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First After Effects animation made with Shroom Studios

29 Apr

I’ve always wanted a branded intro to my films. But wanting an animation and doing an animation are two different things. However, with a little bit of luck and networking I finally found a way to achieve that. Cue Music. Enter Christos and Alex Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio in London Fields, Hackney, London.

Now a question: Have you ever considered how long does it take to make a 1 second of animation?

I clearly had no idea. But in the case of the clip below (in loop) it took about 4.5 hours!!! 4.5 hours for one tiny second of a character jumping ! And that was ONLY because I had very detailed instructions and guidance from Alex Hatjoullis, who is a professional animator. I would have probably spent weeks, if not months, trying to work out how to do it myself.


All we started with, was this drawing of a character (below) Alex made after I told him about my idea for an animated sequence. How cute is she, right? A week and a one long After Effects lesson later, she is now bouncing from a trampoline and in the next few weeks she is due to do some other acrobatics too :).

Mallywini by Shroom Studio

Alex paid attention to the final detail. Just notice how her skirt lifts up and goes down and how her body stretches just that tiny bit at the top of the jump. No wonder. After all, I was working with true professionals.

Alex and his brother Christos, who I am lucky to have as my mentor at ZeroOne Creative Hub, have nearly 15 years of experience in branding and animation. They formed Shroom Studios in 2001 and since then worked on an overwhelming amount of projects, from independent art films to documentaries, commercials and political or social campaigns. They had worked commissioned by BBC and Channel 4 and their unique style of presenting content and animation style have been recreated by other animation companies.

Click on the logo to go to their website. There you will find examples of their work together with a blog, where Christos shares some of his and his brother’s favourite animations from all over the world. Shroom Studio

I got to respect and like both brothers very much.  They are both humble and generous in sharing their knowledge and helping others. They are also extremely involved within their community and value their small-business clients just as much, if not tiny bit more, as the bigger companies. They are also incredibly creative and together have an overwhelming amount of hobbies. Christos, I believe, is topping up the scale with his photography of dead insects, music composition, contemporary dance practice and even trampolining, which came very useful in designing our character’s movements. Moreover, they are both appreciative of their family and incredibly proud of their dad’s art work, who despite his advanced age still makes extremely detailed artwork on linoleum. Take a look on the photo where Alex is holding his collection of moths. Prints of their Dad’s artwork can be seen in the background. And check out Christos’ photograph of dead insects. He collects them, keeps them for years and photographs the decomposition process. Death and decay turned into beauty. A true artist.

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

I thoroughly enjoyed learning After Effects with Alex. So much so in fact, that I was still buzzing the whole of next day.

What’s more, in the breaks, Alex kept feeding my already overexcited head with inspirations for my other animation sequences. The one I had in mind for the PolinArts, the documentary about Polish Artists in London… Yes, yes, this project is still in progress. I’m clearly not a rabbit when it comes to finishing my projects. I am a turtle; but I will get to the end of the race… Eventually.

“PolinArts…” to be screened at UCL, London on 11th May

6 May

UCL- Meet Your Polish NeighbourI’m proud to announced that the shorter version of my documentary- entitled ‘PolinArts i Prometeusze’ (pol)/’PolinArts and Prometheus'(eng) will be screened during the UCL’s Festival of the Arts as part of the ‘Meet Your Polish Neigbours’ event organised the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).

The event will start at 1pm and the screening will be followed by a discussion led by Ula Chowaniec.

The best news- it’s a free entry! Hope to see some of you there.

For more information about the event and to find out about other artists presenting (including my some Polish artist from my collective LoVArts) please visit the event page:

And join the event on Facebook:

Change of deadline for PolinArts and the Outsiders, my new documentary

22 Apr

If you are following the blog, you’d noticed that the countdown to the deadline, which was positioned on the right hand side, is gone now. That is because we have recently found out that the festival we were aiming at would not serve the film very well. We have been advised by Agnieszka’s ( my co-producer) industry contacts that certain festivals are better to premier a film, than the others. That is because of the likeliness that the film will be spotted by distributors and other festival programmers. As the project gets wider publicity and gathers more interest, we were advised to withhold and submit to another, more prestigious festival, which can help promoting the film.

For us, it’s a good news. It means we have a bit more time for the edit and we can do few more interviews.  The newest artist who agreed to meet us is Slawa Harasymowicz! So stay with us and keep on reading, please :)

Schedule for the next two weeks = short film challenge

2 Apr

Easter break means few things for me- firstly, it’s a time without paid work; which sucks… However, it also means that I have time to get on with what I really love- filmmaking. So, I crack on.

PolinArts is of course at the top of the list, clearly because I hope to get it finish for the set deadline, which is at the end of the month! Help! The looooong list of smaller tasks includes:

  • organise and conduct interviews with the rest of the PolinArtists and the others from the list
  • prepare animations
  • find suitable music/composer (ideally)
  • organise interviews in Poland (but stay in UK- magic!)
  • set up Twitter for the project (scary!)
  • find a designer for opening credits (brief is already written) and for a logo/promotional materials
  • film b-rolls from London
  • log footage
  • make transcript from interviews
  • edit…

Not much, eh!?

