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James Cunningham
2011, 5m, comedy, sci-fi

It’s just another boring day in the most boring job in the world. The robot workers will do anything to get out of work, even take one of those oversized ‘you’re leaving’ cards around the factory. That’s when they discover the sinister intentions of the humans. A clever comedy comes out of nowhere, shot in one day with actors replaced by animated robots.

Produced by: James Cunningham, Oliver Hilbert, Leon Woud
Cast: Stephen Papps, Simon McKinney
The 3-week run for Shelved ended on May 30th, 2017. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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The Ten-Day Interview

5 questions with Shelved director, James Cunningham at the half-way mark.
Friday, May 19th, 2017
  1. 1 Hi James! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make Shelved?
    An amazing concept artist Greg Broadmore sent me an image of two robots, suggesting there were a couple of slackers robbing a convenience store. That was enough for the writer and I to flesh out into a story - those characters were so unique and interesting.
  2. 2 This film was written by Kathryn Burnett. What was it about the script that made you want to direct it and what was it like working together?
    She and I came up with the story together over at a bar one night. We were trying to come up with something that would work well for my class of CG students to work on. Somewhere that evening I came up with the idea of Robots being replaced by humans and that was the hook that got us both really excited. Kathryn and I have worked together a lot since then, specifically developing the feature version of this film. That is coming along, slowly. We have a great script now - 7th draft - and now just lining us the producers we need to get it moving.
  3. 3 This film seamlessly blends live action with CG robots. How difficult is that process and how long did this film take to complete?
    Doing CG robots is not too difficult, it just has to be done right and will look great. We filmed lock off shots with actors doing the performance that we would animate over, and we filmed clean plates that allow us to drop in our robots without having to do lots of paint work. The shoot was a 1 day shoot in a hardware supply warehouse. The prep before then maybe a month and already building the assets. Then after the edit it was about 10 weeks of post production. All up about 4 months.
  1. 4 What was the biggest challenge making this film and do you have any advice for indie filmmakers who want to include CG characters?
    Designing the other robots, to match the world created by the concept artist's two hero bots was tricky, that took a lot of work. The animation could have been a lot harder. We had the actors wear LED helmets that allowed us to do a single camera form of motion capture for just the heads. That gave us great timings for the performances, and our animators could just focus on matching the robot jointed rigs to the actors' bodies. Also having the actors in my 'dirty' plates meant I could edit the film and know it was working before we started any animation.
  2. 5 What's next?
    Right now you can see a few more of my films I have made since Shelved , maybe they will turn up here in this festival too. And of course the feature version hopefully!
  3. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks

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