Natalie Woodlock - Grots to the show

6:06, 2006, Animation
Family, memory and connection to place are explored in this evocative and mnemonic film that combines stop motion animation and live action. A collection of stories about growing up in a regional area in the 1970s, where the sweet stickiness of the surroundings are rendered in icing, cake and knitting.
DirectorNatalie Woodlock


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Who is Natalie Woodlock?I am a 27 year old artist. Grots to the show is my first film. I went to art school in Melbourne, Australia, majoring in photography (1999-2003). I received training as a photographer in the first few years of the course, though I soon started working with images and objects as well as photographs, making installation-based and conceptual work. It was at University that I made my first moving image / video works and learnt the basics of video editing.
I’ve always had an interest in conceptual, underground and political works. I also have an interest in the telling of personal narratives.

Why filmmaking?In 2004 I had a solo exhibition of work called Queensland 4740. I made four sculptural “scenes” made from cake, icing, cloth dolls, knitting and crochet about my experience of growing up in North Queensland, Australia. These scenes described rituals my family had such as Friday night BBQs with the neighbours across the street and the buying and packing away of meat bought in bulk (a common practice in country Australia done to save money). After I made this work I thought “wouldn’t it be great if it moved?” So it was from this work that I had the idea to animate the stories using domestic crafts as the sets.
Previously I had made silent video works shot on mini dv. So making Grots to the show was a huge learning curve. But I love animation, particularly stop motion. I’ve taught stop motion workshops and most people have the same reaction as me when their work is transferred to the computer – this total joy / pleasure at seeing the objects they’ve made move.

Making this film has increased my interest in making film and screen based work.

Grots to the show is about...
The narration in my film is autobiographical. It’s about memory, connection to place and family. It is also about pain, loss and sadness. It is also very specifically about the social culture of white North Queensland and of my family.

Financing your movie?I received a Young Artists’ Grant from the City of Melbourne in 2005 to make my film. This helped me to finance paying a sound designer and buying equipment (a laptop and a digital stills camera). The film is also self-funded in that I paid for many of the materials and supported myself while I was making it. I had friends who helped me knit, crochet and stick pieces of felt together for the set.
I went to a dance school and watched a girls’ ballet class to find dancers for my film. The Dance School was really helpful and I found two girls who were really generous and volunteered their time.
Everybody who played music in the film was a friend and did it for free. The two kids who narrated the film were students of Frances Evans, the sound designer, and also volunteered their time.
So only a few people were paid – the sound designer and the woman who made the sky for my set. Everyone else donated their time and resources (including me!).

New Media; a challenge for filmmakers?I have only recently started to use the internet to share work with an audience. I have a couple of online journals – one about the process of making a stop motion animation and the other a documentation of a hitch-hiking project. I like how internet-based work opens up opportunities for anyone (in developed countries) to easily and cheaply publish images, text, movies, etc. It’s very accessible.

Do your films have style, just as some painters have?I’d say I have a style that’s influenced by visual and video art. Also I think my style is influenced by domestic crafts and the homemade.

Influences?Some of the artists that I am inspired by are: Fiona Foley, Elvis Richardson, Sally Smart, Van Sowerwine, The Brothers Quay and Miranda July.

Which film related websites do you frequent?Without a box is a good website to visit to look up film festivals.
Here are a few other art / new media sites:
Tex and Trixie - Artist Alison Ward makes performance art and video works. You can watch some of the videos on her site.
Raw Space - a moving image gallery in Brisbane, Australia.
US mob - Usmob is a site where you can watch videos delivered to you every week. They are made by Arrernte people from Mparntwe (Allice Springs), Australia. You have to get a permit to log into the site, just like you do to walk onto indigenous land. The films are about issues that arise in the daily life of Arrernte people.
Wombok Forrest - This is the site of two amazing stop motion animators. They are currently making a feature length stop motion called Wombok Forest. This site is a journal of that process. Helpful if you do stop motion.
Stop Motion Film - A site that has lots of stop motion films you can watch.
Dot Ayu - The site of a project that highlights an era of 1800"s colonial australia and explores the prickly issues of Native Policing, dispossession, displacement, massacres and survival in Australia. Showcases the work of new media artist Jenny Fraser.

Individual film making or co-operation?Because I come form a visual arts background I’m used to doing everything myself. But lately I’ve worked on a few collaborative projects and it’s been really good to pool skills and share ideas. I’m working on a location-based mobile phone movie treasure hunt with another artist. We both have different areas of skill and knowledge. Together we’ve been able to plan a project that it would be impossible for me to do on my own.

Your plans and dreams ...I’d really like to make a short fictional live action film.

Have you ever had another ambition in life than to become a filmmaker?To become an artist.

Digital or classic?I have a Super 8 camera that I shot the live action component of my film on. I love Super 8 and think it has a beautiful quality to it. It looks so different to digital video. I also like that artists can afford to shoot on film by using Super 8.
I also have a digital SLR camera that I use for shooting stop motion animation on. It’s great being able to plug your camera into your computer and see what you’ve animated right away, to see if it’s working or not. To see how the movement looks, etc.

Individual filmmaking or cooperation?Recently I did a collaborative hitchhiking project called Two Girls. This project involved a friend and I hitching around Australia and documenting our trip through photographs, audio recordings and an online journal. In each town we’d update our blog, which was basically a photo-essay. We couldn’t have documented our trip in this way if we were using a film camera. So I think for artists who work with the internet and new media, digital is really amazing and opens up new possibilities.

I like and use both new and old ways of working.

View other work of Natalie WoodlockI don’t have any of my film work that can be viewed on the net but you can check out these projects online: Two Girls. - A project documenting a hitchhiking trip through photos, audio and text.
Love the Cake Lady - A blog that documents the process of making a stop motion animation. It’s for a new animated video work I’m making for exhibition in Brisbane, Australia in September 2006.

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