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Case Study: Their, They’re, There - Salamandra.uk

Welcome to our case study on the multi-award-nominated short, ‘Their, They’re, There’. We’ve all been there. Sitting an exam, stressing about answering A, B or C, writing a couple of essays in an hour or not getting sums to add up. This short film explores the caveats of our rigid education system which benefits only 1 learning style and portrays the angst of students who don’t flourish in both exam conditions and under traditional styles/ subjects in learning.

What was the brief?

Having been approached by Resource Productions, we partnered with Director Oliver Blower and England’s Art’s Council to produce a short live-action/ animation combo. The short was created for Channel 4’s Random Acts series; a short film strand dedicated to the arts, the escape of the conventions of arts broadcasting and a showcase of the world’s boldest & most innovative creative short formwork.

What did salamandra.uk create?

The short, titled ‘Their, They’re, There’, is a media mashup between animation and live-action which conveys Oliver’s playful yet painfully honest poem about the familiar frustrations of exams and feeds into themes such as children’s mental health, learning disorders and the stigma that surround both. This is particularly poignant during the ongoing pandemic which has involuntarily shone a light on alternative teaching styles. 

What’s in the script?

The short shows a boy, Joe, who’s sitting an exam he desperately doesn’t want to be taking part in. His stream of consciousness runs wild as his frustration grows at being forced into taking the exam. His antithesis, Jess, is sitting opposite him as she whips through the paper. Joe eventually gives up on the paper, turning to draw his animated thoughts. 

“The process involved having to think about the drawing abilities and age group of the student. I had the initial challenge where the drawings would look too simple so the art style would be perceived as too young. I had to really think about the mediums used as well, which affected the line-art and transitions. A student sitting in an exam room wouldn’t have access to paintbrushes so the tools available had to be marker pens, highlighters, biros and coloured pencils.” – Marcus Bowler, animation mage

What was our favourite part?

Aside from winning awards… we loved the whiteboard segment. The smudges had to be precise during the wiping transitions. Oh, also the dog was modelled after Marcus’ own dog, Holly (the collie). It’s also been a complete honour seeing our work on channel 4’s Random Acts, later on, their website ‘I am normal’ and being able to create pro bono work for such an exciting and meaningful project.

And, what did the client think?

The short has been nominated for not one, not two but three awards: The Cardiff Animation Festival, The British Urban Film Festival and The Orlando Film Festival.