The struggle for water has never been this animated!
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Catya Plate
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you Carmela! "Meeting MacGuffin" is the second installment in a trilogy of stop-motion animated shorts. It is an animated ecological thriller that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has fallen apart and where a group of scientists, called the "Clothespin Freaks", and an animated sign complete the construction of a new human race and meet a groundhog climatologist who prepares them for their mission to restore balance to the decimated Earth.
I have been working in sculpture, painting, drawing, artist books, and installation art all my life. Living in a world that is obsessed with technology and immortality, I have always felt the urge to produce work that reclaims the use of once feminized materials, like thread and fabric, and that casts a particular focus on conventional domestic and low-tech items such as clothespins. In my sculptures, installations, paintings, and drawings, I’ve been relating these materials to concepts such as mortality, ambiguity, transformation and vulnerability to talk about the ephemeral nature of existence, questioning certain aspects of the human condition.
All these concepts and materials re-appear in my animated films within the context of a larger fabricated universe. This futuristic universe is inhabited by ‘Clothespin Freaks’, two-headed humanoid figures made of clear clothespins and sewn pieces. With the help of other invented creatures, this smart and kind mutation is commissioned to fix a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has fallen apart. I invented the Clothespin Freaks in 2003 in a series of drawings, collectively called the Clothespin Tarot Drawings. These unlikely heroes create, in a serio-comic way, a new mythology that serves as a coping mechanism in our angst-ridden times. These whimsical Clothespin Freaks are other-worldly scientists whose mission is to construct a new form of humanity.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think that you should watch "Meeting MacGuffin" because it talks about our contemporary world and its serious environmental issues in a playful, imaginative, insightful, original and non-preachy way.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Living in a world that is obsessed with technology and immortality, I have always felt the urge to produce work that reclaims the use of once feminized materials, like thread and fabric, and that casts a particular focus on conventional domestic and low-tech items such as clothespins.
In my projects I’ve been relating these materials to concepts such as mortality, ambiguity, transformation and vulnerability to talk about the ephemeral nature of existence, questioning certain aspects of the human condition. All these concepts and materials re-appear in my animated films within the context of a larger fabricated universe.
In 2003, I witnessed the Clothespin Freaks slowly coming to life in a series of 78 drawings collectively called “Clothespin Tarot Drawings”, and realized that these small, freakishly funny-looking characters had many more adventures ahead of them. In fact, I felt that being at the center of a new mythology would give them the potential to comment on our angst-ridden times in a serio-comic way.
I was eager to find out how the Clothespin Freak would evolve and transform through a different medium. How would its appearance and evolution in a particular medium influence its representation in other media? Based on the “Clothespin Tarot Drawings”, I produced a limited edition, 87-page “Clothespin Tarot Artist Book” in which the Clothespin Freaks share partly-serious, partly-whimsical advice. The exploration of media for the Clothespin Freaks culminated a few years later in an award-winning first stop-motion animated film, The Reading (2011).
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The screenplay for "Meeting MacGuffin" didn't change at its core but it went through a lot of adjustments during pre-production and also through production; sometimes the words in the script just didn't match the actions of the puppets in certain scenes. Sets needed to be modified, new characters had to be included, and every little detail had to have meaning and had to make sense in the overall story. Also, in stop-motion animation you edit your film as you go and as you complete each sequence because everything takes a very long time to get it right; it's not like working on a live action film where you take all this footage and then edit it down in post-production.
The nature of the beast with stop-motion animation is that everything takes a long time to prepare and build. The better you prepare the better it turns out at the end—but it's organic and you have to stay open to changing things for the sake of the story. In essence, through the process of production, I had to add more characters and new sequences, create new sets, and shorten and change dialogues until I was happy with the results and the final cut was tight and concise.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So far, the feedback for "Meeting MacGuffin" has been absolutely amazing and I couldn't be happier! "Meeting MacGuffin" is currently making the rounds in the International Film Festival circuit. I just came back from Los Angeles where it screened at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood at HollyShorts, the Academy Awards Qualifying film festival--nothing beats the excitement of seeing your film on a huge screen in the most beautiful cinema ever! "Meeting MacGuffin" also just won BEST SHORT in the Best International Short Film category at ANIMAZE- International Animation Festival in Montreal, Canada. It also won BEST ANIMATED FILM in Seattle at the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival and was awarded BEST WRITING at BOOM!Film Reviews where it also received a wonderful review.
It will travel next to the prestigious annual Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival/Vortex Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror sidebar in October. After that it will screen at Cucalorus Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina, which for three years in a row has been voted "One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2015" by Moviemaker Magazine. And there is more to come!