Apart from the above, there is one or two more projects I’d like to do. I’d like to make a short film. Correction- I NEED to make a short film. It’s been too long… I have a script from a young screenwriter that’s been waiting ages for it to be turned into a decent film. The script unfortunately needs some work, but once it’s finished it shouldn’t take more than two days to film it. But organising the production will take probably most of the remaining timMallywini 2 weeks challengee.

Yet, I’d still like more. Sometime ago, I have offered to make a music video for a band I know. We discussed it last month, but there was never enough time to do it. The Easter holiday seem perfect for it…

So, a challenge begins.  Having a tendency of being over ambitious, can I actually do everything I set up for myself? Let’s hope so…

Dark Soul Night. Inner Reality – revisited

30 Mar

Last weekend I went to a two day event to interview and record work of some of my PolinArtists (Polish Artists I follow for my documentary) and make a promo for the event. I started recording on Wednesday night, filming the setting up. On Friday, I spent most of the day at the venue, recording a rehearsal to ‘Midnight Teatime Game’ an interactive performance organised by Kasia and Sebastian, two new PolinArtists. During the weekend I met few more Polish artists, including a very talented Oskar Krajewski, who will also take part in the documentary. Below I reblog a post I made for the documentary’s website ( where you can see pictures from the event.

Easter! Finally! Time to relax, rest and reflect a bit on the last weekend events when I attended Dark Soul Night. Inner Reality organised by Zuza Tehanu,one of the PolinArtists I follow. The event took place at the Vibe Gallery in Bermondsey, next to London Bridge. I was there for both days and tried to record everything that was worth of recording and more. Here is a short photo report.

Instalation by Isabella Findeisen

“Her work is usually very spatial; therefore her work is focused on space of different places, her interest is also to attract awareness of the place itself, places whom we in general wouldn’t actually give much attention in a normal day to day base.”






Performance by April Pipe, “This is it and nothing more…(a secret ballet)”

“This is it and nothing…is inspired by wabi sabi, a mindfulness practice of…

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Documentary making- my reflections so far

26 Mar

207x160_entrevista_FilosofiaCriancas_PPPolinArts and the Outsiders, or more precisely the shorter version of it, which will most probably be called PolinArts and Prometheus(es), is progressing nicely. I have almost 3 hours of footage and there will be more. In the meantime,  I thought I’d share what I’ve learned whilst working on it. You might find it useful, if, like me, you’re no stranger to filmmaking, but it’s the first time you do a documentary.

Equipment: Before shooting I did a lot of research. I checked the price and specifications of professional cameras, DSLR’s, semi professionals and consumer types. I looked at mics, light steady cams and all other types of camera accessories. I watched closely other documentaries, read blogs about the subject and looked at books. Eventually, I decided that – what matters is the content! Not the equipment (well, apart from having a decent microphone). This is why I stacked to the little HDV camera I had and focused on getting the right interviews and putting together a decent story. Having a light weight camera is very useful when doing handheld shots and, as I am filming it myself, with an automatic focus and fixed lens I don’t need to spent too much time on deciding how to shoot but focus instead on what to shoot.

Interviews: I must admit I felt very unprepared the first time I had to ask my character/subject questions. Will I ask the right questions for the information I want to get? How far can I push? Do I want stay nice and therefore friends with my subjects or do I not care? etc But before the panic could creep in and paralyse me completely, I thought: “Hold on! Everyone started somewhere! The TV presenters, investigative journalists had to also learn they craft and I’m sure that they made mistakes at some point.  So, if I have to make mistakes, I better make them now than wait till I’m perfectly ready, which may never happen”. Since then I conducted several interviews with number of people. You can’t always prepare as you don’t always know who you’re going to meet. But if you have the main idea of what your documentary is about- you’ll be fine. I will not know how well I did until I see the whole footage in the edit but until then, I carry on… improvising whenever necessary 🙂

There was another thing that I learned from conducting interviews, which I found extremely liberating. Unlike in fiction, when the writer have to come up with the lines for every character, in documentary interviewed characters take that responsibility away from the writer. If you find people that have the views you want to present, they will say them, often much better that you could ever think of.  All you have to do is to make sure that you don’t just have only ‘taking heads’ in your documentary. That’s the biggest challenge of a director! And that’s where the fun is!

First week of filming for a short documentary ‘The PolinArts’

17 Mar

The last few weeks were very busy. I attended a couple of intensive workshops, one about documentary production with Tracy Gardiner and the other one about Visual Storytelling, based on the teaching of Alexander Mackendrick, both delivered at London Film School (LFS) in Covent Garden. I will write about each in more detail in one of my next posts.  


Based on the advise given by Tracy, in order to generate funding, I decided to do a shorter version of my documentary and submit it to Koszalin Film Festival. The deadline for submission in end of April so I have less than two months. Luckilly, I found two events organised by Polish Artists that are taking place within this time and all artists agreed to be filmed. The first week is of the filming is already over. You can read about what that  time and find details on one of the events I mentioned in the documentary’s blog:


First week of filming for PolinArts- Dark Soul Night. Inner Reality