A Devil on Each Shoulder started as a collaboration between the actor Nick Blood and filmmaker Ashley Dean and has now acquired eager cast of creatives from around the UK. The story will be told using a combination of live-action and stop-frame animation. The little devils, the actors and the world they inhabit will be animated, giving the film a look and feel that reflects the disjointed state of mind of our hero, Jefferson.
We need your help to complete this ambitious project. We are currently in pre-production and will begin shooting on the 14th of December. However, funding is integral; we have pulled many favours to get this far but we need to pay fees to some and also we have the important process of post production to finance.
We also believe crowdfunding will foster a passionate community and audience for the film, as well as provide us with an excuse to create some interesting merchandise!
Jefferson holds the crumpled letter from the woman he loves in his shaking hands. His loneliness reflected by the sparsity of his surroundings, a cold iron bed in a stark room, the stained walls and decaying furniture only add to depression that hangs in the air. This could be any time, any place, its a sort of Nowhere Land, neither modern or ancient, it’s just Jefferson and his thoughts.
He and Molly had met the previous summer after Jefferson took a holiday job by the coast. Despite his return home and the distance that now exists between them, they vowed to write every day until Jefferson saved up the money needed to return.
But the letters from Molly dried up and now Jefferson just has the vague promise, written in ink on the page before him, that the love of his life will ‘maintain a certain fidelity’…
And the words haunt him.
His despair is compounded by the disturbing presence of two little demonic creatures that accompany him; these little bastards are surely figments of his imaginations, the creations of a lonely and wretched mind? But they are there, in front of his eyes, tormenting him and forcing his focus on to their sordid suggestions about Molly’s behaviour in Jefferson’s absence.
It’s these little critters that plant the seeds of Jefferson’s destruction when he has a bright idea to get himself back into Molly’s arms.
However, Jefferson’s feelings may not be reciprocated and his fate is now out of his control…
A Devil on Each Shoulder is inspired by The Velvet Underground song The Gift, a spoken-word track from their seminal 1968 album White Light/White Heat.
A wonderfully efficient and intense story, John Cale’s original narration gives us a rich source material, dripping with atmosphere and bile. The bitterness of his delivery and the chaos and caterwaul of the soundtrack are a platform for us to build an equally anarchic piece, brought to life through deft performances, ingenious set design and the magic of stop-frame animation.
The early scenes with Jefferson must convey a sense of fragility, paranoia and longing, without dialogue, but surrounded a richly textured set and beautifully detailed props and costume. The use of the fascinating Temple Works complex in Holbeck, Leeds will be key to creating the right atmosphere. With its listed, crumbling walls and decades of degradation, the site will add a distinct flavour to the project.
Jefferson’s life has reached numb meaninglessness, in parallel with George Orwell’s half starved bum in Down and Out in Paris and London. It takes the appearance of two mischievous figments of his imagination, to drag him from his stupor into an accelerated and dangerous way of life.
These demons will be brought to life through stop-frame animation, the antique art of wired-up puppets, moved in minute, incremental motions. This technique will be combined with the process of ‘Pixilation’ another animation method which involves the incremental movement of the human body.
In a steamy dream sequence which introduces these characters, Jefferson will be animated suffering from an initially unseen nightmare, which will then manifest itself with the appearance of the devils, creeping up under the sheets. They summon the sexualised figure of Molly; the object of Jefferson’s desires and puppeteer her to toy with his emotions. This scene will be highly ambitious, with a team of animators manipulating the two actors and two puppets into a frenzy of motion. To compound the complexity of the shots, the animators will have to deal with lip syncing the actors in the midst of the maelstrom.
After waking from this tantalising and unsettling vision, Jefferson is ushered towards a new idea to return to Molly by the meddling devils. We shall shoot them and Jefferson separately, joining the narrative together in the edit, with occasional visual effects shots that will composite the two elements together. Their demeanor is primarily mischievous, but they have a drive and purpose for Jefferson. This section will be fast paced and light, the relationship between Jefferson and the Devils is comedic at times, from the ridiculousness of the situation and mild scenes of slapstick.
A major special effects shot leads us from Jefferson’s flat to Molly’s. The whole set comes alive through animation; Wallpaper peels from the wall, carpets roll up, the bed collapses and cabinets rotate.
In the new set, the character of Sally is introduced, alongside Molly, who is dressed a little less provocatively than before. The scene will be filmed quite freely through numerous cameras and takes to reflect a relaxed and friendly relationship.
The final, climactic scene will use dramatic visual effects created in the Broken Pixel studio to conclude this dark, stirring tale.
The colour palette will have three distinct phases. In Jefferson’s waking state, the room will be generously lit with yellow light, but a lot of the saturation will be drained in the grading process to create an air of gloom. This will be contrasted in the dream sequence which will be starkly lit in deep, cold blue. While Molly’s apartment will contrast this as a nice and bright, cozy environment.
Who We Are
Nick trained at LAMDA and has gone on to appear in various stage and screen roles. He has worked at the National Theatre and Royal Court, more recently taking the lead role in the West End production of Backbeat which will be performed at the renowned Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, in 2013.
He is perhaps best known for the role of Kieran in the successful comedy series Trollied, starring alongside Mark Addy and Jane Horrocks. Spring 2013 will see the release of his first film role in the widely anticipated Spike Island.
Nick’s devised theatre piece ‘Inches Apart’ won the prestigious Old Vic New Voices Award in 2009.
Ashley has been a director of music videos for the last 8 years. Covering a huge and diverse range of styles and subjects, he had led his Broken Pixel studio through a series of ambitious productions. From the rooftops of Belfast to the shivering cliff sides of the Yorkshire dales, via miniature constructed worlds involving the Antarctic, the mind of a Russian economist and paper towers to the Moon.
Ashley has worked with many great bands and labels, beginning his career as a projectionist and film-maker for the Leeds post-rock group iLiKETRAiNS, he went on to collaborate with artists from around the world including, Cashier No.9, Fossil Collective, Beth Orton, Laura J Martin and Buck 65.
Broken Pixel have forged immensely satisfying working relationships with Opera North, Green Man Festival and Aardman animations and in 2012, they worked on the immersive and ambitious ‘Overworlds and Underworlds’ project alongside the Brothers Quay as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Ashley has received Leeds Independent Music, Northern Irish Music, Aesthetica and Royal Television Society awards for his work and has been screened at numerous film festivals around the world.
Risks and challenges
When it comes to making short films, half of the problem is reaching an audience to view it! We hope that the crowdfunding campaign will assist us in creating a community from the start of the filmmaking process, allowing the project to gain some momentum as well as ensuring it reaches its audience.
We also would like to reward this audience with special, limited edition gifts from DVDs, EPs and Posters featuring exclusive artwork to individually created Jefferson puppets.
Each pledge will be posted to you in a specially designed envelope by the Compact Packing Company.
This project is by far the biggest I've worked on, in terms of crew size, ambitious and potential budget. I'm sure there will be a few problems here and there, but my job as Director is to solve them.
Working with a combination of actors, puppets and movable sets will create a unique series of potential problems. There is a possibility that our film will over run, and in this eventuality, we may have to re approach the shooting after Christmas. However, we've structured the days so that we can leave the animation sections until last, as they are the easiest to shoot with a Skelton crew...
Another problem we have envisaged is that such a huge crew of people working in an cold and decrepit environment, might get a bit demoralised. To combat this, we are creating a 'warm room' full of distractions and comfort for the crew to take a break in. We are hoping a table football tournament will form the basis of a DVD extra!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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