silent spring in a big yellow taxi – research

Today we had our first character design workshop with Rory. We did some exercises in the morning to ‘loosen up’ and in the afternoon we had to start thinking about a character we want to develop on the subject of 60s counter culture. We’re apparently going to do a film for Royal Albert Hall (exciting!), but we’re still lacking a bit of information on what we need to do with our characters.. Anyway! That’s the theme, and we need to develop a character that represents in some way the 60s counter culture.

I’ll hopefully share some character sketches (along with life drawings) later this week. But right now I’m not feeling ready to commit to a character yet. I spent the day drawing a cartoon version of Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, one of the landmark books of modern environmentalism. Environmentalism is one of the movements that comprised the whole of the 60s counter culture. Let’s just say this is an issue very close to my heart and I’d love to pay homage to a woman that so greatly affected the world with her work. If you want to know more, I find this article really good in depicting her personality and contextualising her work within her personal life.


Carson’s Silent Spring influenced loads of artists, and since we’re talking about 60s counter cultures I’m interested in representing social groups I can relate to. Like females, in case you haven’t noticed! The second wave of feminism developed during the 60s, so I want to focus (or at least touch) on that too…
One of the artists Carson inspired was Joni Mitchell, that wrote Big Yellow Taxi as a direct consequence of Silent Spring.
I do have to say, I am not sure Mitchell counts as counter culture, since she’s a folk singer and so on… But she definitely changed the popular music panorama, being a woman songwriter singing politically charged songs. For me, Joni Mitchell embodies the feminist movement as well as the style of this era.


So this is where I am right now… Torn between doing a homage to Rachel Carson, or developing a more fluid character inspired on Joni Mitchell. I’m hoping that if I draw enough I’ll get closer to an answer. So, let’s see!
I’ve also looked for 60s psychedelic graphic arts, and WOW! The colours and the drawings are so bold and gorgeous! Definitely a great inspiration for a future colour palette, and maybe even graphic treatment!


Images from all over the internet, found by asking google to look for ‘Rachel Carson’, ‘Joni Mitchell’, ‘young Joni Mitchell’ and ’60s psychedelic art’.

Short Sighted

This Saturday I spent the whole day enclosed in a theatre watching a series of talks about how the universe of short films works.

Although some of the talks might have not been too enlightening for me, most of the day was quite useful. And overall it felt like a good introduction to what we should do when we find ourselves with a short movie in hands and want to get it seen by people.

So here’s some key learnings from that day:

Jordan McGarry on what makes a short movie successful/good and other advice on publishing a short online
– Your short film should tell people who you are, and a good short film makes people feel something
– Challenge the audience in a way that speaks to people like the other stuff doesn’t
– Make sure your film is as tight as it can be. Always try and give it a bit of a haircut on the final edit. Being shorter doesn’t hurt (this is actually something that she champions for, since on her current role at Film London she changed the maximum duration for accepting a short from 15 to 10 mins)
– Do the media/festivals planning before your film launches
– Send the film a bit before going public online to the press, in order to create momentum/buzz around it
– You can’t really upload a video and hope that it goes viral, find communities online that would relate strongly to your film to publicise it
– Launching a film online is easier if you have a festival laurel, and don’t put too many laurels on your film! Pick the important ones
– Regarding how vimeo works, when uploading a film you should have a strong thumbnail, a description that is on point and always credit everyone that’s worked on your film (and has a vimeo account) on it. The followers of the people that are credited on your film will see it on their feed as well. In order to get ‘staff picked’ you can email vimeo staff, but if your video has 30 likes in 24 hours, that’s enough for the staff to (eventually) watch it. So make as much noise on your social network as possible and ‘bribe’ people to go and like it!

Katie Metcalfe, Anna Bogutskaya and Johanna Brooks on shorts and festivals
– Get your film seen, forget about THE one festival (as in just sending your movie to big festivals)
– Don’t send a trailer to a programmer, they spend enough time watching films to have patience to watch trailers – just send the whole film
– Submit your film as early as you can to a festival as many of them have early bird fees
– You can always try to email film festival directors asking them for a free waiver, depending on the festival some might say yes
– There are festivals that accept ‘old work’, but usually a film in the festival circuit needs to be younger that 18 months up to 2 years
– Do your research! Make a festival list/spreadsheet with the festivals you want to submit your film to, and make sure your film is appropriate to those festivals.
– Check festival lists that allow for your movie to live on the internet and still be screened. At the current age, around two thirds of the festivals accept that
– Some festivals (at least Sundance) organise industry screenings for films they loved but didn’t make the cut to the festival for program reasons
– Once you get picked for a festival, online market the hell out of your film, create momentum about the screening
– Talk to as many people as possible in a festival, since a lot of work opportunities flourish from there
– Take business cards, postcards and posters to advertise the screening of your film

In the end of the day, we were shown some of the most successful British shorts of this year, and this one just really stood out for me. I’m guessing it is still going around the festival circuit, hence why there is only a trailer of it online!

Hope this was useful y’all! 🙂