Today we speak to very multi-talented UK actor/director Lee Hardcastle.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I am an independent film maker – I make short movies with very little money, sometimes no money and through the powers that be YouTube, I’ve been able to reach an audience and build a career out of it. I stress that I’m an Indie film maker, writer, director, actor and animator.
A little detail worth mentioning is that 99% of my productions to date that have been made with clay and stop motion animation – ‘claymation’ if you will, and because I like to tell stories aimed at a more mature audience, they tend to be very bloody and violent.
You mentioned that your work tends to be “very bloody and violent”, is there a specific reason for this?
Yeah, people get a kick out of it, myself included. It’s a weird thing because there’s different levels of violence, like a crazy amount of different types and there is a certain type that I tend to avoid because it’s not for me. I hate watching films that have no other intention but to make you feel like shit though there are some films that make you feel like shit but that’s not their only intention, if that makes sense…
Anyway, the type of violence you’ll find in my work is the cheesy, over the top stuff that’s more of a fun house of violence. It’s gross and horrifying but fun and easy to digest.
What can you tell us about claymation?
Clay is a malleable modelling material that comes in many colours, and once you sculpt something, there’s not a lot you can do with it thereafter because it’s fragile and not easy to keep clean from dust. In one moment of history someone packaged and branded this stuff as art material for children to play with, then I guess someone saw its potential to be used with stop motion animation (is the illusion of movement on film using a series of still images).
I think ‘claymation’ is a word coined by Will Vinton back in the 80’s. Vinton built a studio/brand that was purely stop motion animation using clay – the Californian Raisins were their Mickey Mouse.
I was born in 1985, I grew up with all the stuff on TV fresh from the Vinton Studios and also Wallace & Grommit was very big on my British telly, and then I remember the birth of 3D computer animation. I’d seen some bits of poorly constructed CGI before on MTV and certain channel indents but when Toy Story hit cinemas, you’ve no idea what that was like to be 10 years old and watch an entire Disney movie in this new medium and done to that level of production, it was incredible but along with all the stop motion/claymation quickly disappeared off the TV! Just like that, it was gone literally within a year. It was like claymation was the dinosaur and Toy Story was the meteor that wiped it out.
You seem to be a man of many interests and skills (film maker, writer, director, actor and animator) – which one of these activities would you say are you most passionate about and why?
Writer/director: I’m just a guy with a vision for telling stories. I’m not much of an animator at all, I don’t enjoy it. My ideal position would be to have a crew making my videos look good for me so I can focus on telling a story.
What inspires you in life?
I’m inspired by others, when I see someone else working hard it sort of makes me feel bad about myself and I can’t help but push myself to also do some work also, so I’m quite a workaholic.
Do you have any other interests/areas of expertise you would like to mention?
Not really, I’m pretty boring. I have a passion for pinball machines and I’ve owned a Sega X-Files table for a couple of years now and I’m planning on entering a tournament next season. I like to drink a lot of beer, play American pool and I love the outdoors. I don’t have any other intense hobbies or interests beyond that. I’d like a pet cat.
Spook Train was a Kickstarter project, a movie pitch to anyone who wanted to listen. Basically I came up with this idea for a feature length movie that got me full of piss and vinegar. I don’t know anything about how feature films get made, I’ve never made one before because I don’t have the finance to support a two year project like that or know-how to make any money from it thereafter. But nevertheless, I thought fuck it and I put together a ‘fake trailer’ to sell the idea of the movie and watched what came out of the woodwork.
The Kickstarter did not reach its target goal, so that was a bust but I’ve had lots of interest and support from the right people outside of the Kickstarter and so this picture Spook Train is still very much on the cards right now, whether or not it’ll go into production any time soon is something I couldn’t confirm at this moment.
Which three people would you ideally want to work with?
My dream actor would be Bill Murray, if I had one actor wish to spend, I’d sure spend it on Bill. Music composer, Derek Miller from Sleigh Bells. My third choice, I’d like to work with animator/VFX wizard, Cyriak Harris.
What’s the worst part about your job?
Stop motion animation takes time and I mean a LONG time, and that time is spent in a room deprived of natural light or any sort of breezy ventilation. And you’ve constantly gotta be in “the zone” for long periods of time, months at a time. Stop motion animation may be the cheapest solution to film making but it is the most gruelling type of film making there is.
…and the best part?
The result. It’s all about the result. To own something that you can easily access and share with other people, it makes me feel human. When people connect and give a reaction to an idea or story that came from my head and articulated in images/expressed in story. When people go along for ride and fucking enjoy it, I feel valued as a man walking this planet.
What is your ultimate goal?
Simply to make a “good” feature length movie, that has been my one and only dream all my life. If I ever achieve that then I know that when I die that I died feeling very much achieved.
Where can fans of your work find you?
Spook Train news letter: http://eepurl.com/SuPrH
YouTube Channel: http://youtube.com/death
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/leehardcastle