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DCA Film Club Week 17: Creature Comforts

#DCAFilmClub

24 July 2020

Welcome back to Film Club! We'll be recommending great films to watch at home, before meeting in our Facebook group or your preferred social media to chat about the film using #DCAFilmClub!

DCA Film Club sees our Cinema Team talk about our favourite filmmakers by looking at their short films. We hope they will inspire you to go off and watch something else, be it online or at a cinema near you (when it reopens of course). You can read our Head of Cinema Alice's full introduction to DCA Film Club here.

This week, Michael has chosen 1989 short Creature Comforts by Nick Park. Read on for Michael's introduction, then watch the film for free on Youtube. Enjoy!

Animator/writer/director Nick Park’s films have given us some of the most recognisable characters in British pop culture, with films like Chicken Run, Early Man, and of course, the adventures of Wallace and Gromit delighting children and adults alike for over 30 years. Park’s use of Claymation has a tactile, distinctly hand-crafted appeal, and his humorous, gently satirical reflections of British life have become a hallmark of his work. Today’s pick, 1989’s Creature Comforts, was Park’s first completed short film as director, and has since spawned television series here and in the US, as well as becoming the basis for a collection of long-running adverts, but this original short is still just as funny, charming and inspired as it was when it was first released.

"Funny, charming and inspired..."

Growing up in Lancashire, Park was a quiet, creative child (he says he sees his own quiet thoughtfulness reflected in his favourite creation, Gromit) and loved drawing. He was a huge fan of The Beano and used to dream about oneday being able to make a career drawing cartoons for the comic. He was also an early experimenter with his parents’ home cameras, making short films and animations from as young as 13 years old. His interest in filmmaking led him to study animation at the National Film and Television School, and it was here that he started work on creating Wallace and Gromit, although the first short wouldn’t be finished until he joined the ranks of Aardman Animations in Bristol, where he still works today. That first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out, was released the same year as today’s short film, and remarkably, both were nominated for The Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1990, with Creature Comforts ultimately winning.

"The film is based on real interviews..."

While at Aardman, Park was asked to contribute a piece to Lip Synch, a new series of animated conversations for Channel 4. Park’s resulting film was Creature Comforts. The film is based on real interviews with people in residential care homes, housing estates or in the case of the wonderfully exasperated jaguar, a Brazilian student living in the UK. Crucially, the film doesn’t make fun of the interviewees and there’s a real empathy in the way that Park has taken these interviews and breathed new life into them. The result is filmic alchemy: hilarious, clever, insightful and, at a time where we have all been spending more time than ever indoors, strangely prescient.

Join us to chat about Creature Comforts in our DCA Film Club Facebook group on Tuesday 28 July at 13:00, or on your preferred social media using #DCAFilmClub. Feel free to share your thoughts and impressions with us at any time, along with your own must-watch movie tips - we'd love to hear from you!

Further reading and video links

As well as the link to the original short film, the Creature Comforts YouTube channel has both series of the UK version of the show in their entirety, as well as some brilliant behind the scenes clips. The People Behind the Puppets - Behind the Scenes of Creature Comforts is a particular highlight as it includes footage of the real interviews used for the series. 

The Wallace and Gromit website has a nice overview of Park’s career (including a great interview where Park answers 20 questions from fans, in celebration of Wallace and Gromit’s 20th birthday), but it’s well worth exploring the rest of the website as well.

Likewise, the Aardman website is great, and there’s plenty to look at. 

This is a great playlist of ‘Aardocs’ – short clips looking back over some iconic moments in the studio’s 40 year history.

Aardman's YouTube channel is well worth exploring too, as well as trailers for their latest films, there are behind the scenes clips, and they’ve been keeping busy setting creative challenges for kids to get involved in during lockdown. Here’s co-founder Peter Lord talking about some of his favourite entries to their Stop Motion Animation Challenge.

In addition to the traditional Aardman channel, there’s also the Aardboiled channel, which is described as “a platform for original, offbeat animated comedy, curated by Aardman”.  Be warned, there are some adult themes and language in some of the clips, but Michael thoroughly recommends the Weirdy Rhymes series – in particular the hilarious Plump Little Fussock.

A discussion from the BFI where Nick Park talks about Early Man

An interview with Nick Park and Jane Horrocks about the continuing appeal of Chicken Run from this earlier this year.

An interview with Park for the Independent from 1993.

Adam Savage’s YouTube channel also has a few videos where he meets with the folk (and puppets) from Aardman, the two videos below are highlights:

Adam Savage Meets Aardman Animations' Puppets!

The Stop-Motion Puppets of Aardman Animations!

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