'Odd One Out' is April 2021's Film of the Month

25 May 2021 in Film of the Month

13 mins
'Odd One Out' is April 2021's Film of the Month

We are delighted to announce that April 2021 winner of our Film of the Month competition is Odd One Out, a short film from four filmmakers/animators scattered around the UK; Louise from Falkirk, Anas from Southampton, and Phoebe and Daisy from London. Watch their winning film above!

Odd One Out (Engaging for 7+) sees a colourful human in a world of black and white given the opportunity to change themselves and be like everyone else - but at what cost?

This was a very unique and engaging story, with an important message about being yourself.

Film of the Month judge on 'Odd One Out'

We got in touch with the filmmakers to find out more about their amazing film!

How did you all get into filmmaking?

Anas: When I was younger I loved watching films; I would always want to recreate what I saw. I remember getting a Nintendo 2DS which was the first device that allowed me to film and make stop motion videos. I would then edit the videos on Microsoft Movie Maker and ever since then I've been making short films as I slowly advance my equipment.

Daisy: I became infatuated with films when I was a kid. The movie Back to the Future was re-watched so often in my house I can still quote it word-for-word. However, when I was around 12 I discovered my passion for editing. I would take clips from shows/films I loved and create a condensed story, showing an appreciation for the parallels and moments I loved. I did this for years and I slowly realised that is what I wanted to do with my life - create stories, piece by piece. 

When I was in year 11 and looking for possible colleges, I found a place called London Screen Academy. It is a specialised film college created by the film industry. I have been so fortunate since studying at LSA. I have found amazing opportunities, like the BFI project that led to Odd One Out, and also amazing people to create even more films and projects. I know now just how much I fit into the film industry and I know it is what I am meant to do.

Louise: I always had a love of Pixar films when I was younger and loved making short films with my cousins and brother, but I never realised that I could do it as a career until I was persuaded by my English teacher in S1 to take Media Studies. I later got accepted to the Into film YAC programme where I was able to learn more about the film-creating process. After experimenting with some animation for a book trailer competition and a charity advert, my media teacher introduced me to the BFI Specialist Courses and I was accepted onto the 2021 animation course where I met this awesome group and created Odd One Out. I can't imagine ever leaving the industry now.

Phoebe: When I was younger, I used to watch movies constantly, especially animated ones, and picked up a passion for art from that. From there I developed a taste for animation and general filmmaking. It was a great way to get out my emotions and represent things that I believed in, or generally wanted to see come to life. I think my love for filmmaking was accentuated when I made my YouTube channel, approximately at the age of 12. I'd make small, silly animations for myself and other people, and the idea of having an audience or people that genuinely enjoyed my content felt extremely intimate and something that I became engrossed in. Four years later I've been met with so many incredible opportunities and support systems, all of which seemed to stem from those small, seemingly insignificant moments from when I was younger and just starting up.

The credits highlight a very collaborative effort in the creation of Odd One Out. Can you tell us how you all worked together?

Anas: The collaboration was one of my favourite parts about making this short film. We were able to collaborate by separating and sharing out the work between us. For example, in one shot Louise animated the character and designed the background, and I then worked on the composition of the shot by combining the two and adding camera movement. We also had a shared Google Sheets file which outlined each shot and the processes that needed to be completed. We had a red, amber green system, where red meant no one had yet started trying to complete the task and green meant the task had been completed. This system allowed us to be effective with our time and acted as a visual representation of our improvement, as the file gradually became all green.

Daisy: This is probably the most unique part of our film, to be honest. We had to complete the entire animation virtually, over Zoom and Discord. This meant we collaborated in very unique ways. Luckily, the style and story was well-equipped for this style of creating. Being able to individually animate our styles and sections and then collate them together at the end meant we had both our own freedoms but also a solid connection to the team. I loved being able to learn from the amazing people I worked with. I had never done animation before this course and Louise and Phoebe were so helpful in my process. Anas also did an amazing job producing the final cut and organising us all. It was a huge team effort and I think we have a unique connection, despite never having the opportunity to meet officially, yet.

