Emma Lazenby’s “Mother of Many” from script to screen

        Category: Animators Blog | Article posted on: January 26, 2010

Mother of Many

Emma Lazenby’s film “Mother of Many” has just been nominated for a BAFTA in the Best Short Animation category. Emma has documented the making of her film in a fascinating blog called MoM written under the pen name of ElsieDarkwinter.

“Mother of Many” is based around the rhythms of a baby inside the womb and the rhythms and day to day routine of the midwife being calm and controlled – leading women through the most life-changing and challenging event of their lives. It was made using real recordings of childbirths and foetal heartbeats, combining painting on glass, hand drawn animation, Flash and After-Effects.

The blog starts back in March 2009 where we find Emma doing rewrites for her script. She writes; “I am having a lot of difficulty. I have written a script – first second and now on my third draft. It feels like I just rewrite the same script every time. It is changing slowly, but with the constant deadlines, I feel I have to keep finishing each script and never address any of the things that are bothering me. I just rush, panic, fluster and beat myself up a bit.”

Emma tells how she got the idea for the film; “The film is about midwifery, and is a celebration of my mum, who did this job for 30 years – delivering thousands of babies and a large percentage of the local population. I started thinking about it a year ago when she retired. It feels like an idea with some point, the point being to do a job with meaning.”

By the middle of April ‘09 the script is coming together. Emma writes; “…all the people (the funding ones) have said they are much happier with the new script (third draft) and I have been storyboarding roughly, doing some more work on design.”

Early May ’09 finds Emma working on her animatic. She says: “Animatics are nice – because you see the film, but not so nice, because the drawings are all so scrappy.”

By mid-May the animatic has been approved and Emma announces; “Today has been the start of making the film. I designed some pregnant women, made a list of things I have to do and how each scene works.”

In June ’09 Emma talks about the sound track. She has given her recording machine to an independent midwife in the hope of getting some authentic sound. She writes that she is “…waiting for women to pop who will let us record them grunting and screaming or just breathing calmly depending on how the births go.”

Emma Lazenby painting under camera (picture from MoM blog).

In July ’09 Emma has some animators working on her film but she wishes she could find the time to animate herself. She seems to be constantly on call to make decisions, emailing, talking and designing. She is determined to find a way; “This week I am in a little room away from email and everybody and everything – painting and playing under camera to make nice womb textures and contractions – it is lovely.”

By mid-September ’09 the film is nearing completion. Emma writes; “I am going to London tomorrow to help with the sound mix at Fonic. I am really looking forward to seeing it with proper sound instead of my cobbled together stuff.”

In late September the film is finally finished and Emma has mixed feelings. She writes; “I have no idea what I have made or what it looks like – if it is good or bad – whether I like it or not. I feel rather weird really but so excited. It is so odd to get to the end.”

The film’s BAFTA nomination is announced in January 2010 and Emma makes a blog post. She begins; “I am really quite shocked and it is only sinking in that my film has been nominated for a BAFTA. It is ridiculously exciting.”

You can read the full account of the making of “Mother of Many” in Emma Lazenby’s blog MoM.

Mother of Many by Emma Lazenby.

See the full list of BAFTA award nominations.

Postscript (23 Feb 2010): Congratulations to Emma Lazenby on winning the BAFTA Short Animation award for with Mother of Many.

Emma Lazenby interviewed on BAFTA Awards night.

4 thoughts on “Emma Lazenby’s “Mother of Many” from script to screen

  1. Emma

    This is funny – reading something taken completely from my blog. It was written for me to see my progression and was completely a secret for most of the time. It was a place for me to empty my brain.

    1. David Jefferson

      It is great to have your comment Emma. I think that because you were writing the blog for yourself, it comes over as a very personal account rather than someone trying to impress. I am sure it will be an inspiration to other animators trying to put a production together.

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