‘Stopmotion’ Star Aisling Franciosi Found Puppeteering ‘Addictive’ After Leading Horror Movie

Liem Soeng

‘Stopmotion’ Star Aisling Franciosi Found Puppeteering ‘Addictive’ After Leading Horror Movie

Aisling Franciosi didn’t want production on horror film “Stopmotion” to, well, stop. The “God’s Creatures” and “The Nightingale” alum leads writer/director Robert Morgan‘s feature debut, in which she portrays frustrated stop-motion animator Ella Blake. In the wake of losing her mother, Ella turns to her work with handmade puppets to keep her sane.

Of course, Ella descends into madness, with her constructed stop-motion world devouring her semblance of reality. In Franciosi’s own reality, however, the puppets were only a good thing. Morgan encouraged Franciosi to experience stop-motion animating firsthand to truly get into character (minus the insane horror elements). Turns out, Franciosi was a natural.

“It was really cool getting set up like a little armature for me to start doing some stop-motion animation with the puppets just so I could see the process firsthand and have a go at it,” Franciosi told IndieWire during a recent interview. “It took me like two hours to do 40 seconds worth of film.”

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She continued, “Actually, I really, really enjoyed it. I find it quite meditative and also kind of addictive. Obviously, it’s so slow and do you it in increments, so the movements are so tiny that it feels like you’re doing nothing at all. But then when you hit play on whatever number of seconds you’ve managed to do over the course of a couple of hours, you see it come to life. It’s really quite something.”

The star added, “Although it’s really a very, very slow and painstaking process, for me, as an actor, it’s quite cool to see something so immediate, like the fruit of your labor is visible quite quickly. So I definitely loved it.”

Will Franciosi, in addition to potentially producing [LINK TO OTHER COVERAGE HERE], try her hand at stop-motion animating full-time? “No,” she said with a laugh. “I realized just how time-consuming it is and the level of patience you have to have. I don’t think I would ever make anything great, but I really enjoyed the process and I can definitely see how you could really get sucked into a kind of a time warp with it.”

“Stopmotion”

As for the puppets used in “Stopmotion,” Morgan had a very personal tie to them. Morgan previously told Entertainment Weekly that he collected his own toenails for years, something that inspired the aesthetic of one of Ella’s more brutal creatures in the film. That practical effect was at least shelved for the puppets used on the “Stopmotion” set, according to Franciosi.

“I think thankfully — unless he failed to mention it to me — the puppet that we used didn’t have his toenails. But they were very slimy,” Franciosi said. “They’re covered in KY Jelly to give them that kind of very like slimy effect. Ours were not made of anything particularly real and gross, at least. Thank God for the practicalities of shooting.”

She quipped, “The meat puppets weren’t actually made of meat! People will be glad to know and I was very glad to know as well.”

Of course, Franciosi has a few meatier roles in the works, with Jamie Waters’ romance dramedy “Turn Up the Sun!” co-starring Lucas Bravo and James McAvoy, plus possibly leading Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Rothko” which has been in pre-production for years.

For now, though, Franciosi is stopping to smell the (non-toenail, meatless) roses thanks to the release of “Stopmotion.” “It’s definitely one of favorite shoots that I’ve done,” she said. And with that, onto the next.

An IFC Films and Shudder release, “Stopmotion” is in theaters now.

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