Louise: It's kind of funny because we've never actually met. The BFI Animation Course where we completed Odd One Out was purely virtual so we've only ever socialised through Zoom and Discord calls. We began with idea prompts and a big group of 40, and after some voting, Anas, Daisy, Phoebe and I were put into a group together to work on the skeleton of a story I had created. I couldn't have done it without them, as we all specialised in different aspects of filmmaking and were a really well-rounded group. The story was sketched out properly, roles were assigned and after a week of production, the final film was created! Hopefully one day we can meet up so I can prove that I'm more than just a virtual head and shoulders!

Phoebe: The creative process we followed was great, albeit stressful at times. But it was so fun and pleasant to work both with my group and the tutors. The way we communicated and the different things we achieved through different means was fantastic.

What do you think are the main causes of young people feeling like they need to change? What messages do you hope people take away from your film?

Anas: To me, I think the message is that you will never be satisfied, no matter how much you try and change yourself. It's an issue that's stemmed by the illusion of the perfect outer appearance; you have to be content with knowing you will never fully be satisfied with how you look.

Daisy: Being a teenager nowadays adds so many layers to how you should look and act. Social media, as well as schools and just generally going through puberty... it all creates a huge stigma around embracing who you are. I think that it is so important to realise how beautiful every soul can be and that no one should change for other people, only for themselves. The film is attempting to show how peer pressure can influence people to change and possibly harm themselves, but if you have the right mindset, you can discover how you glow in who you are already.

Louise: I think the worldwide idea that there is one ideal personality or body that we must learn to mould ourselves to is really toxic. I think this idea has become more of an issue due to social media's constant influence, and so I hope people take away the message that being different is beautiful!

Phoebe: I feel like people get caught up in some materialised obligation to fit in, especially young people. They don't tend to give each other the opportunity to create their own unique identity without self-deprecation and adults can only offer so much support and understanding in helping them. In modern society, there is such a severe sense of societal pressure to conform or follow trends, and young people aren't given the chance to escape that social construct to find out what it means to be themselves. It takes a lot of self-realisation and self respect in not caring what people think of you and understanding that you are enough as you are. You have to spend time in your own company to feel comfortable with who and how you are. 

I hope that young people can see themselves in our character and realise that they are capable of feeling comfortable with themselves and that it does take time and new, scary experiences but eventually, it is inevitable that you will learn who you are and you don't need to change yourself for anyone.

I hope that young people can see themselves in our character and realise that they are capable of feeling comfortable with themselves.

Phoebe - young filmmaker behind 'Odd One Out'

Were you influenced by any films or filmmakers when making Odd One Out?

Anas: We were inspired by Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, mainly because it included many different animated styles. It was fun to mess around with the different styles and how they could be implemented in our short. We had loads of ideas for different styles but we were able to narrow it down to only a couple in the end.

Daisy: At the beginning of the project we all agreed that we would take on a vintage style of animation for the world surrounding our character. This way he would stand out being pink. For my personal animation styles - the pixel art and the VFX doodles - I knew I wanted to try out a simple animation style that could be a good learning curve, but the doodles were actually inspired by a previous BFI animation project. I had discovered an extremely adorable film called Heaven and Hal, where the majority of animation was that style of overlaying doodles. I think it allowed for me to bring my own personal experience in editing to the character.

Louise: Most of us grew up watching cartoons, and some of the best characters in history are mostly mute; Gromit, Tom & Jerry, Stitch, and WALL-E to name but a few. I think that's something that really shaped our story, the immediate decision to make the character's non-speaking, as we focused a lot more on the different ways to express emotion through dramatic animation styles.

Phoebe: The concept art for our multiple styles was based off of stuff like Adventure Time and Midnight Gospel. We wanted to try something different, without dialogue, to see how much emotion we could evoke in a silent character and how people could relate to this character who looks and sounds nothing like them.

If you could make Odd One Out again, what would you do differently and why?

Anas: I would slow the short film down at certain points, just because I feel like the pacing may have needed it. I would have also liked to spend more time on it. Extra time would have allowed us to polish every element of the short film, from the sound effects to the animation.

Daisy: I think I would have wanted to have included more to the story. The premise and final project are something I'm really proud of, but I feel like because of how little time we had to create the final film, we trimmed the project down. If we had more time, I would have loved to have included another animation style or two.

