Just over twenty years ago, Alan Thompson, Western Australian filmmaker, photographer and web designer made a short film called Wild Room – The Desktop Jungle. It was a stop motion gem that parodied the natural history filmmaking stylings of David Attenborough’s LIFE ON EARTH series.
The way Thompson created his film provides an insight into what filmmaking was like before the digitised era of doing everything yourself with a “pro-sumer” camera and editing software. You don’t know how lucky you are, youngsters.
“The film started life as a Curtin University project,” Thompson explains, “It went from 16mm film to one-inch tape. The camera broke. This was in the holidays of 1989. Then it was re-filmed in June 1990, I got three quarters of the way through, got nervous and took it down to the film processing lab – which we had in Perth back then – and they told me the camera I was using was also broken and everything was out of synch. Then I shot it for a third time and I got a call from the lab. They told me there was a problem with the print. I went down there and found out they had painstakingly attempted to colour correct my blue-tinted night scene for day.
Then it was transferred onto low-band U-matic for it’s initial edit. That was the editing equipment at Curtin at the time. Years later it was transferred onto SP Betacam tape, so I could do my 1995 redux. Richard Mahony of Toad Hall remastered the original audio elements at that point.”
WILDROOM – THE DESKTOP JUNGLE won Thompson an WA Screen Award for Young Filmmaker of the Year and Best Animation in 1990. It played at the St Kilda Film Festival and Singapore television. However you can enjoy it’s stop motion excellence right now, thanks to YouTube. While you’re there you may wish to enjoy another Thompson animation, THE KITCHEN WASTES.