Tortillas la Perla started in 2016 by accident by me, Claire Creswell. I was directing a short film and couldn’t find any actors, thought of using dolls but they are rubbish – so made some puppets instead. I instantly found how expressive they were and learned (by trial and a lot of error) how to animate them. I was surprised that people responded to them so warmly. Could this be because puppets are imperfect and obviously made by a human being?
Animators are in charge of their own production in a way that almost never happens in live action film. I get great pleasure from writing the script, painting the sets, and doing the lighting, filming and editing myself. To me puppet animation is like a new language: an animated image can span the whole of society or dig deep into a person in a trice. We are in a golden age of animation at the moment and I like being a small part of it.
The puppets are mainly plasticine, about 8 inches high. Smaller than this it is hard to make expressive faces, and bigger they are too big to move and too big for the set. Though sometimes I make smaller copies for the running about. I usually make a soft wire skeleton (armature) for them so their joints move properly , and their innards are often sponge or bandage to keep them light.
My usual composer is Mark Creswell who happens to be my nephew but was also Tanita Takiram’s lead guitarist and is now working with her on something new and exciting. He also composes CDs such as ‘Burden of Paradise’ with singer Helen Watson.
The voices are done by excellent professional actors. I have worked more than once with Maggie Gordon Walker (finalist in the Funny Woman Awards 2006) Philip Clayton Smith and Rebecca Crankshaw.
Claire Creswell biog: Worked as script assistant in Canadian soap about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, had a novel published (Ten Seconds (Rapp & Whiting⁄(Deutsch) and short stories, (Faber and Faber). Won Lion d’Argent as an advertising copywriter at Cannes Film Festival , freelanced in journalism for Sunday Times, Observer and Guardian. Trained as a filmmaker at London Filmmakers Cooperative.