Quietly wrapped in themes of isolation, compassion and the cyclical nature of life, Winter’s Blight tells the story of an elderly man living alone in an isolated hut, struggling to keep himself warm in an unrelenting winter. Running out of firewood, he is forced to cut down the last remaining tree in front of his house that he has had a special connection with since childhood.
The film was written, directed, and animated by Claire Campbell and produced by Jon wilson of Shine on Films with music by Hanan Townshend. We got a chance to sit down with Campbell to hear a little bit about how she made the piece: “The film was made in Dunedin, New Zealand, on a very small budget and is the accumulation of over 4 years of work. Born of a desire to create a film that was moving, beautiful and rich in the small details.” Taking its time to build towards a quiet story, and with a delicate sense of pastoral aesthetics, we believe the film certainly has met that mark.
“Knowing I would be making it with a small budget,” Campbell continued, “I wrote a story that takes place in a single location with minimal characters. By only needing to build two sets (an interior and exterior) and make one main puppet I was able to focus on designing and building a really detailed and functional set, including having to build around 50 pine trees.” It is that type of commitment to definition and detail that had us so taken with the piece in the first place.
With respect to the wintery light and soft, almost frosted look of some of the outdoor scenes, Campbell explained, “I wanted the film to have a desaturated color palette and to look a bit like a watercolor painting come to life, so I often started with white materials and painted them the colors I needed rather than buying them in the finished colors. I also stained props and set pieces with inks and watercolor paints to give everything a lot of texture and a slightly damp aged look. A 2D flashback sequence was also created using a multi-plane setup and watercolor illustrations.
“It took me about a year to animate and Dragonframe was an essential part of the process in making this film, especially the arc motion control workspace which I learnt how to use for this project.”
As her first big undertaking in stop motion, Campbell told us how the film required a massive amount of learning and problem solving throughout. “I’m also a perfectionist, I knew the level of detail I wanted to achieve and was determined not to compromise on it. Working on most of the main elements myself was very time consuming and draining over that extended period, I drove myself a bit insane.”
Well, as far as we’re concerned all that time and effort were very much worth it in the end! Want to see more about Winter’s Blight? Check out the BTS video below: