Basil’s Trump

Basil looks out upon Skelter RockBasil’s Trump has nothing to do with trapped wind. It’s the name of a short stop-motion animated film I made as a student with my good friend Roger Smith. It’s just made its debut on YouTube, but if you scroll down just a little you can watch it right here on this blog.

First, a little background. Roger and I made the film while studying for a degree in interior design. Halfway through, I decided I wanted to be a writer instead and was ready to give the whole thing up as a bad job. Roger shared some of my dissatisfaction with the course. Unlike me, however, he’s an incredibly gifted interior and event designer, and now runs his own highly successful business in central London.

What we needed was a plan that would let us stay on the course and get our degrees, but make life tolerable while we did it. After much discussion, we decided to make a movie. Now, nearly 25 years on, I’ve finally got round to posting it online. It’s in two parts, which together run a little under 25 minutes, so make yourself a coffee, settle back and enjoy Basil’s Trump.

The CityGod knows how we talked the tutors into letting us make this film. They listened to our arguments about how we’d have to design and build all the sets, which really did make it an interior design project, honest, really it did.

Actually, I think they got sick of our badgering and caved in just to keep us quiet. They finally agreed to let us make the film using whatever college resources we could scrape together, with the proviso that we tackled it as an additional project on top of all the official work. That was good enough for us.

We started the film in 1986 and finished it in 1988, just in time for its final-year premiere in one of the college lecture theatres. The budget was practically non-existent, and most of the materials and equipment we used were begged, stolen or borrowed. Did I say stolen? They weren’t. We shot it on Super-8, so the picture quality varies from fair to shoddy. For all its faults, though, I still love it to bits.

Basil's palaceWhile preparing the film for its debut on YouTube, I stumbled over The Making of Basil’s Trump, a blow-by-blow account of the production we wrote to support the project. Once I’ve sifted through the text, I’ll write more detailed post telling you how we made the puppets, built the sets, did the background composites – we even managed a short CG title shot (crashing the college mainframe in the process).

Until then, I’ll leave you with the film. I beg you to look past the shaky, grainy 8mm frames and splice-marks and see the energetic curiosity-of-a-film that’s trying to get out. If you like it, let me know – I’d love to hear what you think of what is, as far as I know, the only stop-motion animated film ever to come out of the Middlesex Polytechnic interior design department.

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