MAN’S BEST FRIEND was a huge audience winner at the December 2016 Family/Animation Film Festival. A film about a boy who loses his beloved soccer ball and how he reconnects with his mother in the search for it.
It was a pleasure chatting with the filmmaker about the film and what’s next:
Get to know the writer:
Matthew ToffolO: What motivated you to make this film?
Rob Sprackling: Having made two shorts before and having really enjoyed the process, I was keen to do another. A friend (Damian Curran) suggested we make something together – and I had this idea kicking around in the back of my mind – so we put some money in – along with my old school pal George Grant – and made the film.
MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
RS: It had been fermenting in the back of my mind for a year or so before I committed it to paper. From the moment I wrote the script to the moment we locked the film – I’d say about a year.
MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?
RS: Ball Quest
MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
RS: Completing the animation/vfx. We initially had a company who were going to animate the ball for us – but they were very busy and as this was a no-fee/favour type gig, it kept getting bumped back. After three or four months – and despite their best efforts – they were just unable to find the time to do it. We decided to move on and use a young guy Oliver Abbott, who, though less experienced, was very talented and keen to get into it. Once he was on board – it only took a few weeks to get the film finished. If he hadn’t – we might still be waiting!
MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
RS: It was nice to hear their thoughts. Perhaps would have been good to hear from a few others as well (there were only two people who shared their thoughts plus the host). However, those that spoke made good sound points and I’m glad they took out of the film what I had intended – in particular finding it funny, moving, engaging and sweet.
MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
RS: As mentioned this story had been in my head for a year or two having worked on a Nike ad for the World Cup 2014 (which was very different indeed). I got the idea of a Nike swoosh being a mouth – which led to the concept of a ball having an animated face. After that I came up with the story of a boy and his mum searching for a beloved lost ball, like looking for a lost dog, which seemed to fit a short film length narrative. Finally, as a screenwriter my previous two shorts were both quite wordy, so I wanted to set myself the challenge of telling a story purely through pictures and music.
MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?
RS: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Probably around 30 times. Can’t resist it. After that probably ‘Withnail and I’ and ‘Miller’s Crossing’ which for me, compete for the best dialogue ever.
MT: What is next for you? A new film?
RS: I’m a professional screenwriter so I am often working on a range of movies – even if I am not directing them myself. I have an animated feature called ‘The Queen’s Corgi’ currently in production which will come out in cinemas next year. I also finished the fourth draft of my original screenplay ‘Village Idiot’ for Aardman Animation in December, which I’m hoping will be green lit this Spring. As for films for me to direct, I have a feature screenplay of my award winning short ‘Rise of the Appliances’ which I am hoping to shoot this year (once we close the finance) with Christian Parton, the producer of Man’s Best Friend.
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.