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Take 5 with “Sausage”

We’ve asked the filmmakers for the 11th annual Oxford Film Festival the same five questions. Meet Robert Grieves, director of Sausage. This film will be screening Friday, February 7 at 12:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m.

#1: In 140 characters or less, describe your movie and why someone should see it.

Sausage is a multi award winning retro animated short that employs boundless humour and action to explore issues of food ethics. The idyllic market square of two artisan stallholders is invaded by a slick fastfood vendor. What methods must these traditional providores invent to battle for their livelihoods? The turf war brings them together through one truly original idea, embracing darker and suggestive humour to deliver the winning blow. Kids everywhere love the cheeky humour, and parents can read a little deeper into the politics and double entendres.

#2: Biggest lesson learned in getting the film made? Best part in getting the film made?

That the whole think was far harder to achieve than I ever imagined, and took 10 times as long! There was so much I tackled on ‘Sausage’ that was done with the intent of growing as a film maker. Having come from a motion graphic background, I initially expected character animation to be my biggest hurdle in a traditional cartoon like this, but the biggest challenge by far was storytelling. In the initial stages I received essential advice from script writer friends who helped me shape things! But the main contributor was Simon Williams, a professional storyboarder who showed me the finer points of storytelling (not a quick lesson). What I learned from him was a Masters course in itself. As well as the education I now have a film that I love and that I’m touring the world with, so a journey worth taking!

#3: Tell us about you. What is your movie making background?

I’ve made a couple of animated shorts that did well in a few festivals about 8 years ago, but they were the 2 minute experimental kind indicative of a students first projects. I did a ‘Digital Moving Image’ Masters at London Guildhall, after which I threw myself into a career as a motion designer for broadcast channels etc. It’s is a great job that ttaught me loads, but not the best way to express ones self. So over 5 years ago I started looking around for a personal project I could hang my hat on, and that ended up being ‘Sausage’.

#4 What do you want the Oxford Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title or description?

The film holds a couple of surprises, as you’d hope. And there’s one big punch line that I’m always trying not to give away in the marketing of the film, so I’m certainly not going to offer a plot spoiler now! But something that’s been interesting for me along the way is the social political message that grew with the story, and how every viewer choses to engage with it (or not). One magazine actually said ‘a wry look at the cut-throat world of capitalist consumerism’, where as other audiences just see a cheeky kids cartoon with some smut thrown in for the adults. I’m too close to it to know what it is, but all of the above would suit me fine!

#5: What does the future hold in store for your film and for you?

Good question. The film was a way of addressing my future, and hopefully building me one. I’ve currently a pretty heathy career as motion designer, but if feels like that could be taken away by a drift in trends or technology at any moment. Too often I’m a technician, and I want to be seen as a director with a specific voice. Not just to pamper my ego (well not too much), but I feel a career built on my own brand of creativity rather than transient skills will last longer and make me happier. It’s like the heroes in ‘Sausage’, they create businesses they believe in, then only succeed against the villain by staying true to their vision. (by the way, if you ever make a film be prepared for drawing as many metaphors as possible from your film in daily life. I guess it must help justify all the time spent making it, but painful for everyone around you!)

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