In Good Intentions, a small thriller about decision making and guilt, a young woman is responsible for a car accident. She escapes the scene but can’t stop thinking, or imagining, what happened to the other driver. The scenes that ensue, as the woman then becomes a ghost of its former self, are what really grabbed our eye. We’d never seen a ghost puppet before and director, Anna Mantzaris, pulled it off very well.
The film, which premiered at BFI International Film Festival and has since then been shown in over 130 Festivals, was made during the director’s final year at the Royal College of Art. “I wanted to test something different than my previous funny film Enough, that was more of a comedy,” said Mantzaris. “This time I wanted to do something more thriller-like and ambiguous. I was curious about what happens when we get consumed by our own feelings, in this case guilt. And I was also very interested in the concept of ghosts, and if it can mean more things than dead people. For example, if you can become a ghost of your former self.
“I wrote the story with my boyfriend…And then we had about 5 months for the production. I did the puppets myself and had the help of a modelmaker, Hetty Bax, to build the sets. We also had the help of a few volunteers and I don’t know how we could have made it without them! It was all very tightly scheduled and many later nights. But we had some good benefits of the school as well, like laser cutter and wood workshop. I used wire in my puppets and ball and sockets in the main character. But actually, a bit into the build we realized that we need to shoot in two units in order to have a chance to finish in time, so I made one more of the main character in wire.
“For the shooting I worked with my cinematographer Donna Wade, who did all the lighting. We met the year before when we did Enough, our first project together,” Mantzaris said, then reflected back on the process: “Even though we were not that many people for a production like this, it was my first time directing a little team of people. It was a new set of skills to learn– to communicate and get others to understand your vision. It was not only about making, but much more about communicating as well.”
We asked Mantzaris about any other challenges and she went over her experience with every animator’s enemy: time. “In hindsight I think the project was too ambitious for the time we had, and I was already cutting down the script quite a bit. But in a way it was good that we were a bit naive from the start because I think that is what made us manage to do it. We just jumped in and had no idea how much work it was actually going to be.”
Another for the team challenge was the space. “Even though RCA has a good stop motion space, we were a few students making stop motion films and I also needed to have two sets up at the same time. So most of the sets needed to be pretty small. I really wanted the film to start with a wide shot so we made it in miniature with the car being only 2cm long, but it worked out really well!”
Next up for this graduate is a film she made for Global Women. “I keep saying that I want to do my own work but then fun jobs keep coming up!” We’re thinking this is a very good sign of things to come. We’ll be watching!