Soul Searcher: December 2nd 2004

Jonathan Hayes has a nice little workshop in a Bristol building mainly home to small engineering firms, complete with greasy spoon cafe. On the door is a sketch of a pneumatic sci-fi lady with a laser gun. Inside is a workbench strewn with tools, above which are three pictures of the rabbit from Donnie Darko and one familiar illustration of a screaming Banshee.

The real Banshee had been fitted with Barbie-style hair, so Jonathan’s first task was to whiten the platinum locks. The 30cm-high puppet had two rods protruding from its back via which it could be attached to Jonathan’s chest harness. He would then operate the arms with two smaller rods, whilst his close acquaintance Mr. John Moore walked along behind him operating the head and tail movements. Both puppeteers were dressed in black, complete with executioner-style hoods, and shot against a black backdrop. Colin’s job was to follow them around with a fan, blowing the Banshee’s hair about.

The day passed slowly, with many of the shots requiring alterations or repairs to the puppet. But the results were of the finest quality once the problems had been ironed out.

So what was the last shot? 409 days after Ray uttered the words “And another thirty quid out of my wages,” to a bollard in High Town, what was the final moving image committed to tape in this epic production?

It was an insert shot of the Banshee’s hand grabbing the chain link which hangs on a cord around Ezekiel’s neck. John Moore donned the Soul Searcher’s armour and cloak and since Jonathan’s moulds for the full-scale insert hand had failed the previous day, a quick make-up job was needed to allow the modelmaker’s real hand to be used. Unfortunately, even with conical Finger Mouse extensions and a bit of plasticine, there was no disguising the fact that this was a human hand. Finally we hit upon the idea of employing forced perspective, with the small-scale puppet hand in the extreme foreground and a piece of thread tied to the chain link. With the right timing between myself on the thread and Jonathan on the hand, we were able to make it appear as if the tiny Banshee hand, in the correct scale, had grabbed the link.

Wind Roll And Print. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a wrap.

Soul Searcher: December 2nd 2004