'Dreams of Mars' is November 2020's Film of the Month

10 Dec 2020 in Film of the Month

9 mins
'Dreams of Mars' is November 2020's Film of the Month

We are delighted to announce that November 2020's Film of the Month winner is the enchanting animation Dreams of Mars, from filmmaker Velvet, in Bristol. See her winning film above!

Dreams of Mars (engaging for 7+) is an inspiring stop-motion short that sees a young woman fulfil her dreams of travelling to Mars with an all-women astronaut crew.

What a beautiful, hopeful and genuinely inspiring film! As well as having a lovely message that's clearly conveyed and teamed with appropriate music, this is an incredibly impressive first animation filled with great details!

Film of the Month judge on 'Dreams of Mars'

We got in touch with Velvet to find out more about her film

Congratulations Velvet! How long have you been making films?

I've only recently started making films. Dreams of Mars was my first, but I have been playing around with the app Stop Motion Studio on my Mum's phone since I was tiny. I used to make little scenes with my Playmobil toys and put voices on them when I was about five. I am now 12, so actually in a way I have been making little films for 7 years.

How long did you spend on Dreams of Mars?

I made it over the space of two months, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, when I wasn't allowed to go to school. I worked out it took me 48 hours in total.

There is a strong female front to your film. Are there any women that really inspired or influenced you?

Yes! Lots and lots! Greta Thunberg, because at such a young age she has already done so much for the world. She has done more to help the planet than most of the male Presidents and Prime Ministers have. I love how she sees the fact that she is neuro-atypical not as a disability, but as a gift. This is such a great message to everyone. 

Michelle Obama is also a huge influence on me. I recently read her autobiography and she is such a brave, upfront, compassionate woman, who does so much to encourage girls of all colour, ability and sexual orientation.

Another incredible woman who I really admire is the scientist, architect, and designer Neri Oxman, founder of Material Ecology. She is from Israel and has used a combination of art and science to redefine the world of architecture, fashion and transport, taking her inspiration from nature. I love her creative mind and how she believes we can learn from nature, rather than try to control it.

There are some lovely intricate details in your film. Did you create the drawings of spaceships yourself, or did you look at designs?

I created the drawings from my imagination. I had just finished a really interesting biology project on biomimicry, which I found so fascinating, and is something I want to get involved with in the future. It is when we take examples of design from nature and apply it to our world.

Some examples of animal architecture - like bee's honeycombs or termite mounds - inspired me to draw the dwellings on Mars. This is how I imagine a future sustainable dwelling might be. 

Weirdly, towards the end of making my movie, I watched a Netflix docudrama set on Mars and there were some similarities in the architecture they designed, like a central green dome full of plants.

What message would you like audiences to take from your film?

That women and girls can do whatever they set their minds to, no matter what anyone else says. I wanted to give a really positive message to girls everywhere that the world is changing fast, and this is our moment!

Are you planning to make more films in stop-motion?

Yes, I am actually working on my next movie right now. It's a protest movie. I'm not going to tell you too much about it, but it also has a positive message. I've also been commissioned to make a music video in my stop-motion paper style for a family friend, Bill. The song is called Humming on Sunny Days and is really happy and uplifting.

Did you face any challenges when making Dreams of Mars?

Probably my biggest challenge was getting the rights to the amazing song, A Million Dreams. The composers - Pasek and Paul - kindly gave me permission to use their track, but Disney, who owned some of the rights, said I needed to find a different piece of music as it would be too expensive to get the rights. I explained that I made the movie specifically to this track so it was really important, and kept on writing to them until eventually they agreed to let me use it!

Another challenge was that it takes a LOT of patience to do stop motion.

What tips would you give to filmmakers about to make their first stop motion film?

My three top tips for other young filmmakers are:

  1. Stay true to your own style and don't be afraid of it not being perfect. I was worried that some of my animations were too wobbly or jerky, but people seem to like that!
  2. If you find a piece of music that really inspires you - like I did - don't compromise. You might get knocked back at first, but keep trying and eventually you might find a person who understands why it is so important. 
  3. Stop motion takes a long time, but it is so rewarding when you see pictures that are in your head come to life with no real special equipment, just pens and paper and scissors! When you lose motivation just picture the end result and keep going. It will be worth it!

Are there any films that influenced Dreams of Mars?

I feel that Dreams of Mars is a very original film and I wasn't directly influenced by any one film. But I love animation films! My favourite animated movies are the Studio Gibli films, like My Neighbour TotoroSpirited Away and Kiki's Delivery Service. I grew up watching all of the amazing Aardman animation films, like Shaun the SheepChicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. I am from Bristol, where they are made, so how could I not love them?!

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

It is such an honour to be selected for Into Film's Film of the Month! My message to other people thinking about making their first movie is just go for it! If I can make a film in my bedroom with an old iPad with a shattered screen and a music stand for a tripod, then you can too! I hope you enjoy watching my movie as much as I did making it.

Velvet's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and she has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop their future films. Think you could win Film of the Month? Find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you've been inspired by Dreams of Mars then make sure to check out the following films:

  • I Am Greta (2020, 12A, 102 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    Intimate documentary following the influential environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her quest to prevent climate change.
  • Valentin (2002, PG, 81 mins) Engaging for ages 7+
    Tender Spanish-language drama about an eight-year-old boy who dreams of becoming an astronaut.
  • Hidden Figures (2016, PG, 127 mins) Engaging for ages 11+
    Heartening drama based on the true story of three Black American women who rose through the ranks of NASA during the Civil Rights era.
  • Missing Link (2019, PG, 95 mins) Engaging for ages 7+
    An ambitious explorer discovers a talkative, lonely creature, beginning an adventure that takes them to a mythical land.

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