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Singaporean short film Big Feet in the running for Tropfest

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Claire loves to run. Her father loves to win. And he’s determined to turn her into a competitor. So Claire turns to an unexpected friend for help.

Directed by Jonathan Cockett and Brad Wilson, locally produced short film Big Feet is currently in the running for Tropfest Australia, which is touted as the world’s biggest short film festival.

Sinema interviews Big Feet’s co-director Jonathan Cockett, who was inspired by an uninspiring advertising job stint for a well-known shoe company and self financed this film along with co-director Brad Wilson.

Why did you join this competition?

Tropfest is the biggest short film festival in the world so it seemed like a good place to start. We’ll be submitting Big Feet to festivals across the world.

What is the cast/crew made up of?

The film was made with the talent and support of the local industry. From local production house Lava, to Bert Tan and his Lighting House, and complete post-production assistance from VHQ. Claire was also a revelation in the lead role, having never acted before. Allan Myles also flew in from Perth to be our DOP.

How did you manage resources/budget for this production?

This project was self financed. But without the massive assistance, patience and skills from Mel Lee and her crew at Lava, Bert Tan, VHQ, The Gunnery and Allan Myles this project would not have happened. They saw potential in the script and helped us turn it into a reality.

How did the idea of Big Feet came about?

Brad and I both work in advertising and we were working on a rather uninspiring brief for a well-known shoe company celebrating a store’s 3rd birthday. Bereft of ideas we started talking short films, shoes and Carl Lewis. Before we knew it we were forming what would become our first ever short film.

Is Big Feet related to your experiences in Singapore?

The issues within Big Feet are universal. Parents across the world push their kids to be successful. But we liked the idea of a young Singaporean girl having a role model from the other side of the world which made for an interesting dynamic.

Did you have any difficulties with a particular scene or the production?

The running scenes were quite a logistical challenge given our basic equipment, but the production team were very resourceful and were able to adapt and capture some great shots. Claire and Alicia were also incredibly professional as we did make them run a lot in the hot Singapore sun.

If you could improve the production, what will it be?

It would have been good to have some more equipment such as steadycam and operator, but we managed very well with what we had. Some of the running shots were shot on a motorbike with sidecar.

What software/hardware was used for this production?

The film was shot on a Canon 5D with Carl Zeiss film lenses.

Why use Carl Lewis (out of so many other legendary runners) as the protagonist’s inspiration?

Both Brad and I grew up watching Carl Lewis run to victory after victory. His success in athletics is pretty much unrivaled and he felt like an appropriate role model for Claire.

I noticed that his gift was a pair of mannequin human feet with shoelaces. What’s the reason behind this?

Well spotted. We like to call them shoefeet. As for the ending, we prefer to leave its meaning up to the audience. It is ambiguous of course, but the box and its contents represent the notion of competition. But the shoefeet could quite possibly be in the imagination of Claire.

Any upcoming projects after this?

We’re currently working on a new script which we’ll hopefully shoot sometime in 2011. If anyone wants to help us finance the project please let us know!

Directors’ Profiles

Jonathan Cockett

As long as Jonathan Cockett can remember he’s always wanted to be a filmmaker. He’s written a full-length screenplay, which is collecting dust in a cupboard somewhere and an unpublished sitcom. But he got his first real taste of filmmaking when he worked for The National Film School in UK on various projects in various (lowly) roles. He even produced a short film when he was 21, which turned out to be a harrowing experience that confirmed that Cockett’s talents did not lie in anything organisational.

He then ditched filmmaking for a while and embarked on a career making ads, which began in London and would eventually take him to Hong Kong and Singapore. After making several ads for the likes of Tiger Beer, Ponds, Citroen and Johnnie Walker, Cockett decided to make a short film. It’s called Big Feet. He currently lives and works in Singapore.

Brad Wilson

Brad’s foray into the creative world began at the age of 5, with the commissioning of his first painting. It wasn’t long before his keen eye was captivated by the fame and glory of the advertising world. Frustrated with the lack of TV/film opportunities in advertising in Singapore, Brad took it upon himself to grab a camera and begin directing his own ads. By far the most challenging was a speculative film for pet food giant Pedigree titled ‘Dog’s Day’. The shoot involved a prosthetic dog’s tongue, a pair of testicles and a couple wire coat hangers. The star of the film, Tyson (a neutered Staffordshire bull terrier) was surprisingly accommodating.

Armed with a taste of do-it-yourself film production, a love for The Coen Brothers and a deep admiration of Roger Deakins’ craft in cinematography, trying his hand at directing a short film seemed a natural progression.

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