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CLARA slips under the veneer of suburban normality of Clara's life into the depths of her feelings of loss, grief and anger.
There is a point in most of our lives when we begin to realise that terrible things can happen, and that nothing is permanent. This is particularly evident when we are confronted with death at an early age.
CLARA is a very personal story for me, a story that resonates many of my own experiences as I made the transition from childhood to adolescence. It is also a story about the terrible pain that we all can experience at any time in our lives. Ultimately, it is a story about both the resilience in all of us when confronted with terrible pain, and the beauty and terrible sadness that surrounds us at all times.
I have always been fascinated with stop motion animation. I feel it has a certain magical quality to it. I first became interested in using stop motion animation to animate plastic dolls I collected – I found myself drawn to particular dolls, around which I would develop a narrative that I would then animate. I then began sculpting my own animated characters as I became more interested in creating worlds that are a blend of the real and the magical.
This has culminated for me in the creation of CLARA, the first fully funded animation production I have written and directed. CLARA is set in Melbourne in the present day, and the sets are very realistic copies of parks and houses near where I live. Clara herself is made of silicon, a material that looks flesh-like, adding to the sense of realism in the film.
The realism in the film is juxtaposed with the strange and terrible things that happen to Clara. For me, this juxtaposition mirrors the precariousness of our existence – while we may exist in a happy, ‘normal’ world, terrible and strange things can happen to any of us at any time. At all times we are surrounded by and cannot escape death; this does not prevent us from also finding beauty and happiness in life.