Time is a relative experience. We all know this. An hour at a bar with friends is a different experience from an hour in a packed, bumper-to-bumper commute. And as we grow older, time also seems to shift, as if the accumulation of time spent makes any additional increments seem miniscule by comparison.
The theme of time is explored in The Eagleman Stag, an award-winning short film by London-based filmmaker Mikey Please. It follows a man’s quest to understand time, and how time shifts, well, over time. And it ends with his discovery of the answer in a beetle known as the Eagleman Stag.
“The film came from this idea that bothered me as long as I can remember,” Please explained in an interview with Creators Project. “Time is sort of constantly changing. Since I was really a little kid, some holidays aren’t as long as they used to be.”
He toyed around with different ideas of exploring this issue, including a short story and a graphic novel. But ultimately he settled on animation, using a monochromatic landscape made from, as he describes, a “mysterious white material, not previously seen used in stopmotion animation, found in the back of a cushion.”
Completing the work was a heroic effort in efficiency combined with Please’s creative obsession. “Usually it’s a much longer project for one person to make a 9 minute stop motion film,” Please explained of the 5-month production period. He kept the process simple, not casting the work, and developed only the scenes he needed—“There was just one little scene that didn’t make it to the final cut.”
The result is stunning, visually, a perfect complement to the theme of time and memory, which is often blank, malleable and oddly experienced. The fishing scene, the gated landscape, the twirling mountaintop—they all speak to an amazing complexity, which contrasts sharply with the elegant, simple visuals.
“I’ll tell you a secret,” he noted, well aware that I would write about it. “One of the wonderful things about shooting white on white is that everything naturally refracts. Usually you need like twenty lights, but most of the shots are one or two lights.”
Please has released a delicious making-of video, revealing the details of the process and the questions he wanted to explore. The pans of the landscapes show the world behind the many beautiful scenes, but more importantly, it shows the creator’s own video diaries. We all know this experience, buried amidst work in the studio. That insomnia no doubt helped make the film so powerful.
“It was really intensive,” he said. “Double days, 16 hours, 7 days a week. I went totally crazy. I lost my mind. It was really good, something of that intensity.”
Love his work as much as I do? You can support Martyn Myller, Mikey Please’s next short film. He’s raising $15,000 on Indie Gogo, and the film looks to be as surreal and dreamlike as Eagleman Stag.