Hi! I saw your small film and I was wondering if you could provide background information to it? I really loved the style and animation and the ending left me feeling so shocked bc I did not expect it to end the way it did. (It was p sad)
Hi! I hope you don’t mind if I post this publicly, I’ve had a few questions like this so I’ll give you guys some background on how it was made/my original intention. If you’re interested, I’ve put a lot of my development work in this tag.
From very early on in my development process I wanted to do some kind of fairytale. I wanted it to be kind of spooky, kind of sad, and kinda contemplative. I love the fluid nature of folk tales and myths and lore, in that they represent generations of fear and wonder being passed on and on and changed to represent the natures of the people telling them. I also love how environment-based they are. Some of my favourite stories growing up were stories those where the environment itself was a powerful narrative force.
While looking for a fairytale to use as a baseline, I was recommended William Allingham’s ‘The Fairies’, which is where my title ended up coming from. I’d already been looking at stuff from Midsummer Night’s Dream and a favourite play of mine, ‘The Weir’, both of which alight on the topic of changelings, and it felt like a good place to start. Irish fairytales came up again and again, and it’s along those lines that I did the bulk of my research. Originally, my film was going to be majorly based on these lines:
They stole little Bridget/For seven years long;/When she came down again/Her friends were all gone./They took her lightly back,/Between the night and morrow/They thought that she was fast asleep,/But she was dead with sorrow./They have kept her ever since/Deep within the lake,/On a bed of flag-leaves,/Watching till she wake.
The little girl in my film was referred to as Bridget throughout my production process, to my mind she is a changeling child taken long before the setting of the film. Originally the story was going to be about a traveller haunted by a ghostly girl, and who eventually discovers her body, kept preserved in the woods by fairies for years. Fairies are a chaotic, natural force, they’re a living embodiment of the environment they’re conjured out of. To my mind they’re completely amoral, they have no understanding nor interest in the consequences of their actions, which is also a trait I associate with young children. Combining those two forces to make Bridget my antagonist felt like a better way to upset my audience’s idea of right and wrong. Ultimately, Bridget is not ill intended, she’s not trying to trick the mother, she’s not trying to kill the baby. What she wants is a friend, and she just happens to have supernatural forces at her disposal to make that happen.
I wanted the film to feel like a fairytale, but not disney. My style and mood references were Ivan Bilibin’s illustrations, Ghibli films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Frederick McCubbin’s paintings, and Over the Garden Wall. I wanted it to address the pervasive nature of storytelling, and how it can alter our choices and perspective (the innkeeper turning the mother away at the beginning is both foreshadowing and a comment on those who turn away the weak out of exaggerated, ignorant fear), and the inalienable power of natural forces over human beings. The mother is distraught and grief-stricken, but Bridget, and the fairies, and the forest, don’t care. She is nothing to these greater forces; her loss is completely senseless and awful and yet there is no greater evil to rail against. I don’t know if I achieved it, but I wanted the only malicious choice made in the whole film to be the innkeeper’s. The mother is a victim of natural forces, but she is first and foremost the victim of human indifference to her suffering. You cannot hold the fairies responsible for the death of her child any more than you could hold a drought responsible for the deaths of environmental refugees. Those to blame are those who saw people in need and did nothing, or worse; turned them away.
Anyway this has gotten too long. Ultimately: I love horror stories, and I love nature as a narrative force, and I love examining storytelling as a moral tool, and to me, old fairytales encompass all of that. I wanted to make a spooky film with spooky woods and a spooky ghost child and that’s what I DID.