Animal Battalion

Animal Battalion was first screened at the Walthamstow International Film Festival in 2019. This festival of short films attracts entries from filmakers of all kinds and levels, from the local to the international, and is a highlight of the cultural calander in Walthamstow, east London. The 2020 festival will still take place, as I understand it, though with some changes due to the current pandemic.

Though I had been thinking about the idea for some time, in the end I made Animal Battalion very quickly. Looking back, I see that some of the decisions I made were probably more for practical reasons than for artist ones. The use of captions, which evoke the age of silent film, is something of an anachronism in the context of the Second World War setting (albeit a version of that war in which the combatants were a variety of animal-headed humas in army uniform)!. I could think of no effective way of adding spoken dialogue to the film, however, and so the captions remain. As you will see, I used the lowest of low-tech prod uction values here, and tried to make a strength of the home-spun approach. Much of it was filmed with the camera held in one hand, and one (or more) of the cast of puppets grasped awkwardly in the other. This technique results in much of what trained puppeteers would no doubt describe, disparigingly, as "dolly waggling". While I wouldn't try to refute the charge, I will say that I have a certain affection for some of the effects that resulted, which, to my mind, achieve something of the deranged energy of an elaborate children's game. The soundtrack is a mixture of my own instrumental noodlings, plus, for the nightclub scene, a distorted recording of the post-punk band I was part of in the late 70s/early 80s indulging in what we described at the time as "erzatz jazz". Some may have other words for it, and indeed, for the Animal Battalion project as a whole. If you're one of them, then be reassured, the entire film is over in minutes.

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