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Student’s film selected for Lift-Off Global Network's Animator Showcase

Emile posing with the models used in her film
Emile posing with the models used in her film
Emine Oktay,
BA (Hons) Production Arts for Screen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Emine Oktay
Written by
Mica Lawrence
Published date
12 August 2020

A graduate of the Technical Arts pathway of BA Production Arts for Screen has had their final project selected for a prestigious film showcase: Emine Oktay, who has been working from her home in South London to prepare her work for the Graduate Showcase, created stop-frame animation OTOKRAT in her living room.

As well as forming her final submission for her degree, Emine’s film has been shortlisted for Lift-Off Global Network's Animator Showcase, which aims to celebrate and nurture those applying their animating abilities to create bold and innovative films.

We spoke to her about her practice investigating family dynamics and dual nationalities and how she was inspired to start working in stop-frame animation by a music video she saw as a teenager.

Silhouette of Emine, creating moving the models used in her film
Emine Oktay, Emile at work in the studio
BA (Hons) Production Arts for Screen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Emine Oktay

Tell us about your final project

For my final year at Wimbledon, I created a stop-frame film titled OTOKRAT, which meansautocrat/dictator in Turkish. Alongside its Vimeo screening on the UAL Graduate Showcase, you can also find a link to my website for the whole behind-the-scenes process; from the storyboard through to the final cut.

OTOKRAT was a means of finding closure from domestic violence, while also exploring consent, sexuality and a sense of ‘belonging’. It is a culmination of my five-year-long fine art practice: Paracosm, a project documenting mental disorders, family dynamics, dual-nationality, politics and our psychological connection to humanoid creatures.

What inspired you to create OTOKRAT?

When I was 14 years old, I came across the band TOOL’s stop-frame music video for their song Sober: it was the first time that I had seen the medium being used for something other than a family and/or comedy purpose. Sober was the reason I came to study at Wimbledon College of Arts and then go on to create an experimental stop-frame for my final piece.

Alongside Adam Jones’ influence in TOOL’s music videos, there were also the works of Jiří Trnka, Phil Tippett, Alessandro Sicioldr and Paul Rumsey who guided my work over the past 5 years. By utilising what I had learnt through these artists, I gathered the confidence to finally translate the 2D Paracosm visions into 3D motion.

Tell us more about your design practice and the creative process involved in your work?

Creating a stop-frame as a one-woman team was both intimidating and also completely freeing. Stop-frame films are so intriguing to me as they present the widest variety of processes, yet are still achievable by just the one individual.

The project as a whole involved creating concept art, storyboards, technical drawings, armature modifications, build-up puppets, set fabrication through welding and woodwork, creating filming manuals/schedules, animating, lighting, editing, collaborating with the score composer,Sam Harris, and producing the graphics. Each of these skills involved a variety of low-budget materials, including a small amount of resin, metal, foam wadding, fabrics and plastics. Accomplished on a budget of roughly £200, my aim was to focus on the visual outcome and not let money stop me from creating the film I had in mind.

Creating a stop-frame film also felt like the most strategic way of expanding my skillset for a variety of different roles within the industry.

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown all students have been working remotely. Not having technicians, facilities and certain equipment available to me did require a lot of problem-solving. There was a lot of Gaffer tape involved and some very strange set-ups! Nearly every other shot in OTOKRAT required a different composition of sets, lights and puppets, but by making a detailed filming schedule and manual (and having a lot of patience), I managed to achieve the shots at the expected, or higher level, than what I had hoped for.

How did your film come to be included in The Animators Showcase?

As a result of the pandemic, The Animator's Showcase was combined with several others as part of the premiere for the Lift-Off Global Network Extravaganza 2020; an online film festival with a global reach! My film screened alongside 99 other short films in the Drama & Documentary Programme, listed as #2 on the schedule.

The public voting stage has just ended and I came joint 1st, holding 20% of the votes! So now the top five films will go through to the judging panel, I’m a little nervous, as the others were made my teams with a much bigger budget – hopefully my DIY living room film impresses them.

Two models used in the film
Emine Oktay, The models used in the stop frame film
BA (Hons) Production Arts for Screen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Emine Oktay

How has your practice evolved throughout your degree?

Before I began studying at Wimbledon, I knew I wanted to be ‘behind-the-scenes’ for film and TV - I just hadn’t considered where specifically. I was very much open to anything and I still am, however I did find a niche that I didn’t know I had a passion for. It was the model-making and group animation projects in 1st year that made me realise: my previous studies in maths, art and architecture were the perfect trio to go into model-making, miniatures and stop-frame animation.

While I still have a passion for my fine art practice, and I still enjoy doing anything creative for film, tv and theatre, finding a specific area that I could really excel in definitely gave me more confidence in my career path.

How have you found studying BA Production Arts for Screen at Wimbledon College of Arts?

I’ve made a lot of work! I’ve produced so many different outcomes, using so many different materials, techniques and thought processes. I’ve become a better writer and a much better problem solver. Thanks to studying at Wimbledon, my portfolio now showcases such a wide range of work that I don’t have to limit myself to one profession, but can hopefully travel around between many. Throughout the three years, I felt free to explore practices that I hadn’t had the resources to do so before. My highlight has definitely been making this film, it’s something I had had in mind since I was a kid, but never had the opportunity to realise.

A range of textured black and white backgrounds
Emine Oktay, A break down of assets used in the stop frame film
BA (Hons) Production Arts for Screen, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Emine Oktay

Do you have any tips for students who are about to start their degree?

Find someone who inspires and motivates you. My ‘someone’ was Adam Jones – the guitarist and stop-frame animator from TOOL. After reading up on his life, career progression and experiences, he motivated me through the entire degree. Having a role model who has worked in the industry and achieved things that you would also hope to do one day, gives you a real drive and sense of purpose.

On the flip side, this ‘someone’ could also be a friend, family member or someone working in a completely different field to what you want to do. As long as they inspire you to constantly improve your work and never settle for ‘good enough’, then you’ll get far.

What career paths are you considering after graduating?

Short term, my dream would be to work in animation: creating sets, miniature props and puppets. Long-term, I want to be a part of bringing experimental animation to the mainstream. The origins of stop-frame animation are very different to what we see in media today and I feel like something very beautiful has been lost as a result.

While creating large-scale stop-frame films is an end goal, until then I just want to keep expanding my skill set and experiencing a variety of roles within film, tv, theatre and fine-art. Of course, with everything going on in the world, now is definitely not the time to be picky! I will just have to see where life takes me.

The Technical Arts pathway that Emine studied has now been validated as a new degree for 2021: find out more about BA Technical Arts for Theatre and Performance

Follow Emine on Instagram

Explore the UAL Graduate showcase