POTTERO played to rave reviews at the December 2021 WILDsound Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I decided to make this film as a way to process my grief after the death of my uncle, who I was very close with. I was trying to find answers to an unanswerable question- Why would someone kill themself? This led me down a path of examining some social political issues around access to healthcare in rural communities. My Uncle had severe asthma but no health insurance and so he self medicated. This is a common story in Appalachia and other communities in this country. The grief process was also filled with fun memories, too. One of which is the story of the Pottero, our family monster. I realized there was a connection with a lot of these themes, and so I decided I’d animate this film as a way of talking about some of these heavy issues!
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
This film took about three years to make. The project has a massive workflow that includes hand drawing photos, scanning, digitally rigging and building the images, applying movement, and then sound. I also started a new job at the same time and worked remotely with my collaborators which slows down the process.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
It was difficult animating some of my own grief. It takes a painstaking amount of time to create the scenes of my uncle’s suicide, and there were days I’d be designing the sound of the opening scene and just have to walk away. I knew it would be difficult, but I also think animating this event helped me process. I also decided to try a technique called a parallax scroll, and couldn’t find any tech specs on how to do it, so I I spent a lot of time figuring that part out. It was super fun, but really difficult to make it work. It was worth it though.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was blown away! With COVID 19, I’m not traveling to many festivals and missing the reactions of audiences. To hear your amazing team pick up on some of these details reinforces the desire to create work like Pottero. One commenter mentioned Shel Silverstein, which I didn’t even think of but LOVED his work as a kid. That made my whole day. Everyone had really insightful thoughts about the film.
Watch the Audience Feedback Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I decided to make the film in Spring of 2019. a few months after my Uncle killed himself. I had some time to think and reflect on his journey and my own journey. I had also been working with on a community project called The Appalachian Recovery Project through the Ohio Valley Center for Collaborative Arts . I’ve been doing animation workshops with women in active recovery as a way for them to talk about their own “monsters” through various techniques like stop motion, collage, and drawing on iPads. They have some incredible stories and have created extremely powerful animated images to share with the world and really responded to my own story. I see a lot of myself and my family in them.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
What a great questions. Probably Raising Arizona. It’s a perfect film.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I’d love to have live feedback and interact with commenters. I miss that social connection of speaking with an audience right after they watch a film!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Great! So easy.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Probably a pineapple pizza. Controversial, I know.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Yes! I have a feature screenplay called Little Wilderness that is going into development about a 17 year old girl and her Mom dealing with some of the same issues as Pottero just after the 2014 Elk River chemical spills in West Virginia. I’m also in the research phase of creating an animated “illuminated manuscript” of Appalachian folklore. That’s going to be a huge project, but I can’t wait to get it going.