Interview with Trevor Hardy director of Busker

It's tough to be a busker, especially on a bitterly cold day when a snowman is your only company. And when the only passer-by has nothing to give you, it feels even tougher.
Trevor Hardy's Busker takes us to the South Pole and follows a banjo-playing penguin. Behind the apparent simplicity of this short lie a carefully crafted stop-motion animation and a poignant message that goes far beyond the story.

The story and its message could be told in many ways. Why did you choose to have penguins as protagonists?

Yes, it could be told many ways, this is true. I felt it had to be somewhere cold and that lead to the Antarctic, then it just fell into place that it would be penguins. It could have been someone at a bus stop that gives the poor man his coat and hat, but I wanted it to have an element of fun too. Also, penguins are great, they look great and they are a treat to animate.

The sentence at the end of the short comes from a real life experience. Is Busker a result of that, or were you already thinking of dealing with this topic (empathy/ solidarity...?)

The sentence at the end was an add on, Busker used to just finish when the penguin waved goodbye. It was a short that I made as a 'Christmas' film to promote 'good will to fellow man' and all that Crimbo stuff! Christmas had passed and I was walking in Brighton, UK and I stopped and talked to a homeless guy. I was hungry, so I went to the chip shop and got us both a bag of chips. Once we had finished talking and I was walking away, he said that to me. Then a while later the Filminute competition came around again and I thought, "I know, I'll send in Busker". I watched it again and thought what the homeless guy said to me suited the ending. So the story and point kind of fell together really. 

The simplicity of your story (compared to the importance of its message) makes it extremely accessible. Is that something you aim for in your work?

I think so, yes, I always like to tell a short story like Busker a message. Without dialogue, it travels further, becomes more accessible as you say. So I guess, getting a message across without words means your visuals have to be clear, so I tend to spend most of my time trying to think of the clearest 'Visuals' to tell the story. Even with Busker, I wasn't sure if people would see that the penguin gave the busker penguin his hat and scarf, so I am pleased that they obviously do.

Are you working on any other projects? What's next for you?

Yes, I am currently working away in the FoolHARDY Films studio. I have a few projects on the go, some paid, others, er, well....not! So is the life of being creative. I tend to spend more time trying to get work then I do actually doing it, he he. That's the strange thing about doing this kind of work, you have to spend endless hours, with no pay sending people ideas, scripts, concept drawing etc....with the hope/belief that they will be impressed enough to say, "Oh yes please, and make us one of those". So I do have a few projects on the go as I said, I am writing/making a short series/pilot for a web series I would like to get off the ground. I have completed three other short films that are currently doping the festivals...I am working on another short children's show/idea called Ghost Boy. In the new year I am going to be making some more Watermill Farm episodes, which are the one minute interstitials I make for Nickelodeon's Nick Jr channel...there is also the possibility of a music video I think. So yes, busy, busy here at FoolHARDY Films. Thank you for asking me these questions and for whoever is taking the time to read them, THANK YOU!

15 September 2014, by Chiara Puntil