Makers At Heart | Mill Directors Feral Child on how they have stayed creative during lockdowns & why they favour a “hand-crafted” animation style

Community April 21, 2021

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In our Makers At Heart series, we introduce the people behind the projects to hear more about their inspirations, motivations and creative insights. We spoke to Mill Directors Feral Child, AKA Nella and Rogan, about how they have managed to stay creative during the lockdown and why they favour a “hand-crafted” feel to their work.


Tell us about a project that defines your craft and why?

Nella: The music video we conceptualised and crafted for South African artists Gangs of Ballet and Jack Parow is a great example of the type of work we love to do. We animated it in Photoshop so that we could give it a lovely handcrafted feel using pencil and paintbrushes. 

It was a lot of fun conceptually as well, working out a number of visual metaphors depicting a toxic relationship – of someone being treated as a plaything. 

Rogan: Yeah, we also had 100% creative freedom on it with the only constraints being that it had to incorporate the band’s thematic colours. It was experimental and so much fun to craft and we’d love to continue working on more conceptual pieces for sure. As Nella mentioned, the hand-crafted feel is a common thread in our work and something that we are both drawn to – both in 2D and 3D.

How do you go about bringing your personal projects to life?

Nella: We like to make sure we’re always keeping busy, so we set up personal projects that we chip away at between commercial work. We’re currently crafting some short idents as an excuse to work on some character development and cel animation. We start with a rough idea of what we want to do and then we normally storyboard it out but with this one, we actually just started filming the ideas at home and pieced it together in a rough edit that we could use as a motion reference. Then we worked on a rough animatic while developing styleframes and the character sheets. When we’ve established the character, we do cleaner passes over the animatic slowly adding all the elements from the chosen styleframes until it’s finished.

Rogan: We also recently completed a cel piece exploring the character Count Dracula and his transformations that loop seamlessly both in motion and in sound. We’re both fans of the 2020 limited series ‘Dracula’ on Netflix which was the main inspiration for this one!

What are you learning about or being inspired by right now?

Rogan: We’re currently working on a short that we hope to release by the end of this year – It’s been in pre-development for about three months now and we’re just starting to build out all the environments in 3D – It’s great to finally see it all slowly coming together – we’re so excited to share it once it’s done! 

Nella: The past year in and out of lockdowns in the UK has also not been the most inspiring as we usually take much-needed breaks in the countryside with family and friends between projects to get re-energised. However, recently we got re-inspired by Beeple’s ‘everydays’. We’ve never personally done an everyday challenge so both Rogan and myself decided to do a 30 day creative piece and see how it goes after that. It’s already been super motivating – I think it’s really helpful to just riff on ideas and styles and to not be too precious about it – the free flow nature of it is bound to turn up something useful for future projects. 

Rogan: Yeah, it also gets you out of your own head because you have to just sit down and get it done. No time to faff about!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Nella: To not be so afraid to fail and to establish healthy and long-lasting habits. It’s crazy how small habits you do every day can impact your life so dramatically – I’ve formed a habit of everyday yoga and meditation. It has already made such a positive impact on my daily routine with work and everything else.

Rogan: To not overthink it and remember to enjoy the process over the outcome. Also – generally avoid watching sequels to movies that you love.

Check out more Makers At Heart features here and get in touch regarding any upcoming projects via our contact page. You can also view more of Feral Child’s work via their Creative Talent page.