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Prestwich student produces moving animation filled with tragedy

16 July 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

Ben takes inspiration from award winning animator

A local student has taken inspiration from an award winning animator to create his own stop-motion romantic tragedy that he has written, directed, filmed and made his own models for.

Ben Archer, a 23-year-old animation student from Prestwich who studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston, has produced a five minute animation called Consumption for his final year project. It was inspired by animator Barry Purves who has won over 60 international awards and tends to focus on one model in a single room for films; a style that Ben has adopted for his own production.

Set in the Victorian Times it shows the final day in the life of Frederic, a lonely man suffering from tuberculosis, who builds a mechanical lady to dance with before he dies because he wants to die in someone’s arms.

Ben, a former St Monica’s Roman Catholic High School and Holy Cross Sixth Form College pupil, modelled both characters in intricate detail as well as building his entire set by hand. Ben even learned to sew so he could make Frederic’s suit and used nuts, bolts and watch pieces to make his clockwork doll. He also wrote the script, directed the film and produced the audio and music.

“This project has been a labour of love. I’ve completed every part of it myself and have spent hours alone with these models to the point where they almost became real."

He commented: “This project has been a labour of love. I’ve completed every part of it myself and have spent hours alone with these models to the point where they almost became real; Frederic is a tortured character and I felt like he was torturing me at times during the filming process. I’m glad to say that the hard work was worth it and I’m really pleased with the final result.”

The melancholy nature of the stop-motion film, which took Ben a full day to film each eight seconds of footage, was influenced by his interest in old Russian literature of a similar genre.

"I’ve always loved working in animation, especially making the models as it can be a very peaceful process. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“A lot of my work has an old and decrepit feel to it. I love the creak of floorboards and the sense of decay in Consumption which I hope adds to the atmosphere of the film” he said.

Ben, whose ideal job would be to work on the new Clangers programme, already has plans to enter it in other forthcoming festivals including the London International Animation Festival.

He added: “I’ve had a great response so far from people who have seen the film and now I want to push it out in industry as much as possible. I’ve always loved working in animation, especially making the models as it can be a very peaceful process. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”