
or perhaps a butterfly,
It’s hard to tell,
She keeps shifting and changing shape,
At times she turns to nothingness,
Her form stretches outwards into thin air and then returns to itself,
She nearly disappears every time she turns a corner,
I find myself having to walk faster and faster just to keep up,
After a long time of chasing the wisp, we reach an ancient door,
Green, wooden, and covered in moss and vines,
The wisp slyly opens the door and pulls me through,
My body is lifted up into the heavens,
I feel myself drenched in coldness,
As if I am naked in snow,
Consumed by ice,
And I find that I am frozen stiff, completely unable to move,
And yet, I am moving at incredible speed, faster than I have ever traveled before,
And then – with no warning –
I land Thud! Heavy as lead
I feel the hard crunch of dirt and grass beneath my feet
And that’s when I see myself
The way I was before
In this other life
How very strange to be looking at another version of myself
She is me and she is not me all at once
She was completely forgotten to me in my consciousness
And yet, it’s very clear she was known to me all along
I can hardly catch my breath
I know now that the past is not an echo
Note: I do not own the photographs included in this post, but I always try to link the photographs to their original source (when I can find it). If you want to find out more about the beautiful images & the photographers you can click on the images.