‘Of All The Things’ Crowdfunder Project Interview with Director Steff Lee and Producer Bella Tomlinson

‘Of All The Things’ Crowdfunder Project Interview with Director Steff Lee and Producer Bella Tomlinson

‘Of All the Things’ is a 2D animated short film, partly funded by the BFI NETWORK, that delves into the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship amidst the challenges of hoarding disorder. Offering a fresh perspective, the film emphasises the journey towards understanding and connection while aiming to raise awareness and combat the stigma surrounding this often misunderstood condition.
Director Steff Lee and Producer Bella Tomlinson shared with us the journey of the film so far and how the crowdfunder project will also provide opportunities for women in animation.

Q1. Hi Steff and Bella, can you elaborate on the inspiration behind "Of All The Things" and how your personal and professional experiences influenced its creation?
Steff - As the child of someone with hoarding behaviours, I've grappled with the stigma and shame surrounding the condition. Fed up with the negative media portrayals I wanted to use my animation skills to tell a story that sheds light on the human side of hoarding, challenges stereotypes and fosters empathy. 
Bella - Although I have been working in animation for a while, I have never produced a short film. When I discovered that BFI NETWORK had a short film fund, I discussed with Steff if she had any ideas. Steff shared that she had wanted to make a short film about hoarding disorder for some time, and this gave us the perfect opportunity to secure funding and bring our vision to life.

Q2. The film aims to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes about Hoarding Disorder. Can you explain how the narrative and visual elements of the film aim to achieve this goal?
The film's narrative focuses on a daughter's struggle to understand why her mother's home is filled with so many things. Initially, she reacts with anger and frustration, arguing with her mother. However, by the end of the film, she reaches a place of understanding and empathy. The storyline and visual elements demonstrate that hoarding is not just about tidying up and clearing things away. It's a complex issue that requires compassion and understanding, focusing on the person, not the stuff. The visual elements, such as the cluttered environment portrayed as jumble of shapes and the emotional expressions of the characters, reinforce this message, emphasising the complexity and emotional depth of hoarding.

Colour Script

Q3. The film provides a platform for women in the animation industry. Can you tell us more about the team behind the film and how their diverse talents contribute to the project?
We decided early on in pre-production that we wanted the film to provide opportunities for women in animation. When reaching out for each role, Bella actively sought out talented women. Our team consists of a diverse mix of women, from a very experienced script editor to story artists who were fresh out of university. This blend of professionals and emerging talent has led to a unique and interesting style for the film.

Concept Art

Q4. Can you share some of the creative processes behind the film, such as the development of the artwork, character designs, and music? How do these elements help convey the story and themes of Hoarding Disorder?
We gave our two trainee story artists, Kathryn Flynn and Mhari Sibeth, free rein in developing the artwork. Steff refined the character and set designs, but the initial ideas were very much Kathryn and Mhari's own. Mhari created a colour script which moves us through the different moods in the film from the bluish tones of the early scenes to the bright loud purples and pinks as Ava becomes more and more overwhelmed by the things in the house.
For the music, Bella discovered Sarah Playford's amazing work and knew she would be perfect for the project. We shared the animatic with her and provided some pointers before she began composing. We aimed for the music to be highly emotive, capturing the impact hoarding had on the mother-daughter relationship. 

Q5. Can you tell us more about what inspired you to offer a career support reward as part of your crowdfunding campaign? What do you hope aspiring animators will gain from this experience?
We helped put together an animation open-call in Leicester - we met several graduates who were keen to learn from us. When we were thinking of rewards for our pledges we believed that this would give that opportunity across the UK and not just in the East Midlands - of course, if people are local we could organise a face-to-face meet-up. We hope aspiring animators can gain insights into what it's like to work with or set up a studio. We can give them a few business tips as well as creative ones.
Steff 7 Bella

Support our short film 'Of All The Things' 
Shedding light on the real human emotions between a mother and daughter within a hoarded home. Supported by hoarding organisations and industry experts.

Join us in making a difference to those affected by hoarding disorder.
Crowdfunding until 7th July

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