The caption for the ‘Facing It’ trailer reads: “As Sean waits anxiously in the local pub, he is forced to explore his own unhappy memories and relationships in an evening that will change him forever.” That’s it. Click play and you’ll watch a plasticine puppet’s face undergo a journey of melting movement that’s surprisingly intense for how briefly it lasts. You’re left with little information, a strong impression, and wanting more.

We got a chance to speak with Sam Gainsborough, the director, and hear more about the project. He explained the film this way: “It is a film about how the relationships we live throughout our lives, sculpt and change who we are. The story focuses on repression, centered around a character who can’t live in the way he wants, and his anxieties manifest through the film’s bazaar plasticine technique.”

‘Facing It’ is a mixed media, stop motion/pixilation/live-action hybrid. Gainsborough told us, “The production process used a mix of different techniques, to create a life-sized stop motion world. We shot the film using a combination of live-action and pixilation, then through Dragonframe we essentially rotoscoped the footage to create the characters faces, which were shot in stop motion on a green-screen. For the film we used real actors, children and dogs, then we used roughly half a ton of plasticine to create each head in the film.”

“It was a crazy experience as the whole,” Gainsborough said, “the production process was a bit of an experiment. Before we began production I had made a very small test for the technique, which proved that the process should work. That said, we were thrown into the deep as soon as production started…One of the main challenges was figuring out how to light the heads to ensure they would fit within the backplates. I worked with a fantastic Cinematographer, Bruno Grilo, who quickly figured out how to light the film to ensure the finished image would look as good as possible. I was extremely lucky to work with amazingly talented people.”

When asked what’s on his plate now that such a large project is in the bag, Gainsborough told us, “I’m working on a couple of projects, entering into pre-production now. I absolutely love life-sized animation, and I want to develop this technique further. It’s a really exciting time, and it has been amazing finally watching ‘Facing It’ with different audiences all over the world. Stop-motion and other tactile techniques seem to really resonate with audiences, which is really inspiring to me.”

Half a ton of plasticine went into this film. Take a look at how in the behind the scenes here:

MAKING IT – behind the scenes of Facing It from Mdhamiri á Nkemi on Vimeo.