Squaring the Circle

My storyboard now had a title “The Circle & The Square” and three designs with the story connecting them: Square draws flower… Circle draws deer… Deer eats flower… Square gets angry… Square draws big flower… Flower eats deer… Circle draws??? I went back to experimenting with a compass, and produced a crab which cut down the big flower, and borrowed a lion character from a children’s book, which my parents had written 30 years before, to deal with the crab.


It was now time for me to go up north (taking my light box and 500 cels). The site was even more remote than expected, and it seemed to rain solidly for the first six weeks, so the film proceeded at about 100 drawings a week! Since the rostrum is bolted to the roof of my parent’s attic, 250 miles away, I had to make the shooting procedure as quick and simple as possible because I could only film in occasional weekends at home. I therefore tried as far as possible to use only two layers of cel and to use cels for all the movements of the circle and the square, rather than using cutouts which have to be carefully positioned for every frame.


I decided that I had taken the conflict as far as I wanted and so I made the circle produce a “female” lion to seduce the male and round off the film. I had completed 900 cels by mid October and I saw that I could finish the film by Christmas (for the Ten Best and LAFF deadlines) instead of at Easter as I originally expected. I took a weeks holiday and went home to finish the filming and get ideas on a method of courtship for the lions from my father. By the Friday night all the drawings were done and the filming finished so I ran off the last few feet of film, only to discover that the film had stuck in the cartridge! I sent it off to Kodak hoping that there would be enough exposed to make it possible to film the remainder in a weekend, but when it returned only the first three feet had gone through the camera. Therefore having completed 1,000 drawings in three months I had to wait till January to complete the film.

I picked out four of the eighty tracks of electronic music on the Boosey and Hawkes mood music records while the film was away being striped and copied. Finally I added the soundtrack to each copy of the film, and one went straight to an Australian competition where it competed against Elixir and Nightmare. Last month I heard that it had been awarded one of the top ten prizes, while Nightmare was 23rd and Elixir 53rd.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 5 (Summer 1983)