There are so many reasons to be excited about ‘Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires’. It’s a stop-motion action-horror film about a maverick, renegade, loose cannon, lone wolf, cop on the edge, who doesn’t play by the rules. Set in the grimy streets of Los Angeles in 1986, the film is a love note to the 80’s. This cop story captures the essence of classic 80's action films, swathes of neon pink and blue moonlight illuminate the sets as Chuck fights his way through hordes of the inebriated undead, delivering one-liner after another to the sounds of cock rock. A feature of this genre has never been attempted in clay before.
Chuck is unique in the animation world as it has more shots than any other stop-motion feature and utilises quick cuts and plenty of motion control to give a live-action feel. Each animator was expected to shoot a second of footage a day and to sculpt every single mouth by hand, this was done for aesthetic reasons to ensure the performance was dynamic and that expressions were specifically tailored for each shot! It gives the film a distinctive look which follows on from the short ‘Chuck Steel: Raging Balls of Steel Justice’.
The whole film was animated over 3 years, at Animortal Studio, an old warehouse on an industrial estate in Bridgend, South Wales. The 24,000sq ft site was repurposed as a state of the art studio replete with in house puppet, set & props fabrication, edit, VFX and sound recording facilities. It aimed to promote and capitalise on the incredible welsh animation talent pool which has produced many childrens tv shows such as Rastamouse, Hana's Helpline, Fireman Sam and The Gogs.
As first jobs go, Chuck was a hell of a learning curve! I’m a huge horror fan and I was lucky enough to work on it for 2 years and 8 months, from before it was a proper studio to (almost) the last frame. I learnt a huge amount from the kindest, most talented humans in the industry on how to convincingly animate gunfire, innards, vomit and gore. I’m yet to use as much fake blood on any projects since but I live in hope.
There will be an exhibition called “Meet the Trampires” running for the duration of the festival. It will include some of the amazing sets, props and puppets from the film so be sure to check it out in the Chapter foyer. I’m also hosting the “A Night with the Trampires” Talk + Q&A event in Chapter cinema 1 at 8.15pm, Friday 20th April. You can hear from Director Mike Mort, Producer Randhir Singh, Art Director Bridget Phelan and Animation Supervisor Darren Thompson about the whole production process and ask whatever burning questions you have about this crazy gem of a film.
See you there, Laura Tofarides
Check out the awesome new poster for Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires!