Look How You’ve Grown

We asked Youth Panel member William to share his latest stop-motion animation Look How You've Grown and tell us about the creative process of making the film.

The BBFC asked if I could share my short film, Look How You’ve Grown, as a member of the Youth Panel hoping to eventually end up in a filmmaking career. Subsequently, I’ve tried to consider the ways in which I was made to think about my film’s future audience, as the BBFC does, while I was making it, as well as the moments when I turned to the BBFC’s ratings for help.

The film uses the ever comforting and familiar setting of a Grandma’s house as a canvas for a fantasy about co-dependence and boiled eggs. It’s made using stop motion animated puppets. This means that everything on screen is a small model moved frame by frame, a method that complements the themes of scale explored in the short.  I’ve loved stop-motion for as long as I can remember and the films of Aardman (all U’s and PG’s) are clear animation inspiration that rooted themselves in my brain long ago, alongside other, more unusual cartoon favourites like Belleville Rendezvous (a 12, probably too young for that one when I first saw it!)

So, like someone building a goose house for an unhatched egg (watch the film), I started off with a plan that was well beyond the abilities I had, meaning that the process was as much about learning skills like storyboarding and building armatures, as it was about doing. Since I’d set myself such an unwieldy task, I knew it was unlikely I’d end up with a finished film and instead settled on seeing how much of it I could complete before I left school. In the final version shown here, several sequences are told using an animatic, rather than in full animation. Additionally, I was becoming more adventurous with the films I was watching, hoping to find inspiration and gain a better understanding of visual storytelling. Using BBFC age ratings made me much more comfortable navigating my way into stranger cinematic waters, with influences eventually ranging from Picnic at Hanging Rock (1973, rated PG) to Lynn + Lucy (2020, rated 15).

The little kitchen was probably my favourite thing to make, complete with mini boxes of cereal with silly labels like ‘Over and Oat’ and ‘Brown Bran’. Much of the house’s furniture was inspired by clippings I retrieved from old housekeeping magazines. Building all the sets, props, and the central puppet was by far the longest stage of the project, taking around eight months to complete. Animating it then took about three months. It's been very interesting to get some distance from the film, and see the ways in which the work behind it emerges through the finished product, the audience perspective through which the BBFC considers films.

Throughout my film’s production, I was carrying the idea that I wanted it to be acceptably ‘U-certificate’, to correspond with the universality that the film’s lack of dialogue afforded it. I’ve also always loved the idea of exploring mature concepts like absence without the ‘mature’ content that pushes up an age rating. Instead of generating excitement through intense and violent scenes, I tried to make my film engage through a sense of mystery, with the final moments answering questions set up by the opening. The two ‘mug ripples’ scenes are also interesting as the image is obviously snatched from a spectacularly scary sequence in Jurassic Park, although I reimagined it as a hopeful rather than threatening moment, and therefore it could probably still pass at a lower age rating. 

With thanks to my friend Ruth, whose wonderful music is featured centrally, I hope you have a lovely time watching it.

William, 19