David Prosser: Matter Fisher

David Prosser‘s short film, Matter Fisher, makes it’s online debut this week as the winner of Short of the Week‘s Great Film Competition. It’s a lovely mix of high-contrast frame animation and cg, in which a lone fisherman encounters an initially unassuming, hungry ball of matter.

Matter Fisher is the second film we’ve featured of the three Royal College of Art grad films that were honored with a 2011 BAFTA nomination in the Short Animation category (the other two being Matthias Hoegg‘s Thursday and Mikey Please‘s The Eagleman Stag). For more on these three talented dudes, check out the interviews at The Dope Sheet.

Please describe the origins of Matter Fisher.

Matter Fisher was a culmination of thoughts and an amounting frustration with inner city living. The film was a way for me to wade through the convolution of everyday life and gain some perspective on the distractions we encounter and an attempt to slow something down. It was also hugely cathartic to make a film mostly based at sea while living in London.

Since the Large Hadron Collider was switched on it seems that the public’s awareness of such absurdly complex physics has been heightened. This sparked an intrigue in me which led me to listen to countless podcasts on black holes, the singularity, and general unified theories of everything leaving me completely perplexed. All of this, blended together with countless 50’s sci-fi B-movies contributed to the skewed narrative of Matter Fisher.

The short stories of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics were also an original inspiration. His creation of fantastical and farcical worlds out of fundamental laws of nature provided me with an ideal catalyst for the parameters of a short story.

The ominous ‘matter ball’ was an extension of this thinking, its odd gravitational properties becoming a device which would playfully alter the path of a lone fisher. I wanted to create a narrative that was more in line with a formula, a film that consisted of many facets and is applicable to many ways of thinking, rather than harbour one succinct answer.

The setting and tone of the film was influenced by my childhood memories of Cornwall and an odd affinity with the ocean. I have hazy memories of collecting obscure rocks and artefacts washed up on shore, which never ceased to surprise me.

Can you talk a little bit about your composition choices and use of negative space? (no pun intended)

I originally trained as an illustrator and approached animation at the beginning of my MA at the Royal College of Art. These formative years of my undergraduate, where I focused on drawing design, and stripped down storytelling in the format of books and comics was a good grounding and has influenced a lot of my decisions within filmmaking.

My use of negative space was essentially my way of sidestepping animating the ocean, but the white void contributed to the surreal tone of the film. I was also playing with scale looking at the macro and micro and the relationship these bare to each other, this led me to play with dramatic changes in scale and compositions, often in a graphic manner.

What were some challenges about making the film?

Editing the film was a challenging process. I made my animatic in a relatively organic and fluid manner, which led to problems with editing in the production process. I had help editing and organizing sequences that communicated more directly and made for a stronger film. Good friends with opinions were crucial throughout production.

At an early stage I decided to animate all of the 2D elements with Photoshop’s animation program, this led to an arduous production with it not being as intuitive as Flash. However, it allowed me to retain a production method as close to animating on paper as possible.

How intimately did you work with the sound designer?

Joe Tate my sound designer and I worked back-to-back throughout the whole of production. I was lucky enough to be living with Joe throughout, which meant I could be incredibly pedantic at times which I’m sure he found frustrating!

Before production I had shown Joe the fantastic works of Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) and we had both been lucky enough to attend a Q&A with them at the RCA. I was particularly attracted to their playful approach and application of imagined sound design to alien environments. Joe’s immense talent as a foley artist and his attention to detail and high standards throughout helped to build the textural richness of this film.

We are still friends.

What are you up to now?

Since graduating from the RCA I have joined the London-based animation house Studio AKA, where I work as a Director/ Designer. I’m also continue to support London-based animation collective MOTH which we established after graduating, combining our keen interest in drawing where we continue are working on various commercial projects alongside charity work.

Director: David Prosser
Sound Design: Joe Tate
Assistant Animation: Eamonn O Neill, Gergely Wootsch
Mixed By: Nikola Zivojinovic
Mixed at: National Film and Television School
Production: Royal College of Art, 2010©
Running Time: 07’25”