Any form of art requires a respective amount of patience. After all, rushed art often leaves the artist unsatisfied. Stop-motion animation is one of the many creative fields that requires an enduring amount of patience and attention to the craft. Catya Plate, an award-winning filmmaker, can attest to this. Plate is the genius behind “Meeting MacGuffin”, the second installment in a 3-part animated ecological thriller. The short film has 51 official selections, 16 awards, and 4 nominations in the film awards circuit and they are all rightfully deserved. Capturing a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is no more, a group of scientists constructs a new human race along with the help of a groundhog climatologist, Gormal MacGuffin.
Although short, the film is in no way lacking. From Plate’s research process to the final cut, this universe she’s created is both captivating and acts as a warning to all of humanity. The shining facet of this film is the animation. From the sets to the character’s voices to the way the characters themselves are built — everything is remarkable. Everything is handmade, a notion that is consistent throughout the film. As the new human race is constructed, a parallel is shown through Plate’s careful creation of her film. “Stop motion animation with 3D characters and sets is extremely difficult and requires, above all, an enormous amount of patience. All the puppets, props and sets are handcrafted and it takes a lot of time to make them well. In fact, it is the nature of the beast with stop motion animation that everything takes a long time to prepare and build.
The better you prepare the better it turns out at the end—but it’s an organic process and you have to stay open to changing things for the sake of the story.
“Since she has a background in sculpture, I was prompted to ask Plate why she chose the medium of animation for this film trilogy. While the origin of her “Clothespin Freaks” came to her over 15 years ago, Plate has been developing them ever since. “The decision to use stop motion animation had to do with the fact that it’s a unique way of hand making underscores my philosophy that to live in a world that is overburdened with technology will ultimately fail. “Plate’s careful attention to her craft is perhaps showcased best through her use of materials in creating her sets and characters. Her initiative to step away from a technologically advanced world prevails in her use of “feminist” materials, such as clothespins and thread — both of which are items associated with women’s work.
“My use of materials and textiles is limitless and is only dictated by what I believe is the best material to use for a particular purpose,” she says. While I haven’t seen the first part of Plate’s trilogy (“Hanging By a Thread”), her heart is clearly evident
in every frame of “Meeting MacGuffin.” Plate is genuine and passionate and this transfigures to her art, but she’s not shy to admit that she’s always learning. “Meeting MacGuffin” is more concerned with “a clear narrative about the environmental message” in contrast to its experimental predecessor. The film series is refreshing because it’s not preachy, but eye-opening. The use of animation allows this important message to be heard by its audience in a lighthearted way. Plate hopes her film can “succeed not only in entertaining and enchanting the viewer but also in opening people’s eyes by making them aware of how our human behavior has impacted our environment and our planet.” As Gormal MacGuffin himself says in the film, “Humans need to be less greedy and selfish.” Seeing this film is a necessary step in beginning that process.