Graduation Countdown: Tess Martin

Poster for The Lost Mariner designed by Giacomo Boffo

Poster for The Lost Mariner designed by Giacomo Boffo

Hello there!
My name is Tess Martin and I’m here to introduce myself and give you a sneak peek into my graduation project, The Lost Mariner.

I stumbled onto animation during my Fine Art Bachelors at the University of Brighton in the UK. I fell in love and never looked back, and kept making independent short films for about five years after moving to the great city of Seattle, USA.

I decided to return to Europe for my Masters and have had a great time deepening my digital skills (I pretty much made exclusively stop-motion or frame by frame films before this) and expanding my freelance side. For my graduation film, however, I decided to go back to my true love, hand made films.

The Lost Mariner is based on an Oliver Sacks case study that you can find in his excellent book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and is about patient Jimmie G, who suffers from a rare memory disorder. I have always been interested in the mind, and the patients that Dr. Sacks describes are great examples of how our own sanity is balanced on a knife’s edge. Jimmie G’s memory problems were, I felt, a good entry into this arena.

When embarking on a project I think very hard about the technique to use to tell the story. In this case I decided to use the concept of photographs, so crucial in how we retain and symbolize memories, as the basis of the storytelling, resulting in what I would call a ‘photo cutout’ technique.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

I had used cut-outs before, in fact, almost exclusively the first few years of filmmaking (see A Moment’s Reverie and Plain Face). But I had never used cut-outs quite in this way. Because Jimmie’s condition gives him a unique view on reality I felt it was important to use photos of real actors instead of designed characters. Photos of these actors were then printed and re-animated in a flat photo cut-out universe. The contrast between the real actors’ faces and movements and the flat universe in which they live provides a nice analogy to what it might be like to see the world through Jimmie’s eyes. It’s almost real, but not real.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

It was a really fun way to make a film! Even though, yes, it involved a lot of scissors work. See below the trailer and the Making Of video which might give you a better idea of how the film was made.

I am also super happy to have gotten the chance to work with these talented actors, as well as Thijs van Gasteren (cameraman for the live action shoot), Jason Staczek (super talented composer I can’t believe I get to work with), and Production House Media (excellent sound design). Also I want to thank Warren Etheredge, Brad Hutchinson and also Lindy Boustedt for their invaluable feedback, and Giacomo Boffo for lending his design talents to the poster.

Still from The Lost Mariner

Still from The Lost Mariner

At the exhibition you will be able to see the actual piles of cut-outs used in the film, as well as the two other films I made during my Master: a one minute animation addressing the problem of racism and gun violence in America called One Night in Florida, and a memory-map project called Breda on My Mind where participants were asked to draw a giant map of Breda collaboratively, from memory.

I hope to see you at the August 28th opening!  More information can be found on the St Joost website, and the Facebook event.

The Lost Mariner – Trailer from Tess Martin on Vimeo.

The Lost Mariner – Making Of from Tess Martin on Vimeo.

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