Have you ever wondered what a singing child might feel when his voice changes? Daniel Quirke explores this very pivotal moment of vulnerability in The Song of a Lost Boy. “The concept came out of discussions I had with writer Bríd Arnstein and producer Jamie MacDonald around different themes that were important to me,” Quirke told us. “We gradually crafted a coming of age story about a choirboy having a crisis of faith when his voice breaks before going on a journey of discovery towards self-acceptance.”
In the film, Ben a young choir boy, has a crisis of faith after his voice breaks mid solo and decides to run away from his community. When he happens upon a group of nomads who take him in, Ben hides the secret about who he really is and must decide what to do with it.
“I liked the idea of it being set in a desert as it has an almost biblical feel but also I always loved the desert landscapes in surreal paintings that make you focus on the subject matter but also put you in this otherworldly place,” he said. This is especially true of the human characters in the piece whose ultra-shiny, almost melted look is quite arresting from the start. “The puppets were made out of wax,” Quirke told us, “as I initially wanted them to melt in the hot heat of the desert sun to create a sense of jeopardy and fear of leaving the safety of a desert community, but it became a bit complicated for the storyline.
“I also liked how wax looked under the lights and also how it naturally picked up dirt which meant that as we shot the film chronologically, it made the main character physically look like he’d actually been on a journey. At times the wax was problematic though, as it wasn’t the easiest material to animate and was unsurprisingly heavily affected by temperature. In the winter months when it was cold, the wax became quite stiff and difficult to move so we had to use heaters pointed at the puppets and then when we shot during the hot summer months and under the hot lights, the puppets started to get quite soft and shiny as they melted slightly. However, thankfully story wise, this was whilst they were around a fire so it made some sort of visual sense.”
Of this, and the other challenges the team faced, Quirke commented, “Making a film over a long period of time is always challenging as you can start to doubt your ideas and think you should be doing something else but having a good team around me really helped to bring me back on track whenever I started to do so.”
A distinctive story that speaks to the way embracing change and one’s uniqueness can lead to finding a true tribe, the film is available to view on Vimeo, as well on Youtube on the Short of the Week and Directors Notes channels.
For more on the production, see the behind the scenes pics below: