Good Morning Lovelies, 

Now with all the excitement we have had today already lovelies, I wanted to share with you all the brand new film ‘Cumulus’, which looks absolutely stunning lovelies! 

Created by a close friend of mine and an amazing team including director Ioan Holland, animator Ryan Lancaster and background illustrator Merle Hunt, the film looks amazing lovelies and is sure to be a huge hit when it is released later in the year. 

I am so in love with it already lovelies in fact, because it looks so much like the beautiful pieces you get from Studio Ghibli and I have a lot of faith that it is going to be as successful. So when I was kindly offered the chance to interview some of the team behind the film I jumped at the chance. 

Starting with the background animator, Merle Hunt, who spoke to me about the film and her work on it…

Firstly how did you find out about the film Cumulus and what was it about this film that made you want to work on it? 
I found out about the project through the director, Ioan, who approached me on an excellent site for artists, Ideas Tap, which has sadly closed down now. He was looking for a background artist and had seen my work on my Ideas Tap portfolio. It’s funny because I’d never rated my backgrounds very highly on my list of skills as an artist but I do splodgy watercolour quite well and I think that’s what Ioan liked. Anyway, I was initially very flattered to be asked so agreed to meet and find out more and after that I was definitely on board. The images I went home with after that first meeting were so intriguing: misty beaches, strange cloud forests…and I was keen to challenge myself. The story also resonated; personally I liked the brave and adventurous female character at the heart of the tale, and in a broader context, the central message of acceptance felt like an important one for today.  

If you were to explain to someone for the first time what the film was about, what would you say?
A young girl struggling to stay within the protective bounds set by her anxious father, finds herself on an adventure with a grumpy talking bird through a watery cloud forest. Ultimately, she stays true to her plucky spirit but also learns to see things from a new perspective. I hope that’s enough to fascinate; I don’t want to give it all away! 

When you were creating the characters and backgrounds, was there an idea/image in your head of what you wanted or did you have a brief in which you followed to get the right image?
Obviously it’s important for me to be able to visualise something before I commit to paper (well, maybe not obviously but that’s how I work best) so I had some ideas before I started but for this project, Ioan really has a very strong vision for the overall look so it’s been a case of finding a way to achieve that. 

There is something very beautiful about this film that makes it a bit like Studio Ghibli and Pixar related, how much influence did the look of other films impact how you wanted Cumulus to look?
While studying illustration at university, it was deemed important “research” to watch all the new Pixar films that came out and to join the anime film club! So when I came on board I was aware of these possible influences and in the end Studio Ghibli’s animations have been good inspiration for me, to achieve the look Ioan wanted. I think particularly the dream-like quality of many Studio Ghibli films has been a big influence. 

The film is currently working on entering a number of film festivals, what do you hope audiences and judges will see when they look at this film? 
I hope people will appreciate the subtlety of this film. I hope people will fall in love with its quiet charm. I hope people will see the attention to detail and quality that has been one of the most important things in the making of this animation. 

How did you feel when you saw your vision on screen for the first time? Do you hope that others feel this to when they see the film for the first time?
I’m expecting to feel very proud, maybe a little emotional! And extremely pleased with the final outcome. However, I haven’t actually seen anything of it yet, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one! 

The film is all about appreciating people around you, who do you appreciate for helping you while making this film?
That’s a good question. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity Ioan gave me to work on this animation in the first place and Gloria, our produce’s motivational and upbeat messages, keeping us all on track! I also appreciated Alison, on character design, generously sharing her studio space with me on several occasions. Oh dear, this is beginning to sound like an Oscars acceptance speech! Stop me before the music starts!  

Finally are you working on anything else at the moment or future projects? If so can you tell us about it?
I’m working on a broad range at the moment, thanks for asking. I have a business plan I’m working on to launch an online shop on my website, selling cards and prints (which you can already purchase) as well as second hand china that I’m upcycling with image transfers. If people like the look of Cumulus, they might also like this project as it’s all about storytelling and fairy tales. I’ve also just completed part of the set design for a play of “The Taylor of Gloucester” by Beatrix Potter. The company (Award winning Pericles Theatre Company and Atelier Community Theatre) work with adults with learning difficulties and will be performing at this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival, so come along to that if you can, it’s magical. Finally, check out the blog I share with my sister called The Inky Fingers where we’re documenting our progress collaborating on an illustrated novel about the sea and time travel.

Throughout the week lovelies I will be unveiling even more interviews with the team to celebrate such an incredible piece and I hope you all enjoy them! I will be sharing more and more with you as I find out lovelies! 

Blog Soon, 
Joey X

To keep up to date with all the latest news from the blog, follow it on Twitter @LetsStartNow18 :)

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