The Oscars: Phelan Talks Granny O' Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
Talk about a fractured fairy tale. Nicky Phelan, an animation director at Ireland's Brown Bag, knew that Granny O' Grimm's hysterical comedy routine would make a grand animated short, so he convinced Granny creator Kathleen O'Rourke to make it happen with him. Phelan describes the making of his first short and the road to Oscar with the bitter old Granny.
Bill Desowitz: Well, Irish animation is certainly well represented between The Secret of Kells and Granny.
Nicky Phelan: Yeah, we were all whooping and hollering when we heard that Secret of Kells was nominated -- it was great. And then when we found out about Granny, too, we nearly fell over. It's really great. Tomm went to the same college [Ballyfermot College in Dublin] and left the year before I started. So I remember seeing their Secret of Kells concept stuff up on the walls to inspire us and it did.
BD: So Granny is your first animated short after working in commercials and TV projects for Brown Bag. How did it come about?
NP: Well, it started when I met Kathleen O'Rourke at the time we were attending different colleges. I was friends with her sister and she was part of this cabaret group called The Fallen Angels, and she had a few different characters in that sketch show and one of them was Granny O' Grimm. She would tell these fairy tales from a particular not so happy point of view. And The Sleeping Beauty one was the first one I saw and it really jumped at me when I saw her doing it. And I could really picture it in two worlds with Granny in the bedroom and the fairy tale unfolding. I'd seen it a while before the Framework funding scheme came up so I went to Kathleen and asked her about writing her sketch for a short. So she sent in the script after a bit of pestering and then I sent it to the guys at Brown Bag and asked them if they'd be interested in producing it, and they say, yeah, and we gave it a go and it got selected then and we got the funding to go ahead and make it and so it was great.
NP: By the time it was finished, there were about 30 credits, including eight animators: three of them were 2D and five were 3D. And with texturing and modeling and everything and sound guys, it extended. But a lot of the team worked on commercials together, so it was good to do something fun and crazy, with her being the lunatic Granny.
BD: What inspired the design of Granny?