The Story of Toys is a tale about the abandoned human’s planet where toys are in charge now. The dark world is contrasting with the toys that always refers to the childhood and innocence. So the audience would feel sorry for little clumsy creatures in the oversized human’s world. However, each toy represents stereotypical images of nowadays people. For example, office workers are dressing all the same way, trying to show the lack of their individuality. Office workers are rushing to work and ignore surrounding even when their colleagues are falling from the platform.
The main character, a toy Mouse, is a spineless and phlegmatic everyman who is leaving in a routine and can’t escape it. He reminds me of George Orwell’s protagonists from novel 1984. However, Winston Smith attempts to break out from the system and total control. It’s a difference between these two characters.
I’m glad that we picked up this script because it looks great on the screen. We experimented with the lower angles shots, compared sizes of toys and surrounding world, played with colours. Also, a combination of stills and cinematic elements made this work unusually attractive. I choose the Production Designer’s role because I feel the passion for this specific area of Film Production. Also, my artistic background and skilled hands will be useful for this role.
Familiarising with the story I got a clear idea of how characters, costumes and locations should look like. I made a lookbook to deliver my vision to the rest of the group. Especially for the lookbook, I drew sketches of toys costumes. Also, I worked closely with Tara. She practised with the lower angle shots that gave us an idea of the film poster.
Diving into the more practical part, I looked through the script one more time. On the paper copy, I highlighted the locations, props, toys and costumes that we need for each scene. That helped me to fill up the script breakdown form. Simplifying this work I made two pages document that shows what props and toys we need on each location. This document helped me to pack my bag for the shooting day.
We received a financing for the Short Film from IndieGoGo campaign. To attract more people we made two videos. One was telling about the film concept and another is a group showreel edited by me. I thought it was important to show people what skills do we have. Sharing and promoting our idea on the Social Media we got required an amount of 500 pounds during four weeks. Some toys were donated to the project by caring and enthusiastic people. That helped me planned the budget for the props and made a shopping list.
A lot of time I spent looking for the props in the shops. It was hard to find a matching design, size and colour toy at reasonable prices. I found a lot of treasures at Charity Shops. Toys are cheap there, they are old style and a bit shabby that fits perfectly in our concept. However, I wasn’t able to find everything in the shops. Therefore, I required help from my friend Beata Murane. Using my sketches we were crafting toys costumes together. It was a big challenge because toys are tiny. We used all our skills and achieved a great result.
Also, working close to Lavinia I made a wall posters design for the Underground scene. We used our imagination and made posters that could be possible existing in the 2030 year. I created a Mars Express company that sells tickets for the space trips. Also, I thought that Robot helper will be an essential gadget in every house. And a little bit of humour about the iPhone innovations, of course, I didn’t use the original brand name so my cell phone called ePhone. I applied special textures to make posters look old and washy. Additionally to all above, I made the Air Freshener cover design because couldn’t use brands on the screen.
Finished with the pre-production phase we started the work on the next stage – production. The first shooting day at the house in Birmingham at the found at Airbnb. When we arrived at the location I made the set design for the first scene.
Finishing with that I left the rest of the team filming and made a set up for the next location – living room. I used dry shampoo to accomplish the dusty look.
The next filming location was the Coventry Electric Railway Museum where we filmed the underground and train scenes. The atmosphere of the abounded train perfectly suited the story. I made a set design in the train, also, I was positioning and moving toys shot by shot. We had to change events order in the story because of the lighting in the train. Unfortunately, we could get this location only at the daytime. So, we moved night train scene in the morning one.
On my last shooting day, we filmed an office scene. I wasn’t really satisfied with the location but, unfortunately, we couldn’t find the office room that I imagined. I made a set design based on the location that we could get.
This project was a great opportunity for me as a Production designer to prove myself. I hope that I achieved a full potential of this script. I feel that overcoming all challenges I have developed my professional skills. I become more familiar with the Production Designer’s duties and his contribution to the project. Also, I trained to think out of the box solving the problems that appear on the set. Working under time pressure improve my time-management skills.
To sum up, I’m satisfied with the final result and can’t wait to send this work to the Film Festival. It was a pleasure to be a part of La Jetee Production!