The Short Cut is a new column on Under The Gun that showcases the careers of short film directors. Shorts are often overlooked when it comes to the entire spectrum of film, and by including interviews with the directors themselves and information about their creative efforts, this column will highlight the work of some of the category’s dignitaries that we feel deserve your attention.
A great example of “irony” would be Robert Morgan putting a DO NOT DISTURB sign on his hotel room doorknob.
Morgan has been creating some of the most impressive lurid and nightmarish visuals in the short film scene for over a decade and a half with such ghoulish gems as The Cat With Hands, Monsters and The Separation. His passion for film developed at the young age of three after watching 1958′s Fiend Without a Face, which resulted in Morgan becoming “a weird kid obsessed with monsters and the things that hide under rocks.” Since his first short (1997′s The Man in the Lower-Left Hand Corner of the Photograph), his works have attained roughly forty awards in the festival circuit and with his newest film, Bobby Yeah, that number continues to climb.
As of yet, Bobby Yeah is Morgan’s longest short at 23 minutes and possibly his most zany, with many more characters and development than its predecessors. Bobby Yeah (which will be released sometime in 2013) clearly shows Morgan’s evolution as an animator and director as the craftsmanship is far superior to his previous stop-motion, clay-based features.
I had the honor of speaking with Robert Morgan about his newest film, the inspirations that have helped shape his work and some possibilities in the future of his career. Please read through to get the scoop on Mr. Morgan and view his entertaining trailer for Bobby Yeah after the closing of our conversation!
For those that may not be familiar with your work, can you explain, in your words, what it is you do?
I make films – short ones so far – some live-action, but mostly stop-motion animation. I suppose you could call them dark or surreal or scary or whatever.
How did you get started in film making?
I studied fine art, so I was always drawing and painting, then I started getting interested in animation, so I experimented with some very basic video animation and took it from there.
Do you prefer to create in live action or animation/claymation?
I like them both. Animation is a very solitary process, which is both its most appealing and unappealing trait. I like the control of animation, but by the time I’ve finished a stop-motion film, I crave the collaboration that working in live-action brings. And then when I make live-action, I miss animation. So I try to alternate between the two.
In your show-reel, there are clips from a live action with a blonde woman peaking through a hole in a wall amongst other things. What are those shots from?
That’s from an as-yet unfinished film.
How does it feel to have the capability to thoroughly creep people out in a matter of a few minutes, or less?
I don’t really think about it. I just like to create a mood that people can get immersed into. I personally like films that feel very thick with atmosphere, so that you feel like you’re emerging from a dream when you leave the cinema. That’s what I try to do.
Where do your inspirations come from? What makes your works so twisted and terrifying?
Inspirations can come from anything – dreams or daydreams, other films or paintings, or just brainstorming ideas. It depends. The Cat With Hands was based on a nightmare that my sister had. Monsters was based on a few real things that happened to me as a kid. Bobby Yeah was just me coming up with things to entertain myself. So it’s all different.
Which of your films are you the most proud of or means the most to you?
At the moment it’s the last one – Bobby Yeah, but that will hopefully change when I make another film.
Bobby Yeah is your newest film and looks to be your longest thus far. It’s already won a lot of awards. How would you describe the film and how does it differ from your previous works?
It’s much more delirious, more surreal, and it’s funnier than my previous films. I call it my party film. It’s about a petty subhuman thug who lives in a nightmarish world and steals from the wrong dudes and gets into a really bad jam as a result. It’s just a delirious black comedy nightmare. It was the most fun I’ve ever had making a film.
Will Bobby Yeah be released on DVD?
It will get some kind of release next year, but we haven’t decided exactly what form that will take yet. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for any news relating to this.
Do you sell any of your original pieces from the films?
No. The main reason I don’t sell any of the materials is that during filming they become damaged or broken, plus I tend to re-use elements from one film to the next. I do have quite a few objects from previous films though, so I might do an exhibition one day – maybe an exhibition of some films, some paintings and objects/props/puppets from the films. Who knows?
It’s been said that you’re in the process of developing full feature length films. What can you tell us about that?
I’m developing various full-length feature projects, and shorts too – but I can’t really talk about them yet because if I get specific, it’s bound to fall through, and then people will keep asking me “so what happened to that idea about so-and-so?” This has happened to me before so I find it’s best not to talk about things until they’re definitely happening.
Is your house really haunted? What experiences have you had with the paranormal?
Well I’ve moved out of that house now, but yes it was haunted. A weird grinning white stone face appeared at a window one day. That was pretty scary.
You do a lot of painting and other art on the side. Do different inspirations go into your artwork than your films?
Sort of, yes. The paintings are much quicker to do than the films. That’s why I make them – it’s a release from the tedium of making films. But the aim is the same – to create a particular mood or a feeling that lingers.
Where can I purchase your art?
You can check the art out on my website or my Facebook page and just email me for a price if anything takes your fancy.
What’s your next big goal and what’s on the horizon for Robert Morgan fans?
Just to make more films. I’m not sure what the next one will be yet – there’s a few things bubbling away so stay tuned.
Written and conducted by: Brian Lion