‘The Golden Bird’ dir. Cat Bruce

When a boy goes in search of a mysterious golden bird, he soon discovers that, in his world, things are not as they seem.

Writer-Director: Cat Bruce
Composer: David McGregor
Key Cast: Dean James Fairbairn, Maggie Spalding

Presented in association with Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival 2013


C8: Why did you decide to adapt a Brothers Grimm story?

CB: I’d been reading a lot of old folk and fairytales during the summer, and I had read this Brothers Grimm story The Golden Bird, and loved it, so decided to adapt it for the degree film. It’s a really epic adventure story so it needed simplified for the animation and I ended up mixing in a couple of elements from other fairytales in the process.

C8: The score is particularly interesting. How did you work with composer David McGregor to produce what you were after?

CB: David is an old friend of mine, we’re both from the highlands and we used to jam together as teenagers, so it was very natural for us to work together. I knew what kind of sound I was after, and was already very familiar with David’s style. So it just worked well. I showed him the film, told him roughly what I was looking for, and he created this beautiful sound track. He is very talented!

C8: How did you work with the voice actors to achieve the performances you desired?

CB: Luckily my friend Dean is a fantastic voice actor. He was the voice of both Leif and the Fox. I described their characters to him, and he worked out these two different voices for them. With my sound designer Tom Bestwick, we recorded all of the fox’s lines first, and then all of Leif’s lines. Dean just kept going, he did each line again until they were delivered in a way we were all happy with. It was the same when recording with Maggie. Because her character is the bird, she had a lot of squawks and gasps but only a couple of lines in the second half of the film when the character starts to recollect. She hadn’t done any voice acting before, but she was really great. It is actually quite tricky to get the right level of gasp for such specific events.

C8: How long did the whole process take from start to finish?

CB: It took from September 2010 until May 2011. The first four and a half months were spent on research, script, storyboard, design, making puppets, set building, set up and animation tests. Then the next four and a half months was animation, a bit more set building in between and editing.

C8: If you did the whole process again, is there anything you would do differently?

CB: Probably. I would completely rethink and develop the golden bird’s human character much further.

C8: Who or what has inspired your visual style?

CB: I’m not sure. All the things I like looking at inspire me. And I like looking at lots of things. I’m looking around my house now for clues. There are lots of illustrators who I like and who probably inspire my visual style, the one that springs to mind just now is Dave McKean. I really like his work.7. If you could give young filmmakers a piece of advice what would it be?

Do the film that you want to do, do the thing that makes you feel enlivened and don’t over think and worry about it, just do it. Do the film.

C8: What do you feel is the essence of a good collaboration?

CB: I think you must get on well with your collaborator, and maybe have a similar vision, but bring different skills to the table.

C8: What’s next for you? Any plans for the future?

CB: I plan to continue to enjoy making animations.