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The Man With The Eye At The End Of His Finger Poster

The Man With The Eye At The End Of His Finger (2021) 10.0

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General Information

Completed On: 16 Jul, 2021

Director: Guy Newmountain

Duration: 20 min 6 sec

Genres: Animation, Experimental, Fiction, Short

Language: English

Country: United Kingdom

Submitted By: Guy Newmountain

Festival Rating 7.5

A sad and lonely man hides away in complete isolation, victimized for having a glowing green eye at the end of his finger. Eventually, poverty and a craving for company lead him into the city in a quest to prove friendly and useful. Owing to his unusual appendage, he experiences a variety of disasters and hostility whilst exploring different career vocations (from a dentist to a teacher, a spy to a chef); however, along the way, he also gathers an equally quirky, yet ideal, family of his own. Unexpectedly, the title character becomes celebrated as a hero when he finds a novel way to save the townsfolk from an impending disaster; and ultimately finds the happiness he sought and his own unique niche in the world.

  • Directors
    Guy Newmountain
  • Producers
    Guy Newmountain
  • Writers
    Guy Newmountain
  • Film Type
    Animation, Experimental, Fiction, Short
  • Genres
  • Runtime
    20 minutes 6 seconds
  • Completion Date
    16 Jul, 2021
  • Production Budget
    0 GBP
  • Country of Origin
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming
    United Kingdom
  • Film Language
  • Shooting Format
    AmigaDos DeluxePaint IV
  • Aspect Ratio
    16:9 (Active area 4:3 approx)
  • Film Color
  • Student Project
  • First-time Filmmaker

Director's Statement

Having begun work on this piece in early 1994, aged 27, saving each individual segment to floppy disk, It is hard to put into sufficiently coherent words just how tortuous and convoluted the journey to completion of this project has been - I am now 56… More or less everything that could go wrong - has - over the years; from an inadvertently plugged in vacuum-cleaner’s voltage-surge frazzling the hard drive of the ancient computer involved, to the almighty struggle to actually release 27 years’ work trapped inside it like a genie in a bottle. For a while I truly feared being an utter laughing stock and object of ridicule, having spent half my life on something that actually would never come to fruition… Running on a standalone operating system, AmigaDos, which was completely incompatible with either Microsoft PCs or Macs, it preceded even the modern Internet in the UK; and it is nothing short of a miracle that this film is even seeing the light of day! Forget the software being hopelessly obsolete, even the hardware itself stemmed from the “beige” era of computing, with the knowledge of how to maintain and repair it in the hands of fewer and fewer trustworthy techno-savvy aficionados. It really did become a race against time: such was the infinitesimally slow rate of progress, I realised there was a high chance that either I might die before completing the film, or the technology itself would become so redundant as to make it nigh-on impossible to proceed any further, should the heavily souped-up version of the standard Amiga 1200 (which I had bespoke-built a decade or so ago) give up the ghost. In the end a 25-year Teaching career had to fall by the wayside; I devoted the whole of Lockdown and in fact the past 3 years to finishing the animation with zero income, not even benefits or furlough. Only thanks to the perseverance and generosity of the wonderful staff at Leicester’s Retro Computer Museum, to whom I turned in despair, was a successful video-capture of the footage finally achieved in HD.

There are some 17,000 drawings involved, many of which feature multiple picture elements all moving simultaneously: for example in just one 10-second sequence alone, 29 different sea creatures cross the same shot… The wonderful thing about animation is that literally anything is possible - it always is; it’s just the working out how to go about it that’s the tricky bit! One has to be a very methodical, plodding, procedural grafter; often you almost have to work backwards, beginning with the end goal you seek to achieve with each shot and working away from that in a logical pattern to a starting-point. It also helps if you have the innate ability to think sequentially - and above all, I suspect (despite never having been officially diagnosed!) to be significantly OCD and/or on the Autistic spectrum! Many areas of fascinating research have been involved, from visiting a practising dentist to ensure correct depiction of X-ray procedures, to studying the workings of the original Gibson ticket machine used by bus conductors back in their heyday on the London RouteMaster double-deckers!

So primitive was domestic-level animation back in the early 90’s that I used a 4:3 Aspect CRT TV to work on; the flicker-rate of affordable standard VGA monitors back then was so disturbing to the eye, it made it impossible to work in Hi-Resolution, so the whole film is Lo-Res. It’s fair to say the project fought me every step of the way - when you think that, before conversion to HD, my entire 20-minute film took up a minute 242Mb of memory - tiny by today’s standards - yet the entire hard drive of the standard machine was just 120Mb: I pushed the Amiga to its absolute limit in pursuit of my vision. DeluxePaint IV, despite its revolutionary AnimBrush tool (which allowed you to ‘pick up’ any created group of moving frames on the end of your brush and paste them down wherever you wanted), is sadly not a vector program, meaning that each time you need to rotate any shape or scale it up or down in size, the rectangular pixels distort monstrously, requiring the whole thing re-tracing. Not only that, if you want any level of smoothness to your graphics at all via the Anti-Alias setting, upon filling the resulting shapes with colours, all the individual grey tones used to ‘smooth’ the effect would then show up on the outlines, requiring literally pixel-by-pixel individual colouring, one mouse-click at a time, to ensure your colours give the impression of feeding right up to meet the lines. Even then, several passes over the same black Bezier curve are often required to fashion anything even approaching smoothness; much of this highly-laborious procedure would not only be unknown to others but would make no sense whatsoever to all but the most experienced working with that very software. I swear if I had a pound for everyone who tried to dissuade me from continuing with the process and who wondered why on earth I didn’t just retrain on more modern, faster, smoother software, I would be a rich man; but I knew that would change the “look” of the entire thing; having come so far, I just had to see it through to ensure an overall visual coherence from start to finish - and while it may lack ‘polish’ in comparison to the slicker faultless CGI of today, I do think it holds a certain unique “retro”-quality as a result; and a degree of atmosphere that it probably wouldn’t possess otherwise. So it’s truly been an exercise in dogged persistence - and never, ever giving up on your dream!
There’s a certain autobiographical element I cannot deny in the story; several people have asked me over the years, “Is The Man With the Eye At The End Of His Finger - you?” - and while of course, he himself is a totally fictional creation with his magical eye, in terms of the character’s solitude, his “not fitting in” - I most certainly do identify with that sense of never really belonging to any group, no matter how welcome they seek to make you, etc. So I would say he is effectively an outward embodiment of how I myself have often felt - on the inside.

