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Fresh Takes: Daisy Jacobs Plunges Viewers into Real Life Drama with ‘The Full Story’

In her award-winning short, live actors are injected into the uniquely chaotic and morphing animated vortex, creating a riveting and impactful viewing experience.

Daisy Jacobs and Chris Wilders’ award-winning animated short, ‘The Full Story.’

In our latest Fresh Takes, we share with AWN readers The Full Story, an exquisitely designed and animated short film from BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated writer and director, Daisy Jacobs. Her latest film, finally available online, offers a remarkable and compelling glimpse into life with all its challenges and rewards – warts and all.  Like her previous films, The Bigger Picture (2014), Tosh (2012) and Don Justino de Neve (2011), Jacobs’ newest work immerses viewers inside the tumultuous, disrupted lives of the characters, who are convingly portrayed in her unique animation style through a novel interjection of real actors.

When the dad next-door walks out, five-year-old Toby discovers that parents leave. As the shock hits, the entire room catapults skywards, morphs in mid-air and lands as a different space. The rooms keep pace with Toby's volatile emotions as home life spirals out of control in the divorce boom of the 1970s and 80s. Forty years on, kaleidoscopic scraps of memory still cling to the walls; Toby clings to these fragments, trying to piece together the full story.

The makers of The Bigger Picture bring their life-size murals off the wall, into the vortex of their hybrid 2D/3D world. “I wanted to look at a family fracturing,” Jacobs reveals. “[In the film] Toby reflects on his childhood and the pain he felt at his parents’ divorce.”

According to Jacobs, her creative process on the film was both lengthy and challenging: it took three months to write, create the storyboard and animatic; an additional four months designing the sets and characters; followed by 10 months working closely and exclusively with co-director Chris Wilder, creating, painting and animating.

“Chris and I actually somersaulted a real room into the air and had it land as another space and later spin round the characters to land as a new room,” Jacob explains, noting how she captured the upside-down nature of Toby’s life. “This meant morphing furniture in a straight-ahead animation style for every take – like cutting a real sofa down incrementally and attaching it higher and higher up the back wall - while also repainting the characters who are sitting on the sofa or catapulting through the air. We had to ensure all the elements were going to land where needed, all the while controlling the changing lighting state.”

Merging live-action characters into the animation presented the team with real challenges. The actors were often positioned quite close to the painted characters (sitting across the table from them or walking directly past them), so special care was taken to ensure the actors fit into the painted world, as the two mediums were blended together in a convincing manner.

“We spent a lot of time testing how to flatten the actors with lighting and make-up,” Jacobs describes. “We decided to paint patterns onto their costumes. Then we did the reverse to the painted environment, doing everything to make it seem more three-dimensional, heightening areas where the light hit surfaces with gloss and using as many shiny/reflective materials as we could.”

The Full Story has garnered numerous international accolades and awards, a testament to the creators’ goal of using animation and filmmaking as an expression of their souls. “The reward of a difficult project like this is the hope that the audience will take to heart the messages and relate to the art form in a way that frees them of their own childhood ‘baggage,’ and as the main character did, to ‘let go,’” Jacob explains. “I hope to make work which is uplifting and cathartic for others and continue to push myself creatively.” 

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is assistant news editor at Animation World Network.