Since meeting at Kingston University, where they both studied Illustration & Animation, young filmmakers, Emily and Anne, have garnered awards both at the BFI Future Film Festival and across waters at the New York International Children’s Film Festival.
Now in the final stages of production for their third film, which will premiere at the Exposures Film Festival next year, their style is characterised by delicate, playful and feminine imagery, often reflected in their choice of accompanying audio.
Working together for several fistfuls of thirsty clients, including animation for BFI, Nexus Productions and BBC Learning, 1883 talk to Emily and Anne about their current work and growth as a collaborative force.
Your short film, Spin Span Spun, features an abstract depiction of a journey through the factories of North West England. Is this a subject that you are particularly interested in?
Before deciding whether to go for a pitch or not we begin by researching our subject. Neither of us knew a lot about Bolton’s cotton industry or Samuel Crompton. We learnt of Crompton’s invention the ‘Spinning Mule’, the most widely used machine in the factories and of how he never received recognition for this in his lifetime and that he died a very poor man. His story was so sad and seemed to tell so much more, it gave everything a context for us and made us really keen to take part. We are always interested in the whole process to a story and the research is a part to this that we particularly enjoy. It is great to be able to work on a subject that you know little about and bring that whole process of learning to the piece as much as anything.
Whenever we pitch on something, we get really fascinated by the subject, even if it’s not something we’d thought about before. Now, knowing about the cotton industry, we do find it really interesting. We enjoy showing the film to people and explaining all the historical details in it.
You were commissioned by Bolton Museum to create Spin Span Spun, how did this come about?
We contacted them initially. We had seen their call for artists online; it asked for artists to apply short film ideas that would display and celebrate Bolton’s textile and industrial past. They specified that it must work as a moving piece of art, so that visitors could take something from it even if they only stopped for a moment. The piece was to be shown in the Museum’s permanent collection, so it would be played on a loop. We wanted it to have a story and structure, but to also work in isolated parts, with lots of elements, so that if someone was to watch it over they might notice new details they hadn’t seen before. We sent in a treatment and after an interview, won the job!
We’ve seen Anne’s short film, Sun in the Night Time, do you both work independently of each other or are you concentrating on your collaborative work right now?
Sun in the Night Time was Anne’s graduation film from university. We both did graduation films, and although we talked through ideas with each other then, we didn’t work together because of the nature of our course. We do work independently of each other at times, but this tends to be more with freelance work as opposed to our own films. At the moment we have lots of plans for more projects to work on together, we really enjoy working in this way and it tends to mean we work quicker, although not always!
You’ve won numerous awards, are there any in particular that you are especially proud of?
It was really exciting to win Best Animation at the BFI Future Film Festival. We love the BFI and we were both really chuffed to be selected let alone to win a prize! This was also great as it meant we had the opportunity to make the trailer for their following years’ festival, and help on the jury for that year.
Also to win a prize at New York International Children’s Film Festival was amazing, as we weren’t even sure that our film’s humour would translate that well. This prize was especially meaningful as it was a children’s jury, we were just sad to not be able to collect the prize in person.
You’ve made music videos as well, is this a field that you would like to work more in?
We’ve not made many, but we are about to pitch on a new one in fact. It is an area where we’d like to do more. We like doing all types of work, and music videos can be really fun, creating imagery from the lyrics, and choreographing the animation to a specific beat. Music always plays a big role in our own work, so we’re quite suited to music videos. The only issue is that they tend to have a very fast turnaround, and as we’re only two it’s sometimes a little tricky.
Where did the two of you meet and how did you decide to start ’Emily & Anne’?
We met at Kingston University, where we studied Illustration & Animation BA. We didn’t exactly work on each other’s projects, but we did help each other and show each other what we were working on. After graduating, we both wanted to make a new film. It took a little while to get our act together, but we made A Film about Poo together in 2009, and it worked really well. It’s hard to animate a whole film by yourself, and have no other company – it’s easier to doubt yourself too – so working together is just more fun for us. We work off each other’s ideas, and we both work on every shot together. One of us will storyboard it, the other will animate it, then we’ll swap files and comp it together...it’s genuinely back and forth so that we both work on everything and the animation is a genuine distillation of both of us.
You’ve also made a zine, with drawings accompanying the lyrics to Belle and Sebastian’s ’Expectations’. Would you ever consider making a video for another of their songs?
We would absolutely love to make a video for Belle & Sebastian. They are one of Anne’s favourite ever bands, and she’s seen them loads of times and has all their records. We should probably get on with it and pitch that to them!
Have you got any new projects that you’re currently working on?
We’re in the final stages of production on our third film. It doesn’t have a title at the moment, but it is a slightly creepy, abstract film about sleep paralysis. The film was funded by Vision & Media, and we’ve had a really good time working on it, and working with the producers at Cornerhouse and Mackinnon & Saunders in Manchester. We’re also working with an editor for the first time, which has been really helpful, and should create a more interesting film. We’re hoping that when it’s done that it will have quite an unsettling, dream-like feel to it. It should be finished early in the New Year, and it’s premiere will be at Exposures Film Festival.
For more, check out www.emilyandanne.co.uk
Words By Morgan Meaker and Rowan Newman
Spin Spun Span from Emily&Anne on Vimeo.