We’re delighted to launch our 2nd annual Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival with the on-line debut of Overcast made by James Lancett and Sean Weston at Kingston University. We chose the film for its elegantly simple visual concept, heartfelt character-driven storytelling, and striking marriage of animation and live-action setting.

James Lancett and Sean Weston

Here are some notes on the production of the film from the filmmakers James and Sean (pictured above):

An age old method of informing the audience that a cartoon character feels depressed or down hearted is to put a rain cloud above their head. But when you place this cartoon character into the real world, how would this ever looming cloud and never-ending rain would effect their every day lives? What would the drawbacks be? What are his feelings toward the cloud? Our aim for the animation was to explore this relationship between man and cloud as our dispirited protagonist makes his way through modern society.

We drew a lot of inspiration from Bill Murray’s character in Lost In Translation. The experience of being a fish out of water. We thought that because our cartoon character was essentially an outsider or an outcast, he would surely be depressed. Therefore a rain cloud would exist above his head as a symbol of this depression. This rain cloud is his hindrance as well as being his only companion. Born out of this thought was the idea to explore the relationship between this cartoon man and his cloud.

The production was a massive learning curve, mainly due to the live action elements of the film. We started filming in January and planned to finish by February, but due to the British weather we didn’t finish till the middle of March! So many hours were spent sitting in a windy London park waiting for the clouds to cooperate and give us some sunshine. How ironic!

Our next step was to animate the character, and after the filming this seemed simple and not weather-dependent. We animated the character frame by frame in Flash and composited in After Effects. This was a lengthy process but it paid off in the end when we finally saw the colored version of our character interacting with the places we knew so well. We originally both had cameos, but unfortunately they had to be cut to tighten up the film and keep it under the three minute time limit. Maybe we’ll release an uncut version in the future–Blade Runner style!

Looking back on the project it was an invaluable experience, we learned a lot about animation, story telling and working with each other as a production team. This gave us the skills and the confidence to make another short film at the same time called The Diver. We owe a lot to the course at Kingston University, which is a brilliant introduction into the world of animation. The tutors and other students were there every step of the way and helped us make decisions when we had become too close to the project. We now feel ready jump head first into the industry and we are looking forward to making another bigger, better and more ambitious film together in the future! Thanks for your time and we hope you enjoy Overcast.

Filmmaker Websites
James Lancett
Sean Weston

Cartoon Brew’s second annual Student Animation Festival is made possible through the generous support of Titmouse and JibJab.