internet claymation sensation lee harcastle, discusses hamster abuse & extolls the virtues of plagiarism ...
see lee’s selection.
i'm from leeds. my dayjob is to make clay-mations for youtube.
i don't have any money, so i do it as cheap as possible working by myself.
after watching stuff like you've been framed when i was young, i started wanting to make films.
i bought a new child's tyco video camera for £20 when i was 12, it took 6 batteries and hooked up into your VCR. you couldn't focus it but it was amazing. i did stop-motion with it; i used to press record and play on the vcr and then pause, and when i'd press the pause button it'd record about half a second. you'd end up with this vhs glitchy kind of stop-motion.
i have one film on vhs still. it's me and my hamster, and the story is the hamster gets out of its hamster ball and i use this camera trickery where i press pause and remove the hamster, then put a teddy bear in the way, then stab it with a knife, and then, after i've finished stabbing it, i press pause, put the hamster back and start recording again. it looks fake as hell. [watch it exclusively here]
i did everything i could to care for my hamster. we used to spend a lot of time together and i used to build big boxes and houses for it to live in.
i had a couple of friends at school with hamsters only they were doing things that you shouldn't be doing to hamsters. i found it a bit upsetting and that's where my recent hamster hell claymation series comes from. someone told me they wanted the hamster to experience g-force - when you're 12, you have these sort of conversations -so in one episode the kid puts a hamster in a sock and swings it around.
for the first straight 8 that i made, i had to do a lot of research: the exposure, focussing, frame-rate, those kind of things were really new to me. i bought a camera off ebay for about £6 and i remember sweating intensively out of every pore in my body. i was just a wreck, filming it. i was shaking because of the thought of anything going wrong. when i decided to invest that £60 in entering it was really important that i wasn't going to blow it.
the film didn't turn out very good from a technical perspective, but it was alright and could have been a lot worse!
a zombie claymation was a whole different ballgame because i knew what i was doing, and that's when i got the big bad-boy, the nizo 801. i kinda feel like i cheated a bit - i don't feel like it had the true spirit of what straight 8 is about. i was really confident, i knew exactly what i was doing, and i kinda knew what the results were going to be - i didn't really sweat about it.
i'd love to have another go, but if i did i wouldn't make another animation, i'd do it in the true spirit of straight 8 and do something a bit more ambitious. [ed: this is amazing to hear! 'a zombie claymation' is one of the greatest straight 8 achievements EVER]
i never get writers block or anything.
i might be watching desperate housewives and i'll just be like "oh, why don't i do a film about a bunch of girls who hate each other secretly, but they're really nice to each other's faces", or i'll be watching the terminator and i'll be like, "oh i'll do a film where there's robots killing each other." that's how i work, i just plagiarise basically.
i like to write feature films on the side, but that's tricky stuff - i write and write and write, then i look at it and it's just verbal crap. you can't get away with that in a feature. there's principles that need to be followed in the convention of story etc, it's more like a jigsaw puzzle, which is why i like to do a lot more short film stuff. for now
see more of lee's work at www.leehardcastle.com