"Jennifer’s Bodies is a roving annual festival of female-helmed horror movies and part of Women In Horror Recognition Month, an international assortment of affiliated events organised partly to highlight just how much women can and do contribute to the genre outwith the typically accepted factors of tits, ass and mezzosoprano screaming." Starburst Magazine

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Blast from the Past - An Interview with Laura Whyte - Nursery Crimes!

Name of Short – Nursery Crimes
Running Time – 3 Minutes 35 seconds
Year of  Completion - 2010
Location of Shooting – Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design
Director - Laura Whyte

What inspired you to make this short in particular?

Good question – I don’t know if it was one particular lightning bolt moment. My co-writer and I had come up with the poem years before, and I was feeling frustrated that we had never completed anything we’d started together – it seemed the most viable of the work we had, and more importantly (to our great surprise!) no one else had done this idea in this way yet.
So it was a fairly humble and technical beginning, but as soon as we began to develop the idea visually we realised how much we wanted to make it an ode to our favourite horror flicks, and to Jackanory – “it’s Jackanory gone wrong” was the pitch.

Is this the first short that you have worked on and if not, what other work have you done before this?

I studied animation at DJCAD so I had done some other student projects before. Nursery Crimes is my second time directing, but the first time we’d attempted stop-motion, and our maiden voyage into the world of horror.

What are you working on next?

It’s another horror short, stop-motion animation again – and it will have a similar comedic vein running through it. I’m excited to take this one to the next level – Nursery Crimes had a number of limitations that mostly came out of time constraints, my inexperience, and the fact that Bo Peep was a falling over champion! The worst was the Spider from Miss Muffet, though. There’s a close-up of him that took 32 attempts to shoot – and despite having only pipe-cleaners for arms he managed to rip his prop cup in half while my back was turned.
Incidentally when you spend weeks alone in a cupboard with only puppets for company they start to take on a life of their own....

Name one woman who you would just absolutely love to work with and why?!

Jennifer Saunders! One of the funniest people on the planet.

If you could choose one person, living or dead, who would choose to work with on your ideal project?

Orson Welles or Vincent Price (Pictured below) – but only because I like a damn good voice over ;)

Are you going to be doing anything special to celebrate Women in Horror Month this year?
Going to Jennifer’s Bodies, of course!  (YAY!!!)

Random question – if you had to recommend one TV show that you think people just HAVE to watch, what would you recommend!?!

Deadwood – the characters are brilliant, and it was cut short before it was in its prime. The first two series’ are almost perfectly written, I think. Brilliant use of the ensemble cast and the plot is woven into it seamlessly. Love it.

What's your favourite film from the past year? (Doesn't have to be horror!)

God, I am a terrible film fan. To preface this answer, I haven’t seen any of the major players in 2011 yet – Oscar list? What Oscar list? So I haven’t seen Drive, or The Artist, or The Descendants yet – I’ll get around to it eventually! So I’m going to say Rango, because it surprised me with its depth and it was wickedly funny, beautifully animated and visually distinct from the other 3D animated films that have been out before and since, and I left the cinema grinning – which is my only requirement for success!

How did Nursery Crimes come about, was it something that you'd been thinking about doing for a while?

Aha! The original rhymes were written years ago. Mell [co-writer] and I were babysitting her infant niece, and we’d regularly entertain ourselves by changing the words in her nursery rhymes and stories because she was too little to know any better (our babysitting services are still available, irresponsible parents everywhere). The original was much more offensive, and the only verse that remains intact is the first one:

Little Bo Peep had slaughtered her sheep,
And didn’t know where to hide them....

Nursery Crimes is not only visually stunning, your take on the classic nursery rhymes is insanely awesome and morbidly delicious...were these something that came quite easily or ordid you sit and think about them for a while?

The bare bones of it came easily, but we found there were a couple of hooks that didn’t work well – the verse with Jack and Jill was a late addition and we were changing the rhyming scheme on it right up until the last minute. The decision to always go back to “Little Bo Peep...” to move the story forward was late, too, so those verses were all added afterwards. We had to make several changes to the text in order to make it flow and make good sense – and then we had to be careful not to say what we were also going to show! For example, there was a verse about Humpty Dumpty that was cut, it went:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty took a bad fall
All the King’s Horses and all the King’s men
Said Humpty Dumpty knew too much.

Much as we liked the rhyme-breaking joke, we had two issues – one, that Bo Peep had already killed two witnesses, and two, that we could show the ‘Humpty was pushed’ joke without having Andy reading over the top of it.

You clearly are an incredibly talented artist, and a very naturally talented one at that. Is art something that you've always been interested, and were your school jotters covered in doodles? Although not doodles in the sense that I would doodle, haha, lots of stick figure people etc. I bet yours were individual works of art in themselves! :)   A perfect example of Laura's amazing artwork is this Mulder and Scully drawing.  *squeeeeeeeee*

Well flattery will get you everywhere ;) My French teacher once discovered me drawing her with a chest-burster erupting from her contorted body – by that point it was a wordless exchange and she just ripped the page out and took it. I would like to think now that she was privately flattered... but perhaps that’s a bit optimistic. I didn’t take it seriously until I was about eighteen or nineteen though (I studied Medieval History and Archaeology and Classics for six gruesome months before dropping out spectacularly), and except for dodgy pictures of my teachers being eviscerated and the occasional stuffy still life for art class I didn’t do much. Being accepted into a Filmcraft and Animation course at Motherwell College was the kick in the arse I needed to start putting the work in.

Do you have any plans to make an animated feature film? Something tells me it would potentially be my new favourite Nightmare Before Christmas, heehee!

Ah, maybe someday. Right now there’s still a lot to learn about filmmaking as a whole. Another short or six first, I think! One thing I will say I’ve learned is that you need the right team – short or feature, I’m useless by myself. Nursery Crimes had a lot of generous support from very talented people who helped me to build it and give it life – it would have been a barren, silent affair without them, and I wouldn’t attempt another film of any length without the same solid foundation we were lucky enough to have this time.

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