In terms of the other characters who appear in the film, I came to realise several years ago that this would, if only because of the duration of work involved, probably stand as the single most significant creative endeavour of my life. As I had several crowd scenes to populate, by way of a small nod of gratitude to many of those who had meant something to me over the years, I decided to invite those I knew from different walks of life to each pose for a set of photos I could use for visual reference. As well as the imaginary fictional protagonists, some 85 real people are now also depicted in cartoon form, from my Mum Dad and brother, to both sets of my late grandparents, all my cousins, my uncles and aunts, friends from college days, a few ex-girlfriends, plus many unrequited loves, the man in the local fish-and-chip-shop, even all my three labradors from childhood to the present were utilised for the dog in the film! A good friend of mine whose husband was tragically killed in a cycling accident was also (albeit in cartoon form) brought fleetingly back to life by way of animation, so a certain wish-fulfilment is active here: one cannot play God, but this has been a way to bring all those dear to me, living and dead - together, breathing at least one form of life back into them all!

Narration-wise, you will probably note a somewhat “muffled” element; we did our best in post-production to clean it up, but although I had the foresight to ask my grandfather to read the story into an old hand-held Sony microphone way back in 1990 (he passed away in 2012 aged 93), the recording is over 30 years old and there was a limit to how much it could be improved. Using him was really non-negotiable in my eyes: he was a truly amazing character who, at the age of just 19, had the foresight to devise the most incredible “double-bluff”to rescue his parents from almost certain death in the Nazi concentration camps. I do think the warmth of his rich, Germanic voice is perfect to carry that friendly, yet wise storytelling aspect.

I ought to also mention that I know the unusual nature of the main character will trigger certain comparisons with a well-known early 1990’s fantasy movie; many may even suspect that I “copied” him from there. This could not be further from the truth; The Man With The Eye At The End Of His Finger has his origins as far back as 1987 in a quickly-labelled doodle I created to alleviate boredom on a long car journey; whereas the film in question was not released to the general public in the U.S until mid-December 1990 (by which time I can prove (via postmark) that I had already copyrighted my story and created the look of the character!) A degree of mystery does surround one event, however, which I expect will never be solved: the disappearance (overnight!) from the art college I was attending in the late 1980’s of an enormous layout pad filled with hundreds of preliminary drawings of my lead character, in which I had perfected his look from every conceivable angle: this was devastating at the time and although my friends kindly clubbed together and had a “whip-round” to buy me a replacement pad, it was of course the content itself which was irreplaceable. This did not daunt me, however; my degree show in Summer 1990 still featured a pre-production storyboard and even a 6-foot tall mannequin complete with light-up eye! The movie everyone will be reminded of did not in fact hit the UK until mid-1991, when I happened to be doing voluntary work as an Art Director for Camp America in the USA. I only chanced to find out about it whilst walking down Hollywood Boulevard on a visit to a cousin in Los Angeles: reaching a fancy-dress shop, I came face-to-face with a life-size model of Johnny Depp outside in full costume as that character - my jaw quite literally dropped open… The straggly hair, the unkempt hobo shirt, the braces and of course, most of all, the quirky (though very different) appendage added to the hands - all were uncannily reminiscent of my own creation! Nonetheless, as the celebrated director has famously claimed the genesis of his character happened way back while he was a teenager, I put all this down to mere co-incidence and creative minds simply thinking along similar paths!

Against almost overwhelming odds, The Man With The Eye At The End Of His Finger had its World Premiere at the Retro Computer Museum (RCM) in Leicester (United Kingdom) on Saturday 23rd October 2021 - up until then, only the tiniest handful of people had seen any of the footage at all - so it was something of a gamble… When one works in isolation, you have no idea whether what you have created has any worth at all.; so I had yet to discover what the general public thought of it. It was an amazing and emotional occasion; in a packed house, I was staggered to see many of the audience in tears as the end credits rolled! Since then, the film has gone on to win four international awards: The Singapore World Film Carnival (Animated Films - Outstanding Achievement Award), Dreamz Catcher International Film Festival (Best Animated Films - Winner Attainment Award), Krimson Horyzon International Film Festival (Best Animation Film - Winner Attainment Award) and Cult Critic Movie Awards (Animated Films - Outstanding Achievement Award). It was also selected to screen at the Florence Film Awards and was screened at the BFI/The Short Cinema: Show & Tell Event at Phoenix Square in Leicester. I have also just completed a high-quality vector-illustrated children’s book adaptation of the story (to be marketed along with the film) - once i can find a willing publisher, that is! (G.N.)


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