Coming full circle with Wriggles & Robins

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“We didn’t want to make it a music video.  We wanted to make a musical experiment in a film.” – Tom Wrigglesworth

“I’ll be the budgie handler,” Tom Wrigglesworth (also known as ‘Wriggles’) is trying to acquire a budgie, or parakeet, in hopes to capture a slow motion shot of the bird’s flapping wings for his upcoming film. His directing partner, Matt Robinson (also knows as ‘Robins’), is in agreement with him that the movement of the bird’s wings will be essential to the scene, which is a chess match taking place in an elderly person’s home. The two have fastened a lightweight camera to a carousel type mechanism modeled with real record player parts. The footage captured from the spinning machine highlights movements with such beauty and grace that the promise of a bird’s wings is not just exciting, but seemingly essentially. Wriggles says, “I’ll bring a budgie, I will.”

Wriggles made good on his promise to acquire the budgie, and proved to be an exceptional handler of the avian talent. He spent the night with the bird and even named him Bernard. He allowed him into his home and built up his reputation all around London. This bird was going to be a star.

When the Lincoln Motor Company asked Wriggles and Robins to reimagine the familiar for the “Hello, Again” Vimeo film series, the two had an idea of what they wanted to do, and it didn’t involve any birds (yet). “We took an object that everybody knows, and that everybody is familiar with, the record player,” says Wriggles. “And reimagined it. We looked at that from a different point of view.”

The filmmaking duo met at university in London (coincidentally, they knew fellow “Hello, Again” filmmakers Becky & Joe in school, though they were approached separately about the project) and have been working together for the last five years. Their earlier work was heavy in animation and they have only recently been working with a new filmmaking obstacle: people.

“For this, we called it more of an experiment, which I think made us feel more comfortable with the whole idea,” says Wriggles. “We’re learning a huge amount. A lot of our ideas are quite technical sometimes, and we really wanted to address a human aspect, because we’ve been really interested in that.”

Wriggles and Robins trusted their instincts. Building a record player camera, for them, was the easy part, but a large part of the film depended on the human (and bird) actors to tell the story they wanted to be told.

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“The idea was that we’d get actors who we knew could improvise really, really well. The music that we played over the top of this film is the music we played in each environment. We set them in a very loose scenario,” says Wriggles. “For example, the couple, we said ‘The girl, Ann, is going to be there at home, and then the husband’s going to arrive, and you improvise however you like.’ Then we played the music, left the room, and had the camera spinning, and just kind of left them to it, in a way. It was a bit of a risky thing to do, looking back at it.”

“We feel quite safe, I think, making technical ideas that don’t always involve people,” says Robins. “In a sense, I think the way that we’ve gone about filmmaking was reimagined in this project. That was almost kind of a side-effect, which wasn’t what we initially aimed for, but—“ Wriggles finishes his sentence. “It’s a natural progression, isn’t it?”

Wriggles describes bringing Bernard the budgie to set: “He was like the third man. He was moving, he was going out, and he was loving it. It was a big day out for him.” Wriggles spent hours carefully coaxing Bernard into a beautiful prop cage, though it all was for naught. “When we got to the location, we put him into the shot, and he just didn’t move all day long.”

And that’s the risk with experimentation, but we think it worked out pretty well.

Watch Wriggles & Robins film above or on The Lincoln Motor Company Vimeo channel.

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