To celebrate the BBC broadcast of short films made through our Beacons scheme, Ffilm Cymru are sharing a series of interviews introducing the new and emerging Welsh filmmakers that made them
Efa Blosse-Mason’s short film Cwch Deilen (Leaf Boat) is a Welsh-language animation exploring the joy and fear experienced in the early days of a relationship.
Ahead of the broadcast we spoke to Efa about her artistic process, animation inspiration and her plans for the future.
Hi Efa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Cardiff; my Mum is English and my Dad is Welsh and I was brought up bi-lingual. I went to university in Bristol. In my second year, I was awarded an Erasmus scholarship and I chose to go to MOME, Budapest where I was really inspired by the Animation history and culture in Hungary. I graduated in 2018 and my graduation film Earthly Delights won the RTS student award.
What media and processes did you use to draw and animate Cwch Deilen?
The backgrounds for Cwch Deilen were mainly made using paints and oil pastels. Aberaeron, a small seaside town in west Wales, near to where my Mamgu (grandmother) lives, is where Cwch Deilen is set, and I spent several days there sketching the harbour, the boats and the sea. The animation was done digitally using a software called TvPaint.
Were there any particular influences on the style of animation?
I was inspired by Song Of The Sea made by the Irish animation company Cartoon Saloon. It was directed by Tomm Moore and art directed by Adrien Mérigeau. It's a story set in the modern-day but it incorporates ancient Celtic stories and folklore. In the background designs and the animation, you can see the influence of Celtic folk art and primitive flattened perspective, which works so well for a 2D animated film. I also love the soundtrack, which features the ethereal vocals of Lisa Hannigan, and which also inspired Casi Wyn (the artist who made the soundtrack for Cwch Deilen).
Which festivals has the film been selected for, and what kind of strategy did you have for approaching them?
We have been selected for the Cardiff Animation Festival, the Festival of Animation Berlin, Film With Pride, The Flip Book Film Festival, Manchester Animation Festival, AnimaFilm Baku, AnimaSyros and the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 situation, some of the festivals were cancelled or went online. It has been a very different experience doing online screenings instead of being in the presence of an audience and sensing their responses in the room.
What support did Ffilm Cymru & BFI NETWORK give you?
Ffilm Cymru and the BFI Network funded this project through their Beacons funding scheme and I am grateful to them for the opportunity to make this film. It is my most ambitious project yet and I’ve learnt a huge amount through the processes of writing and directing and animating the film about how to use my voice as a filmmaker. Ffilm Cymru and BFI NETWORK hosted a day for the filmmakers to develop their projects under the mentorship of Kate Leys, script editor, which was super helpful in developing the story of the film.
What have you been watching during lockdown?
I’ve been watching I May Destroy You, written and starring Michaela Coel. It’s a series about a young black woman and her friends in London dealing with sexual trauma. I love watching how the characters develop as the series progresses. They are all struggling to process the many complex things that life is throwing at them. The main character is a writer and it seems autobiographical, like you are watching a world within a world, a woman writing a story in order to get to grips and make peace with all the things that have happened to her. I think this is the reason why I want to make films too, it’s a way of making sense of your experiences and sharing it with the world.
What do you have planned next?
I’m now working on a collaboration with the poet Hanan Issa on a short poetry film called Blodeuwedd’s Gift. I’m finding it interesting working with a poem and making the visuals not just illustrate what the words are saying but adding new meaning. I’ve also been enjoying working on music videos and would love one day to work on a documentary film because I think animation and documentary work so well together.
Watch the trailer for Cwch Deilen (Leaf Boat) here.
Cwch Deilen was produced by Amy Morris at Winding Snake Productions through Ffilm Cymru and BFI NETWORK’s Beacons scheme in association with BBC Cymru Wales. Watch it on BBC 2 Wales on Thursday 17th September at 11:30pm (the film will also be available on iPlayer following its broadcast).