Jason Mervyn Hibbs

Restauranto: Behind the Scenes

Restauranto was a lot of fun to make, particularly because it was made in collaboration, secondly because seeing things ‘alive’ is still the most exciting thing one can do with models, and thirdly because we were drinking copious amounts of red wine.

It all began with this sketch of a half-remembered man wandering the outdoor restaurant tables in Seville, beckoning food into his mouth, and my being quite disgusted. What a prude I must be.

Since Seville and that evening was all about the atmosphere, we needed puppets that would translate well. By using only white plasticine we knew we could play with light and shadow to communicate the expressions on our characters faces.

We later decided the guys all looked the same. We added hair: facial and head…ial. Not sure why Mark wanted his puppets to be older men, though.

With that done, it was time to set up stage. This photograph demonstrates how we were interested in focus, and that we were focused mostly on the kind of wine we were complimenting the work with.

There’s some detail on the props here, you may tell the table is one piece and that its edges are scorched. We had been recently acquainted with a laser-cutter, so I grabbed some greyboard and got to work. The puppets were heavy, so the chairs actually required two pieces, the back of the chair adding support to what is essentially a stool.

It’s most pleasing that we could set this up in such a small amount of space and on a very small budget. We used inkjet transparencies to colour the light of the restaurant and tracing paper to diffuse that further.

After all the set up, we eventually got to shoot a short test. We found that there just wasn’t enough light going on in the front, as dramatic as it was looking, we needed to see the guys enjoying themselves.

Using Mark’s Super8 projector and scratched film experiments we pushed just enough light to detail the characters while retaining the mood nicely.

So we went ahead with the shooting. Drank wine and over the course of a few evenings got to the point where we needed our main character.

It nearly never happened, but we managed finally to get a tongue. It required some defrosting and cleaning, and actually some dissection. Fortunately, Mark Kenny is our resident amateur taxidermist, and had no problem performing the duty. It’s a thing of beauty, no?

I’m not sure we portrayed it as gruesomely as we had hoped to, but there you go. It was our largest expense, and it was worth it.

I hope that details all the details that anybody may be interested in. I managed to get a shot of all the guys before they were laid to rest and judging by the pizza around their lips, they had as much as fun as we did.

Obviously if you haven’t seen the short (short-short) film, and if you’re still reading, you must be wondering where you can see it. It’s here.