What begins as cosmological tale of artistic power slowly morphs into a darkly humorous take on the demands of a creative life. Directed by Mikey Please, “Marilyn Myller” upholds his reputation for first-rate craftsmanship while showing off his playfulness as a storyteller.
We chatted with Mikey about the project, and he shed some light on the process behind it.
Q&A with Mikey Please
Can you give us a quick synopsis of the film?
A sculptor experiences the before, the present and the after of making some art. With HILARIOUS consequences.
Where did the idea for this short come from?
Well, the first draft of the film was all about scale, about how the meaning of an action or an object can change massively when seen in different sizes or quantities. And then it became about someone trying to squeeze big ideas into their work and sucking at it. Then it became about that space between expectation and the reality of making something.
Marilyn’s struggle to make something “good” feels like a common problem for artists. Her solution to the resultant angst seems to come from the destruction of the things she creates. Am I reading that right?
That’s right, she gives in and takes the easy road, in that she stops trying to make that good thing. It’s a tragic and comic act, deciding to break the thing she loves.
At the film’s conclusion, we’re informed that what Marilyn’s doing is “kind of stupid.” Aside from being funny, I thought this was a critique of the pretentious, self-congratulatory nature of the art world — or really any world that uses exclusivity as its chief monetary system. Is that what you intended?
It’s not at all intended as a critique of the art world. I chose that context because the archetypes are so familiar and we instinctively know what everyone wants, without needing it explained.
The film’s subject is the creative process, which is a pretty abstract, potentially awful subject to tackle, so alas it needed a direct setting. Sorry art. But that story happens everywhere. It could just have easily been a film about an author or a television producer or someone building a house. It would just have needed more set up.
Where did you get the idea to have the ending sung in… is it Swahili? (I found that hilarious, by the way.)
Ha! Yes, Swahili. Well spotted. Well, as I do now often, I asked myself, “What would Marilyn do?” And she would definitely have wanted to end the film with a Swahili ballad. I wanted something both emotive and utterly ridiculous and inappropriate.
What was the most difficult part of making the film?
The last 0.5% that seems to stretch to feel another 50% of production time. Just when you think it’s all over…
I hear you and Dan are starting a new company. Tell us about that.
Yes! Parabella Studio. Dan and I have worked together a bunch in the past, but Marilyn kind of took it to another level. We were very collaborative in its production and the film benefitted massively from both our brains wrestling with how to make it. We’ve had our studio for a couple of years now and its grown into something we’re proud of, so we figured it was about time we put a face on it and use it as a platform for collaborative projects as well as our own individual ones.
What’s next for you? Working on any other projects?
What? I don’t get to retire off this short?! Ha. Yes, we’re developing more narrative content projects in-studio and keeping busy with commercial things.
Also, there is another short film, “Goodness Newness Oldness Badness,” which we’ll put online in a couple of weeks with masterful sound by David Kamp.
Director: Mikey Please
Produced by: Hornet Films, Blink Industries
Filmed at: Clapham Road Studios
Executive Producers: Peter Medlock, Michael Feder, Bart Yates, Mikey Please
Producers: Jan Stebbines, James Stevenson Bretton, Mikey Please
Animated & Photographed by: Mikey Please, Dan Ojari
With animation from: Tim Allen, Steven Warne
Music Composed by: Ben Please, Jools Scott, Bethany Porter
Sound Design: Adam Janota Bzowski
Voices: Josie Long, James Stevenson Bretton, Theodora Van Der Beek, Josephine Gallagher
Model Makers: Jen Newman, Nadia Oh, Katy Beverage, Dan Ojari, Mikey Please, Carman Mason, Anna Ginsberg, Laura Bateman
Puppets: Mikey Please, Lizzy Betdalton, Jen Newman
Set Design: Nadia Oh, Mikey Please, Jen Newman, Dan Ojari
Supervising DOP: Mathew Day
Studio Manager: Elizabeth Day
Incidental Lighting: Max Halstead
Technical Support: Toby Goodyear
Musicians: Andrew Douglas Forbes, Catherine Hurley, Emma Hooper, Benedict Please, Bethany Porter, Jools Scott, Ian Vorley, James Watts
Soloists: Amadou Diagne, Maria Danishvar Brown
Recording Engineers: Ben Please, Jack Sedgwick
Mixed by: Simon Harris @ Offset Audio
Post Production: Yussef Cole, Elisa Ciocca, Jon Gallagher, Marty Geren, Rachel Kwak, Michael Luzzi, Joey McCormick, Mikey Please, Leandro Santini, Ted Wiggin
Grader: Rachel Rardin
Developed at: Japic Residency with the Japanese Ministry for Cultural Affairs