BA (Hons) Film grad Caroline Morley won the highly-competitive Undergraduate Student of the Year at this year's Summer Show for her graduate film ‘The Skeleton Who Wanted To Be Whole’ – a beautiful, melancholy short film about 'a little boy who doesn't realise that he's dead'.
Since last month's Summer Show win, Caroline's gained a placement with Bristol-based BTTP Films, had her film selected for The Monthly Film Festival 2015, and has lots of plans for the future. We catch up with her about the inspiration behind her latest film, what life was like at the college, and the ambitious plans she has going forward.
Caroline, sounds like you’ve been pretty busy since graduating! What first got you interested in film?
Yes! It’s been crazy but fun. I think I first became enamoured with film because it’s such a strong visual medium that can be so immersive. It has the ability to transport you to different places and times and allows you to experience different cultures.
"I was very lucky that our cohort had such a diverse mix of tastes and opinions, so we all made each other think about film in a different way." — Caroline Morley.
And I really love being able to tell a story non-verbally. I think that showing people a story and allowing them to draw their own meaning from it is a really powerful way of getting an audience personally connected with it.
Tell us a little about your film 'The Skeleton Who Wanted To Be Whole'.
It's a black and white, dialogue free film about a little boy who doesn't realise that he's dead. It was inspired by German Expressionism and Surrealism with a bit of Wes Anderson's quirkiness and visual style thrown in.
What did you want to achieve with it?
I wanted to tell a complete story, but keep it really small. Kind of like a fairy tale told in one paragraph.
I was also really interested in telling a child’s story in a film that isn’t just for children. I love using child protagonists, because it adds a layer of fantasy – a slight remove from reality. I think it allows adults, as well as children, to connect with the characters on a more emotional level and not feel like the message and themes of the film are being pushed in their face.
I also want to push myself to combine everything that I’ve learnt throughout the course, both practical and theoretical. I used a lot of techniques – like stop motion animation and projection – that I'd tested out in other projects. And I pulled inspiration from a lot of the research that we did in our contexts of practice modules over the three years. I wanted the film to be the culmination of everything that I've done so far.
It's a very beautiful piece of work, congratulations. So who in the industry are you inspired by for your film making?
Ben Wheatley is a huge inspiration for me. Both for his films themselves, which are amazingly quirky and unusual. But also in how he's managed to develop a career in which he gets to make these weird films but can make a living out of it – through developing a relationship with Film4 who help him to fund his work.
Jonathan Glazer is another career inspiration. He's made music videos, commercials and films, so a really diverse portfolio of work, but everything that he does is interesting, unusual and a reflection of his personal style. And he uses his work in commercials and music videos to make connections – and money! – so that when he comes to make a feature film, he can make it exactly the way that he wants without having to sacrifice too much of his vision to get funding/backing.
"I wanted to tell a complete story, but keep it really small. Kind of like a fairy tale told in one paragraph." — Caroline Morley.
How did you find your time at the college?
College was great, even better than I'd hoped. I was very lucky that our cohort had such a diverse mix of tastes and opinions, so we all made each other think about film in a different way. The lectures were fab. I especially loved our Context in Practice classes. It was great learning about all of the philosophy, sociology and psychology behind art, that you don’t usually think about when watching a film.
But I think the highlight for me was getting to go to the Aesthetica Short Film Festival last November. It was really inspiring to see so many amazing short films, especially some from the previous years' class. It really helped me to work out what I wanted to achieve with my graduation film.
And you're currently on a placement with BTTP Films. How’s it going?
Yes I am indeed! Back to the Planet Films (BTTP Films) are an ethical film production company based in Bristol. It’s a really small production company which is great, because it means that I’m getting a chance to do some proper work – rather than just making tea!
I’ve only been here a few weeks, but I’m already working on writing a kids' TV series. And we’re heading to London in August to pitch a different TV series to the BBC. So it’s going really well.
"I wanted the film to be the culmination of everything that I've done so far." — Caroline Morley
Sounds very exciting! And after the placement, what's next for you?
Well, I’m continuing to submit my graduation films to festivals. I’d love for it to get into a few. I’m also writing a script for a feature, and eventually I’d love to write full time, I think that’s my dream goal.
But until I can get to that point, I’m really enjoying working in production and I want to get more experience so that I can start working as a freelance producer and assistant director for short and feature films.
See more of Caroline’s work on Vimeo.