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
So far, the feedback has been great without being particularly surprising or challenging my point of view. But it's always great to hear people's personal takes on the film. Some people have observed that "Meeting MacGuffin" lends itself very well as a series or web episode, which I find very intriguing. "Meeting MacGuffin" is conceptually a very layered piece and it makes me happy to hear how many different ways there are for viewers to enter its universe and to enjoy its story, message and particular characters.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I'm very thankful for the opportunity to share my film "Meeting MacGuffin", its personal and universal vision on this great platform that is www.wearemovingstories.com
It is very important for me to share "Meeting MacGuffin" with an audience as diverse and as large as possible. As its visibility grows, I hope to achieve that "Meeting MacGuffin" will enchant, entertain, enlighten and educate even more people. I hope that "Meeting MacGuffin" will continue to attract more industry professionals and environmental advocacy groups who will want to promote and sponsor not only this film but also my upcoming films and art projects and that it will foster the necessary support for me as a woman filmmaker and artist with a unique voice.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
While "Meeting MacGuffin" is making its rounds in the film festival circuit I've started working on the story and script for "Las Nogas", the third installment in the stop-motion trilogy. I'm actively looking for co-production opportunities and grants to finance this upcoming project. I've funded "Meeting MacGuffin" through a crowdfunding platform called "Hatchfund" and through the sale of my artwork to collectors. I'm also talking to a short film sales agency about my two first films ("The Reading", "Hanging By A Thread") that represents high-quality short films for placement on Broadcast Television and streaming apps--which is very exciting!
Journalists are very important as they help to get the word out about your films. I'm happy that I've already gotten a lot of exposure, in live interviews and on print like "Directed By Women","BOOM! Film Reviews", etc. but the more the better. Film festival directors are integral for one's success as a filmmaker. The ones that really support you will become like your family. They will assist and help you as you grow and develop as a filmmaker. I'm lucky that I can call more than a few film festival directors my family; but, again, the more film festival directors come on board, the better.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
At the heart of "Meeting MacGuffin" and the entire film trilogy is a concern with the natural environment and the place of humans within it. It would be great if "Meeting MacGuffin" was able to open people's eyes, making them aware of how our human behavior has impacted our environment and our planet.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
The understanding and acceptance that Climate Change exists is at the heart of "Meeting MacGuffin". But not everybody agrees--so I think that "Meeting MacGuffin" could spark an interesting debate about man-made global warming.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’ve started working on developing the story and writing the script for "Las Nogas", the final installment in the trilogy of stop-motion animated shorts that take place in the post-apocalyptic future.
"Las Nogas" continues where "Meeting MacGuffin" ends: the Homeys follow the Clothespin Freaks and Hitch to their new home, an experimental city called Las Nogas. There they meet the generous, hardworking Bee People, who know that the Homeys special “blood” is vital for the renewal of water. But before the Bee People can experiment on the Homeys' blood to make it work, the Homeys fall gravely ill, which jeopardizes the renewal of water and the survival of all species. Hitch flies home to his wife Alma, who may know the reason for the Homeys sickness and the cure for it. In addition to returning characters like Gormal and Pinki, a few new characters including a bat and some featherless albino chickens will join the cast of "Las Nogas".
After "Las Nogas", I plan to make my first feature-length, stop-motion animated film! The trilogy will have left open a few loose ends, intentionally, and the feature will fill the gaps and expand on the overall meaning and symbolism of this futuristic mythological tale.
Interview: August 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
THE STRUGGLE FOR WATER HAS NEVER BEEN THIS ANIMATED!
Director: Catya Plate
Producer: Catya Plate, Todd Aven
Writer: Catya Plate
About the writer, director and producer:
Catya Plate, born in Barcelona, Spain, raised in Köln, Germany, is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. She earned her BFA for Fine Arts in Germany before coming to New York in 1987 through a Fulbright Scholarship. In 2009, she created Clothespin Freak Productions to bring her “Clothespin Freaks” characters to life through multi-award winning stop-motion animated short films. As of 2017, she has produced, directed and animated three short films ("The Reading", "Hanging By A Thread', "Meeting MacGuffin") and produced "Speaking Of Freaks", a short documentary about the making of "Meeting MacGuffin" directed by Hamad Altourah.
Key cast: Richard Horvitz, Misty Lee, John McBride
Music Composition: Zac Zinger (in conjunction with Unleaded Music)
Sound Design/Foley: Matt Davies, Jaime Horrigan, Rich Bussey, Kevin Hill
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Where can I see it in the next month? In October at the Vortex Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival, the genre sidebar of the Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival.