'Insomnia' is our latest Film of the Month

14 Sep 2022 in Film of the Month

8 mins
'Insomnia' is our latest Film of the Month

We are delighted to reveal that our latest Film of the Month winner is Insomnia, which was made by Ben, from Bedfordshire. Ben is the first young filmmaker to have won Film of the Month three times, following on from his films Animate in 2018 and The Seed in 2020.

Insomnia (engaging for ages 7+) is a stop-motion animation with a catchy song at the centre, that explores the ups and downs of getting no sleep.

A top class short film, both artistically and technically.

Film of the Month judge on 'Insomnia'

We got in touch with Ben to find out more about his amazing new film.

Congratulations! How does it feel to be the first young filmmaker ever to win Film of the Month three times?

I am really surprised and honoured. Thank you so much for choosing my film. As I spend so long on each animation, by the end all I can see are the errors. It is encouraging to find that some people like them.

Where did the idea for Insomnia come from?

I literally had a really bad night's sleep and the next morning I recorded my ideas as a silly song. Later, I was looking for an idea for an animation and had pictures came to my mind that fitted the lyrics. It is a jumble of images which reflects the crazy thoughts you get running round your head when you can't sleep.

The film features an incredibly catchy song. How did you get the animation to match the music so well?

This is the first film I used [stop-motion animation software] Dragonframe for, and it has a useful audio syncing tool which allowed me to sync the clay shapes and drum beats accurately, by looking at the wave form. I also knew I wanted eyeballs to turn up every time the chorus of "Bloodshot eyes" played, and so I drew out an animatic plan, with rough shapes, on paper.

Can you tell us how you recorded that catchy song all by yourself?

I use [digital audio software] Ableton Live (but you could also use Garageband) to record and edit the music. I start with drum beats, using claves, bass drum and ride to get a shuffle beat. I used a midi bass, and an electric piano in the chorus to make it sound more full. Vocals were sung into a pocket Samsung mic (USB mic) and recorded in 30 minutes, in our dining room, before anyone else woke up. The original song was much longer, but I edited it for the animation.

Do you have any new films in the pipeline?

I'm currently working on two: one is finished and I have just begun the second. Both are really different from each other, as I was trying to improve on different areas, like puppet-rigging and lip-syncing.

Can you tell us about your animation hopes for the future?

I would love to train to be a stop motion animator and I have been looking into ways to do that. A long term, ultimate goal would be to work for Aardman one day.

If you could make Insomnia again what would you do differently, and why?

I would clean up the vocals, as there is some distortion on them and the mic pops. I did try to, but it killed the life out of the song. I also think I could have modelled a better sheep! It was so small it was hard to animate.

After all this time animating you must have learned a lot. What top tips would you give to your younger self before he embarked on his first animation project?

1. Get the lighting right. My first animation was way too dark and it ruined the film. You need more lighting than you think! 

2. Get a program that lets you use live view onion skinning (where it shows you a ghost image of the previous shot so you can judge the next movement). I did not have it for my first four animations, so I had to keep taking a photo and flicking backwards and forwards to see if I had moved it too much or too little. 

3. Don't feel you have to start at the beginning. Most of my films start with the scene I am most interested in and then grow from there. I often get new ideas as I go along.

Ben'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 he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop his 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 Insomnia then make sure to check out the following films

  • Rebooted (2019, Unclassified, 12 mins) Engaging for ages 11+
    A stop-motion skeleton, desperate for work, sets out to reclaim the golden age of special effects.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, PG, 85 mins) Engaging for ages 7-16
    A stop-motion animation version of Roald Dahl's woodland tale that combines a beautiful old-fashioned aesthetic with Wes Anderson's trademark dialogue.
  • Childhood Memories (2018, Unclassified, 4 mins) Engaging for ages 7-14
    A woman reflects on her earliest memories, when she visited her homeland of Lagos in Nigeria.
  • Quarantine (2018, Unclassified, 13 mins) Engaging for ages 7-11
    A young member of a group of Morris-dancing badgers forms a friendship with a quarantined animal through music.

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