Louise: I think if we did it again with more time I would extend the beginning. We had to shorten it to a quick walking sequence, which drew less attention to our idea to have the character begin glowing pink and have that glow slowly fade as they got sadder. Perhaps with a slight back-story of the character losing their glow as they age over the years, the ending of them accepting themselves and getting back their glow would have been more impactful. That way, not only would it show them defeating their bullies, but also their own internal bullying and negativity that had built up during their childhood.

Phoebe: Potentially more backstory/character development. There was and is so much potential for this short film, but we didn't get too specific with a backstory because we needed the audience to be able to relate, to an extent. I think a sense of loss would have been good to add, as normally there's a reason that people end up alone. It could have been due to circumstances, or their own behaviour, and seeing how that played out with our movie could have been really good. I'm really proud of the final film, but expansion of the story would have been incredible

Do you have plans to make more films, either individually or as a group?

Anas: I have many short films I am currently working on, all at different stages of production. I'm generally trying to diversify my skills in different areas like VFX and also different types of media products, like promotional materials for companies.

Daisy: I am so lucky to already have an amazing group of young creatives I work with. We run a small student-based creative Instagram, currently focusing on documentaries. We are hoping to expand our styles to include fictional films, too. Our upcoming project include the continuation of our docu-series Growing up in the Greenbelt, a music video involving a dance soon to be choreographed, and a feature-length documentary looking at the lack of trans healthcare in the UK. I am actually hoping to direct the music video, which will be my first experience taking lead on a project for our team.

Louise: Yes, over the summer I hope to focus on making some live action short films with my schoolfriends. I want to focus on the topics of self acceptance and the importance of Pride for young people, and am also very excited to play around with unique compositional techniques to make my films visually interesting. In terms of as a group, I'm sure we'll create things together in the hopefully less busy future!

What tips would you give to a young filmmaker about to make their first animated short?

Anas: I would say just do it. Don't spend too long waiting - especially when you don't have the experience. The worst that can happen is that the short film fails, and failing can be successful as long as you learn from it. 

Don't try and make a short film that is unmakeable. Be practical with what you have. Don't be too ambitious to the point in which you forget about your limitations.

Finally, I would say don't have extreme expectations. I think we all want to produce something that's good, but sometimes you aren't going to. Your first short film will probably not be your best. There's no need in setting high expectations which will never be met. By having this mindset you won't be as disappointed in the short film and you will have a more optimistic outlook. 

Daisy: Experience is not everything. I went into this project with basically no experience in animation and I was able to produce work I am really proud of because I took a huge leap.

Find the right people. A good team is the key to success. This isn't to say you can't create a project by yourself, but I find surrounding myself with unique and drive creatives inspires me to be better and to push myself.

Pace yourself and enjoy the ride. There is no point stressing yourself out for something you want to be proud of. Creative projects allow for you to let the inspiration take you on a journey so don't push yourself if you can't animate it every single day. Take breaks when your brain and body tells you, and when you come back your work will be better for it.

Louise: Just because the film's message is big, doesn't mean the film has to be. Sometimes the most simplistic films have the best emotions and messages behind them. Playing around with unique approaches or no dialog can make the messages more subtle and more relatable to a larger group.

Don't get bummed out if your ideas don't work out! One key part of filmmaking is learning from your mistakes and adapting. The more mistakes you make the better you get at problem solving!

Have fun! Creating a fun working environment for you and your team is key to creating a final film that you are proud of and helps prevent burn out!

Anas, Daisy, Louise and Phoebe'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 they have 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 Odd One Out then make sure to check out the following films:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (2018, PG, 117 mins) Engaging for ages 11-14
    A film that uses a dizzying array of different animation styles sees numerous Spider-Man incarnations from different dimensions team-up to defeat villain Kingpin.
  • Lilo and Stitch (2002, U, 82 mins) Engaging for ages 5-11
    Animation about a strange little being who escapes from the prison of his evil creator and goes to planet Earth, where he pretends to be a dog.
  • Tomboy (2011, U, 79 mins) Engaging for ages 7+
    An understated, gentle French drama about Laure, a child struggling with her gender identity and trying to make friends in her new neighbourhood.
  • Wonder (2017, PG, 113 mins) Engaging for ages 7-14
    A young boy born with facial differences begins attending school for the first time and must discover things about his identity whilst helping others do the same.

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