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Gloam

A short film about a wandering forest creature who encounters something strange with only curiosity to lead the way. I wrote and directed the short, as well as composed the score. Animated by David Elwell.

Backstory

2011. A friend of mine David Elwell, who has gone on to work for MPC, dNeg, and now ILM, wanted to break into the VFX industry with a short film instead of a showreel. I, on the other hand, wanted to make a piece or work which treaded new creative ground and tells a story.

We jumped into this project with no experience in filmmaking or animation. Powered by passion and buckets of naivety. So it went on to become a huge eleven month learning curve and one of the projects I’m most proud of.

Concept

Because we had never attempted film or animation before, I kept the story simple and open enough for viewers to cast their own meanings. Which seemed to pay off with the audience Gloam gathered.

Role

I wrote the concept and story over a few weeks by listening to moody ambient music in darkness – strange, but it seemed to help. I had a clear direction in mind for the mood of the film which set the ball rolling for the character. The character was created between us by sending sketches back and forth and developing further in 3D. We worked most of the time over Messenger and shared a project folder, but some weekends we would make the effort to work in the same room.

Filming occurred during the winter months in the North of England at Beacon Fell. Using a 600D we divided the filming between us. Although, I spent most of the time acting as a dummy for the character.

Throughout the process I directed the short. Removing what didn’t need to be animated, how the character should move and the emotions a viewer should feel throughout the story.

Composing the score

Around five months into the project the topic of music arose. We knew we wanted something original, but didn’t know any composers at the time. So it seemed fitting in this project of brave naivety to take on the soundtrack myself, with zero previous music experience beyond a GCSE. After three months of learning various programs, writing dozens of melodies and creating all sorts of strange atmospheric drones, it was finished and ready to add to the film.

Release

Originally intended as a showcase piece, within a few hours after uploading, Gloam was given a Vimeo Staff Pick award, featured on the homepage and received over 100,000 views in the first month. We still don't believe it.

Press

“A beautifully crafted short”
The Atlantic

“A great example of how two very talented guys with no money can go out and make something that's absolutely fantastic.”
Film Riot

“My class loved Gloam so much they wrote their own versions!”
Mr Wyatt, Primary School Teacher