When filmmaker Glenn Kitson made a film for Reebok and Manchester clothing store Oi Polloi, he managed to get Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder to do the voiceover. He nailed what was needed in 20 minutes and sat with Glenn and the crew for the rest of the afternoon. This was a particular buzz for Glenn because, in his words, "from '91-'99 nothing came close to how cool Shaun was back then".
Anyway, after Shaun has nailed his voiceover, Glenn left the tape running as they chatted for the rest of the afternoon. Fast forward a few years and Glenn was keen to explore his creativity a bit further, explore directing animation, and create a film that wasn't tied to a brand. He knew he was sitting on these recordings of Shaun, so he contacted him, asked if he could stitch some of the stories together and make a film out of them. He said yes, and the resulting film is an animated tale of a local legend of hundreds of Oglala Sioux Indians that settled for six months in teepees on the banks of the River Irwell during the winter of 1887-88. Animation was handled by Will Murphy and it was produced through The Rig Out, Glenn's production company.
LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Glenn.
LBB> What's the starting point of this film? It's way back when you were shooting a Reebok film with Oi Polloi right? Tell me more!
Glenn> Yeh, we made a film for Reebok and Shaun did the VO. We just left the tape running and he started telling loads of stories. He's a natural storyteller.
LBB> You were keen to make a film that was a bit more personal - not tied to a brand. Why this? What was it about this snippet of storytelling from Shaun that resonated with you?
Glenn> Well yes, definitely because of the story as it's quite personal. I'm from that neck of the woods and also a huge fan of the Happy Mondays. But also, as a filmmaker it's important to keep investing in your craft, to get the chance to learn new stuff and also to do less brand stuff as you can make something that is truly you, what you're about and what and how you want to communicate.
LBB> Why animation? Was that always your intention or a later decision?
Glenn> Yep, I've wanted some animation on my reel for a while and this presented itself as the perfect opportunity. I mentioned it to Shaun after that I had all these other stories from the VO and he just said, yeah got for it.
LBB> When it came to the animation, why did you work with Will Murphy? What did he bring to the table that others didn't?
Glenn> I wanted something very specific for the animation and it took me a long time to find someone who had the time to do it. There was a lot of rotoscope involved that is time sensitive, I asked quite a few people and someone put me on to Will. He's an experienced guy, loves the concept and Shaun and it just felt right. As I said, I wanted to learn new skills and directing animation is very different from directing live action, and Will really helped me in the process and talked me through what was possible. It was a proper collaboration.
LBB> From an aesthetic and style point of view, what were your main aims and inspirations when it came to the animation?
Glenn> I wanted a classic style, illustrative with a wee psychedelic twist. I also wanted to pay homage to Central Station Design who made all the Mondays’ covers, they've been a big inspiration to me aesthetically.
LBB> You've hidden a bunch of Easter eggs in the film - can you reveal some of them, and why they're important to you?
Glenn> Just a bunch of Factory Records stuff, Hacienda, Central Station Design, old Manchester stuff… stuff from my past and growing up.
LBB> Shaun and the Happy Mondays mean a lot to you personally - can you talk to why that is?
Glenn> I'm not sure, they were always my favourite band - proper north Manchester, real. I think from ‘91-’99 nothing came close to how cool Shaun was back then.
LBB> And with that in mind, how was it working with Shaun?
Glenn> You know, he was amazing, very professional and also really generous with his time. He has a very big heart.
LBB> When you left the tape running that day, what other stories did he conjure up? Any that you can reveal?
Glenn> HAHA not really I am afraid! Sorry.