You can’t swing a festival pass around here at Annecy without hitting a McLeod Brother in the face. They are everywhere - watching their film Codswallop in competition, dodging inquisitive festival directors, observing the intimate life of insects on the lawn of the Imperial, making straw hats cool.
The story came about after Greg challenged Myles to write a Brothers Grimm tale. Do you basically dare each other into doing work?
All of our work comes from a series of dares. I dare Greg to draw while skydiving. He dares me to write in a darkened sub at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Actually none of our work comes about this way. Though now I come to think of it, it sounds like a much more exciting way of generating ideas.
Usually it starts with something that’s popped into our head as the seed of an idea; it might be after watching a film, reading a book, taking a walk, travel, a dream, automatic writing, a sketch, or reinvigorating an old idea. If it’s an idea that interests both of us then we’ll start to talk about the possibilities.
Being brothers, we have a kind of shared cultural language. Our sense of humour is very similar. We have similar expectations from a story or film. So when we get an idea we like we start to throw around ideas for characters, humour, atmosphere, tone and the kinds of story we’d like to tell. It’s a natural process where the idea evolves.
Your blog mentions influences from the literary world. Do words play a large part in your development process? Or are you just showing off?
We have no need to show off because we are deeply intelligent people. Also deeply modest. I can’t recall which literary influences we mention on the blog, but it is true that from time to time we do… and please, I know it’s shocking… we do read books.
Words are important to the identity of anything you create of course. Naming is a really important part of any work. Place names. Character names (even if the audience never learns it like the little girl Teardrop in our new film). And of course the name of the film is important too. Sometimes a name just arrives and you know it’s right. Other times it takes longer to work out. Often we’ll use a word because we’re attracted to its sound rather than its meaning.
You have a very distinctive, striking style. Can you tell us more about the creative process of The Moon Bird?
The Moon Bird first came to be about two years ago. Greg was about to go on holiday and laid down a challenge for me to write a Brothers Grimm style story by the time he was back. I read around some of the old tales, then wrote a new one in a similar style.
We didn’t really have time to work further on it that year because we were working on Pedro and Frankensheep and some commercials with Aardman. Then Greg’s son broke his leg so Greg spent a lot of time in the hospital sitting at the bedside. As well as being conscripted by the nurses to paint decorations around the ward Greg also started sketching out some storyboards for The Moon Bird, which formed the basis of our Digishorts application.
Now it’s been a case of adapting the tale into a screenplay. A lot of the written tale relies on the interior emotional story, but in the screenplay we need to see the main character being more physically active in trying to fight the antagonist. We’ve had to forget that we wrote the original and approach it as filmmakers dealing with an adaptation project.
The visual style is something Greg has worked on a lot. He always does before every film. He tries out all kinds of styles, including tried and tested looks, while often inventing new ways of working too. That’s the case for The Moon Bird. He was tempted to use a similar style to our recent short animation Codswallop, but the charcoal lines just look better for The Moon Bird. It feeds into the folksy, hand made feel that we’re looking for.
You both have a lot more facial hair than the two characters who grace your website. Will they ever get a makeover?
Our logo alter-egos will remain clean shaven. But there are other sketches…