The Lightbulb Thing

Animated Minds The Light Bulb Thing from Hannah Chamberlain on Vimeo.

My contribution to the Animated Minds series, ‘The Lightbulb Thing’ was recorded in summer 2003, just before I got married to Tex Dunstan, who is now, as well as being my husband, also my business partner in our two ventures, Mental Snapp and Barrage Media. I had just come from a make up test with a beauty bar in a well known department store. Suffice to say that this was the make up test that I didn’t use for my wedding, as the beautician had done me up to the nines, and I looked like Cruella DeVille. I sat in the room with director Andy Glynne recording on camera, though only audio of my interview survives, and the animator. I’m glad to see from the result that they could see through my appearance on the day, and I’m very pleased and flattered by the Pippy Longstocking style of animation which made the final cut.

Details of the sequence and the events behind it I remember very clearly. The detail of fingernails and the problematic relationship that I had with these extremities that insisted on the passing of time were documented in a poem at the time which I thought communicated the depths of my despair, but on rereading when not beset by depression, is in fact quite funny. The last lines are: “That is why my fingernails are long/They remind me of the passing of time/And everyone says ‘What nice fingernails you have’/If only they knew/The difficult relationship/Between my fingernails and me.” I never did do depression very well.

The end result of the three minute sequence, which was broadcast in the slot after Channel 4 news, was of necessity a highly truncated version of the 45 minute interview that I did. In fact it doesn’t include the meat of what I talked about, which was to recount, in as much detail as I ever have before or since, the events of my original hallucination which prompted my first breakdown. It was triggered by an ill-advised spliff, but was a long time in the offing, and featured an extended delusion in which I saw myself leaving the planet, confronting God, who was juggling worlds and spinning dice, and going out into deep space, where I saw all the stars of the galaxy, and tried to make a pattern of them. It simply wasn’t possible for Andy to edit this down to three minutes. I’ve always felt that there was an opportunity to be exploited with the rushes, but had forgotten all about the film until recently, when I was at the Design in Mental Health Conference in May 2015, and Sarah Wheeler, whose work I know well, of Dragon Cafe and Mental Fight Club, screened it as part of the talk she was giving. It was fantastic, if a bit of a surprise, to see it again, and prompted me to get in touch with Andy to ask if he still had my rushes. He was really helpful in digging out the DAT tape, and I’m delighted to say that I’ve got it transferred. With a bit of re-recording to flesh out the detail and provide an even more highly visual reference for a composer and animator, I am hoping now to resurrect this project. Ruth Barrett, my highly talented film composer friend (www.ruthbarrettmusic.com) and I are going to work together on an audio piece which we may get turned into an animation, possibly in the same Pippy Longstocking style as Andy used. I’ll see if I can get in touch with the original animator if we can get funding. We’re going to use as aural references tracks that I was listening to at the time, which includes Jamiroquai, Joni Mitchell and ‘Birthday’ by the SugarCubes, and also a film that I made with my sister, that I’m going to post in these pages in the future. It was called Beauty21, and had for a soundtrack the sound of aqualungs and heart monitors, designed originally by Terry Neale of Kick Production for a film by Nicholas Roeg called ‘The Sound of Claudia Schiffer’ but never used for that purpose, so was spare at the time that I was making my no budget movie. Ruth is totally on board with the concept and I’m hoping very much that it will be a fun job that will give us both a lot of pleasure. I can’t wait to get started.

In the meantime, here is Animated Minds ‘The Lightbulb Thing’ as it stands. I hope you enjoy it.

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