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Mr Madila and the Colour of Nothing

"Everything is mostly nothing. Look closely and you can see all the little bits and pieces, and all the gaps in-between." Royal College of Art graduate Rory WT talks about his new animated film - Mr Madilda or The Colour of Nothing. Documenting a series of conversations between the film-maker and a gifted spiritual healer, exploring the inner mind, the fabric of the universe, and the nature of reality itself, Rory explores the sacred art of animation.

Hey Rory! We watched your film at In The Woods earlier this summer - what was the inspiration?

I was handed a card from a spiritual healer on the street. I tend to find them quite frequently anyway, but the wording on this one struck me as being particularly funny. I was already working on some ideas for a film that explored supernatural abilities and the relationship between human beings and the universe etc., but decided that framing it as a conversation allowed to address these themes with humour, and interrupt the film if it was every getting too serious. An animated documentary is the perfect form to play with the boundaries of reality and fiction, as it is honest with you about its visual artificiality, whilst also purporting to be true.

Your film asks lots of questions - what are we spiritually? What goes on in our minds? Are we all just actors? Did you manage to answer some of these questions while making the film?

The film is kind of an argument with myself. I’m pretty much a sceptical, rational person, dismissive of any superstitious magical hoo-ha, but at the same time am really attracted to the beauty of it. The poetry of nonsense. The colour of nothing. Within fiction I’m always drawn towards fantastical elements, magical realist stuff. When watching a film people accept what they see, enjoy being passive, and want the visuals and the music to take them away on an emotion adventure. Of course if you do that in real life, you could end up joining a cult! The language that Mr Madila uses might sounds a bit mad at first, but I wanted to make sure that everything he said kinda makes sense, if you think about it. Different people seem to get different things from the film, which is a good thing I reckon.

What equipment did you use to make your film?

I recorded and edited all the conversations together first, so I could animate to that. The 2D animation was done in TVPaint software, with some After Effects, and the 3D bits were in Maya. The live-action bits were just shot on a Canon DSLR, and my little sister made the hand-puppet that’s in it for about 2 seconds!

How would you describe your animation style?

I liked flipping between two styles in this film. The conversations were very simple, black and white, not too much moving, just staccato quick pose changes. Then when Mr Madila starts to deliver a sermon, it goes more messy and fluid and colourful. I get bored quite easily animating, so I wanted to make a film that switches style every now and then.

What are your hopes for the next year?

I’m going to be working on some animation for Lifebabble, a show on CBBC, and I’m also currently making a short film as part of an artist residency in a law firm, which is a strange experience but hopefully I’ll make something interesting from it! I’ve got a few ideas for some personal projects - that would be good to crack on with when I have the time.

Watch the trailer here:


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