Animator Bianca Ansems is currently winning all the awards for her MA graduation film Playing Ghost.
Fresh out of the UK’s National Film & Television School (NFTS) with an MA in Animation Direction, Bianca Ansems’ graduation film Playing Ghost has already won numerous awards including the Grand Jury Award at Hollywood Student Film Festival and Best Animation at Student Film Festival London.
Playing Ghost is the story of a mother whose loss of her husband leads her to neglect her daughter who plays in her own world unconscious of death and its dangers.
What were your inspirations for Playing Ghost?
“Someone told me about an actress who lost her father at the age of four and started playing funerals with her dolls. It is understood that young children don't always grasp death to its full extent, but what struck me most was how nobody really caught on to what was happening. Overall, I didn't want to make just another happy, fast-paced, child-friendly animation. I wanted to tell a gentle, emotional story - and chose to do it through puppets. People sometimes ask me why I didn't do it with real actors. Of course, there is nothing in the film that couldn't be done with real actors, but thanks to the puppets you wave over boundaries that would normally be held up. For example, I think the audience would be too upset to go along with me easily into the next section of the film after I let a real child get stuck in a chest freezer...”
Which is the shot/section you are most proud of and why?
“Oh dear! I never thought of this properly... There are a few shots that I am proud of for one reason or another. I love a few shots of the underwater scene and my favourite section would be the kitchen at night, because of the energy of the child.
“But the shot I'm most proud of may have to be the shot where the mother drags the dad's slipper over. It was an idea of the screenwriter. I wasn't sure whether it would translate well from paper to screen, particularly because I framed it to be just the foot. It was going to be a functional shot and I thought the surrounding shots would give the emotion. But in the end this one shot kind of says enough - the foot withdraws briefly, hesitating, before sinking in the slipper. I hand-animated the camera too and am pleased with the smooth result. People often say it's this shot in the film that hits home: the dad is dead.”
Do you think there is a difference between studying film in the UK and in the Netherlands? Do people work differently?
“Yes. As much as I love the Netherlands and wouldn't trade my Dutch education for anything in the world, there is just a bit more professionalism in the UK film industry in general. I'm not saying the Dutch film industry is not professional or good… but in the UK, particularly in London, we are at one of the main centres of world cinema - and you notice this. Even if you are not fully in it, you are continuously surrounded by people who work at the highest standard and it makes you feel like you still have so much to go for - big goals just seem more achievable…In the Netherlands I felt it was all a bit more held back, and not rolling at its full potential.”
What projects do you have coming up?
I'm currently working on a fun little animation for one of the Royal Heritage Gardens. There are one or two projects I can't talk about yet, but in April I'm going to Germany as part of the Animation Exchange Forum at the Dresden Film Festival, which will allow me to develop my new ideas, learn new skills, and meet other talented filmmakers.”
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