A year ago Daisy Jacobs was exhausted having just finished her graduation film, The Bigger Picture after 12 months of hard work. Now, she’s preparing to go to the Baftas and Oscars where that film is up for awards in the best animated short film categories.
It’s been a remarkable journey for the young director who received the Rising Star Award at the Colchester Film Festival just a few months ago. The festival’s organisers got it right, she’s certainly a rising star and just a year into her career can claim to be an Oscar-nominated director. Some people wait a lifetime for that kind of accolade.
Yet animation is a fairly recent preoccupation for Daisy who grew up in Hampshire and was initially interested in fine art and illustration. She studied illustration at Central St Martins in London and only studied animation in her last year there as an extra option. She obviously saw potential for her work in that area and did a further two years at the National Film & Television School (NFTS) to explore animation.
“Illustration is what I’d been doing and after a time you want to make that move,” she says. “I didn’t find it easy, I couldn’t do it at first. I found it very difficult, it took me a good six months to get the hang of it. I was bottom of the class.”
But Daisy persevered and had a vision of turning the kind of art she liked doing into animated films, starting with The Bigger Picture, the making of which took up the second year of her time at the NFTS. Most first-time animations are small-scale efforts, but Daisy was thinking bigger.
“I wanted to have a go at painting on a large scale at film school. When I started working with the crew, we each worked out our own parts. The set was half a real room and half flat, so it presented issues with how we filmed. We got through it together through trial and error.”
A vital part of the process was working with the right people. The film’s animator and model-maker Chris Wilder was someone Daisy knew and liked from her illustration and post-graduate courses while cinematographer Max Williams was on the NFTS programme and was “a can-do guy, very helpful and a decent man.”
The themes behind The Bigger Picture were inspired by Daisy’s own experience, as she explains:
“The story is loosely based on my family because my gran had Parkinson’s and was very ill and in a wheelchair for the last two years of her life. So I wanted to look at a family and the problems there are with dealing with an elderly relative.
“It took four months to write in all. I wrote too much, about 12 minutes at first, which was too long. It needed to be shorter so I took a lot out in editing on the storyboards. I found it easier to cut it down and fine-tune it when I saw the images”
When the script was ready, Daisy and Chris spent a month making props for the film in what might possibly be the smallest office at the National School of Film and Television. Whereas the other students would be using their offices for their small-scale animations, Daisy and Chris knew they’d need a bigger space for their larger scale production so they were content with a small space… until they realised there wasn’t always room for much else besides the two desks in there.
“It was very, very cramped,” Daisy admits recalling having to give up painting a rug when she realised there wasn’t even space to stand up in the room.
Making the film itself, animating and filming, took six months, then there were a few weeks of post-production which finished almost exactly 12 months ago. Overall, it was an intense and exhausting process for Daisy and her team but more than worth it given the reception The Bigger Picture has received.
Visually, it’s a striking film and quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before as life-size 2D animated figures interact with a 3D domestic setting. Daisy cites painter David Hockney as an influence and you can certainly see that in the bold visuals and colours she uses. Narratively, The Bigger Picture looks at the struggles two brothers have in coping with their ill, elderly mother but while it’s dark at times, it’s also funny and very entertaining.
It’s been a big hit on the festival circuit this year, receiving many screenings and accolades including at Cannes where it won the Cinefoundation Award. Obviously, Daisy is delighted with all the attention and positive comments The Bigger Picture has been getting.
“It’s been a really great year. We’ve taken it to loads of festivals. It’s been amazing to see how people react, we’ve been getting lots of really good feedback. Chris went to the screening at Colchester and said the reaction there was really great.
“The festival circuit is really important for networking and getting people interested in your work. Festivals are really great with prize money too, that’s what makes your next film a possibility.”
And to top it all, The Bigger Picture receiving Oscar and Bafta nominations in the same week means it’s been a remarkable twelve months for Daisy; from film school graduation to going to Hollywood’s biggest event in the space of a year is quite an achievement.
“It is amazing, it didn’t’ sink in at first but it has now,” she says just a couple of days before she’s due to attend the Baftas and a fortnight before the Oscars are handed out. “I got an amazing goodie bag from Bafta.
“I’m all sorted for the Baftas now, I got the hang of the wearing-the-dress thing for Cannes, so I’m ready.”
But amid the glitz and glamour of award ceremonies, Daisy is still getting the finance together for her next film another look at family life.
“It’s about the idea of dispersal,” says Daisy. “About how families drift apart and it’s set in the 1970s and 1980s.”
Daisy has had a flying start to her career in film-making and could have a Bafta and Oscar on her mantelpiece in a couple of weeks’ time, but what does she think about the state of the British film industry in general? Is she encouraged?
“I think Britain has always been very strong with the moving image in general, I think we’re a very creative country and we’re in a good place.”
And that’s thanks to people like her.
Find out more about The Bigger Picture at www.thebiggerpicturefilm.com and how you can be a part of the Kickstarter campaign for Daisy’s new film here www.kickstarter.com/projects/635231029/life-size-animated-film
Submissions are now open for this year’s Colchester Film Festival at
By Darryl Webber
Journalist, writer, blogger