'Pandora's Egg Box' is our latest of Film of the Month

01 Jun 2023 in Film of the Month

5 mins
'Pandora's Egg Box' is our latest of Film of the Month

We are delighted to reveal our latest Film of the Month winner Pandora's Egg Box, a modern reworking of the Ancient Greek tale by talented animator Ben, from Bedford.

In Pandora's Egg Box (engaging for ages 7+) all sorts of mischief begins after accidentally buying Pandora's Egg Box and bringing it home from the supermarket, told through stop frame animation.

A stunning stop frame animation and an imaginative retelling of an ancient tale.

Film of the Month Judge on 'Pandora's Egg Box'

We caught up with Ben to find out more about his filmmaking process.

How long have you been making films?

I used to make funny films with my older brothers and sister when I was really young and I watched the animations my older brothers made. I made my first animation with my sister when I was 9, on a one-day course.

Where did the idea for Pandora's Egg Box come from?

When I was 11, I wanted to enter a young filmmaker's competition. The theme was "A Senseof Hope', and I thought about twisting the Greek story of Pandora's Box which ends with Hope coming out of the box. It seemed funny to make it an egg box instead, and so I created seven deadly sin characters with different coloured eggs. Envy was green, Greed was orange, Wrath was red, Pride was grey, Gluttony was yellow and so on.

It was my first independent animation, and I made loads of mistakes, the most obvious being that the lighting was too dark. I remade it when I was 17, as I still loved the idea but could improve it as I was older and better at animating.

I kept all the deadly sins in their original colours but added War, who is purple and explodes, because it is in the original Greek story. Hopefully, you can work out each vice from the way they are acting. Also, this time Hope is human, and has had practise at keeping the Deadly Sins under control.

How did you make Pandora's Egg Box?

The kitchen is made of white foamboard stuck onto a wooden frame, which the lights are attached to. I use three garden security lights which are each 600 lumens.There were two sets of props: tiny versions to be in scale with the kitchen and puppet, and then life size versions. The Sinsburys, Vice Crispies and Self-Praising Flour labels were photoshopped and stuck on the boxes.

The character is built around an Anibild 3 rig, which is wrapped in bandages. The jumper was made from a sock and the hair was dyed merino wool tops. The head was made of porcelain coloured Fimo which was shaped and baked around an egg.The eyes and eyebrows are Fimo stuck on with Bluetack, so that they could move.

I filmed using a really old Nikon camera and Dragonframe 4, then edited on Davinci Resolve. I recorded my own sound effects with a dictaphone and composed music and recorded that on Ableton Live 11.

How long did it take to make, and how did you keep motivated?

I had researched lip-syncing and puppet rigging for my Extended Project Qualification, which had a strict deadline. That meant I had to be really organised and had to stick to my schedule to finish it on time. If you include researching how to lip-sync and different ways to rig puppets, then about six months but making the animatic, model making, filming and editing was about three months of that.

Are there any filmmakers who influenced Pandora's Egg Box?

The retreating camera shot, when Hope first sees the Vices messing about on the counter, was inspired by the shot in Jaws, when the Sheriff first spots the shark.

Other than that, I was trying to build an element of suspense, using lighting, weirdsounds, and mysterious darkened shapes in a way most thrillers do. That way, when the brightly coloured Vices appeared, it would break the tension in a funnier way. I planned the camera angles to keep changing to add interest, sothere were close ups and overhead shots.

What top tips would you give to a someone who's about to make their first animated film?

These ten tips made my films better!

  1. Use lots of light, from different directions to avoid shadows.
  2. Keep watching your film back and look out for things that should not be there, like a hand in a shot.
  3. If you want something to look slow, then only move it a tiny amount between shots. If you want to make it look like it is fast, then move it bigger amounts.
  4. I use 12 frames a second, so after 12 photos I have a second worth of film. Be patient. Filming 10 seconds a day is good!
  5. Check what is in the background before you film. Make sure there is nothing that will distract, for example a tilted horizon or a bit of rubbish.
  6. Stick down anything that is not meant to move. It is easy to knock scenery by accident when moving your puppet, and then it looks weird wobbling about in the scene.
  7. Some animation programmes have onion-skinning, which shows a shadow of where the object was on the last photo and that can help you judge how much to move something. It is possible to animate without it and I only had it for my last two films. It will make it easier.
  8. Show people your film. Sometimes it can feel like the story is obvious because you know it, but it does not make sense to others.
  9. Adding sound effects makes a film come alive. Appropriate thumps, rustle and squeaks make an object seem real.
  10. Enter competitions as the deadlines will help you finish a film. Into Film Film of the Month is a brilliant one to enter. Also, you will want to make it as good as possible as other people will see it and you will get feedback which will help you improve.

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, they have also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop their filmmaking. 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 Pandora's Egg Box then make sure to check out the following films:

  • Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) PG, 102 mins, 7+
    Kubo is a young boy living in a small, seaside village in ancient Japan who enjoys telling stories to the local residents. However, this peaceful existence is suddenly shattered when a vengeful spirit of the past resurfaces.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG, 74 mins, 7-14
    Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, a place where residents are employed to scare humans witless every Halloween.
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (1993) U, 29 mins, 5-11
    From the British animation studio Aardman Animations, this is a stop-motion comedy classic featuring the good-natured and cheese-loving Wallace and his loyal dog Gromit.
  • Big Hero 6 (2014) PG, 98 mins, 7-14
    Hiro is a robotics wiz. However, when tragedy strikes, he has to use his skills for much more serious and dangerous purposes.

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