Underwire 2019: My Mother's Eyes by Jenny Wright

Jenny Wright’s animated short My Mother’s Eyes was written after the loss of her mother, in this interview she talks to us about making her film relate universally and being brutal in the editing room with her work.

How did you find your way into film making? 

Through drawing to start with rather than a desire to make films. I met an animator about 5 years ago and I had never seen work like it, hand drawn and textured. I was intrigued and inspired by his work and tried to learn myself. After failed attempts I enrolled a year or so later on the MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins where I made My Mother’s Eyes, my first film and graduation film. 

Tell us about My Mother’s Eyes…

My Mum died right at the end of the first year of my MA. At the time we had to decide what to make our graduation films about and after trying out a few ideas it seemed natural to make a film about her. The film is based on my relationship with and memories of my Mum but I always wanted it to translate into something universal that anyone could relate to.

How did you take the news of being accepted into the festival?

I was really excited to be accepted into Underwire! I remember hearing about the festival last year when our films were starting the festival circuit.

Still from My Mother’s Eyes

Still from My Mother’s Eyes

Funding in this industry can always be a challenge, how did you achieve yours?

I was lucky to be at University so budget was not a factor. I am now, however, starting to apply for grants to make new work and it is quite daunting.

What was the most challenging aspect of making My Mother’s Eyes?

Getting audiences to understand the story as I wanted them to was a huge challenge. The best lesson I learnt was to ‘kill your babies’ as our story teacher told us. It is easy, especially as animation is so time consuming, not to want to change or remove parts of the film you have already made. This, however, can be really useful. I changed the imagery at the end of my film a few weeks before our deadline and that is when it all came together.

Still from My Mothers Eyes

Still from My Mothers Eyes

Underwire celebrates female film making talent in the industry, what female film makers do you look up to? 

So many! Caroline Leaf was a big inspiration whilst making My Mother’s Eyes. I love the movement and pace of her films. Having experimented with paint-on-glass (her speciality) in my first year, I wanted to incorporate some movements inspired by the results you get with paint in 2D Animation. Sacha Beeley, a friend from my MA and a brilliant Independent Animation Director, is also a constant source of inspiration. Her work is hilarious and original. She is also featured in the Underwire programme! 

What’s the next project for you?

I have a few ideas brewing for a new film but in the meantime have a music video coming up which I am going to hand draw. It has been fun to work on less personal work for a while after such a personal project.

My Mother’s Eyes is screening in the Mummy Dearest category on Saturday 14th September at BFI Southbank. For tickets and more information on Underwire 2019 visit their website here.

You can follow Jenny on Instagram via @jw_animation and view more of her work on her website www.hellojennywright.com