Responses by Pete Candeland, director, Friends Electric
Background: Working with Electric Theatre Collective, the purpose of the spot was to promote Great Western Railway and encourage travel by train in the United Kingdom. Enid Blyton’s characters from the children’s novel series The Famous Five are beloved in the United Kingdom; I was excited to use them in the project and integrate their history into the new narrative that traveled around the country.
Reasoning: Since the audience was so broad, we wanted to use something familiar and well known to pull everyone in. With the Famous Five being loved by so many, we knew it would appeal to a lot of people and still promote what Great Western Railway was trying to do.
Challenges: Giving proper authenticity to the existing properties in the project, while integrating new elements that fit within the universe. I studied the books and made sure I understood the characters so when I built a new world around them, it gave justice to the original well-known characters. Once the production was complete, the real challenge became fitting in so much in one minute, but still making sure the story made sense and that people recognized the characters and locations used.
Favorite details: I really like the short film because of all the levity and fun that fit into an adventure story in one minute. The comedy was accomplished in a short amount of time and the general look is close to the original books, which makes me happy as well. We kept it as simple and accurate to the original books as we could.
Visual influences: The original covers of the Famous Five books by the brilliant illustrator Eileen Soper. We worked to remain as true to those illustrations as possible. After all the computer graphics were completed, we printed out the scenes onto paper and scanned them back in so we could get the proper grain and texture blending with the painted look. We wanted to make a proper tribute to the original illustrator’s intent while still creating this new world for Great Western Railway.
Specific demands: We’re using known characters and then introducing a new character as well as illustrating a train moving around different locations in the United Kingdom that had to look accurate to those real locations. It’s always more difficult to pay homage to an existing property and make it authentic and recognizable to the audience.