The LoFi PANDEMIC Series ep#9 Filmmaker Jess Murray

Jess Murray

Filmmaker, animator, illustrator and founder of the upcoming film series, Moments of Clarity!

Where do we even start with Jess Murray! The last time we caught up with Jess was at an incredible art exhibition they were having at the Youth ARC gallery, featured below.

Back then, Jess was already making waves with a unique and original animation and digital illustration style that we absolutely LOVED!

Since then, Jess featured in PLATFORM Magazine issue 11 with an amazing comic series featuring words from Tim Logan called ‘Moments of Clarity’.

Now, they’ve taken the comic series to the next level with its first ever debut on IGTV in June 2020, so be sure to check that out too! The entire series is just beautiful, addressing the existentialist woes of the human conundrum poetically, with a gentle humour that oozes awareness and empathy.

Mel and Joel caught up with Jess to see what film school in Sydney is like, what their covid world has been like, and to find out more about the amazing new series!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m currently in my third year studying film at AFTR’s, The Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney and I’m due to finish at the end of this year.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative journey, how did you get into film?

I watched the move Edward Scissor Hands when I was 12 years old and I was like “Ooh, that was next level!!” haha. Then I got really into movies and watched A LOT of movies! Haha. I guess from there I started saying that I wanted to be a Movie Maker whenever someone asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, but I didn’t think it was really going to happen. Then as I got later on in high school, I hadn’t really thought of doing anything else so I thought I might as well really give it a shot! So here I am, about to graduate from film school.

Where did your comic projects start?

Haha, well it has been a wild ride! I went to an event that was being put on by Screen Tasmania and AFTR’s when I was in Grade 11 or 12 which was like a talent camp. That’s where I met some of my good friends that I have now and through that I met Tim Logan. I had a post callout for commissions at the time, which Tim responded to on Facebook saying, “hey I don’t have a commission but I do have this project and I’ve always wanted to make comics but I can’t draw”, and I said “I can draw!” haha so that’s where it all started. He writes them and I draw. We made a whole lot of comics over that following year and now it’s a brand new animated series called ‘Moments of Clarity’ on debuting on IGTV! The series has about 30 episodes and they were all made via Blue Rocket who are based in Hobart! You can find the series on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube too.

How long does it take to create an animated episode?

Well the still images can take about 3 or 4 hours alone, so yeah making an animated series takes a lot longer but we had a whole team! The team includes and Animation Director, Animators and a Producer. We ended up working on it for about 3 months. I was in the studio doing Production Design and then the Animators continued on animating after I left for another few weeks.

How did you disconnect yourself from what obviously requires a lot of screen time over those three months of intense creativity? Were you able to step out or take a break easily during that period?

Oh yeah it was great working at Blue Rocket! We had ‘Donut Fridays’ haha, ‘cos it’s right next to a donut shop and everyone was just so lovely. We’d go out and have lunch together and enjoy little chats. Then after work I’d enjoy all the beautiful nature walks in Tasmania! ‘Cos we don’t have that in Sydney. 

What has been your outlet during the Covid pandemic and lockdown with restrictions?

Nature for sure! I’m really lucky to be here in Tasmania and where I’m at on a farm, there’s just nature everywhere and I’m so lucky to have that.

Is there anything you’d say you’re not good at?

Oh so many things! haha. The first thing that springs to mind is that I play a lot of music instruments like the guitar, or different novelty instruments like the slide-whistle and the jaw harp. I’d say I’m not very good at music but I do enjoy playing music. I don’t really publish it but it’s still fun!

Can you tell us about the technology you first used to create work compared to the technology you use now?

When I first started with digital illustration after pen and paper, or pencil and paper, I started off drawing on the track pad on my mum’s really old laptop in MS Paint, haha. After that, my dad worked at a school library and they had the book club catalogues and they had a drawing tablet in the catalogue for which my dad got a discount. So we got this $100 Wacom Bamboo, which had no screen or anything but I used that for years! It was great! Then when I was about 15yrs old I got a Cintiq which is basically the same but with a screen, and it’s what all the pros use and I was like, “Wow this is so fancy!” haha.  I’ve been using that ever since.

Where do you see yourself heading with it all?

Well in finishing my last year at film school this year, it’s definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been, haha. Not to mention the Pandemic going on!

At the beginning of the year I started thinking, “hmm…what am I going to do at the end of this year?!”,  it’s all pretty up in the air. I’ve never not-known what I’ll be doing next year because at school you just go into the next grade. Now I’m like “Ooo I don’t know!”. But it’s good that I’ve been able to work on projects like the Moments of Clarity animation which I feel like might give me a bit of ‘street cred’ coming out of film school, haha. Hopefully I’ll be making movies in the near future!

What advice would you give to other young people who are interested in getting into animation and film?

Do it! It’s something you can do when you’re by yourself, the illustration part at least. It’s not hard and if you like movies, try and meet other people who like movies too. Here in Tasmania we’ve got the amazing Wide Angle who are an independent not-for-profit organisation for the Tasmanian screen sector. There are lots of people who like movies there! And I know some schools have ‘film-classes’ and I got to do a film elective in year 12 which was really great ‘cos I got to meet people who also like movies. So just remember you’re not the only one who likes movies! Haha, which is what I thought when I was back in high school, like “No one’s seen Hitchcock?!?!…Gah! You don’t know who Hitchcock is?!” haha.

If you’d like to know more about Jess and the new animation series ‘Moments of Clarity’ be sure to check them out on Facebook: Moments of Clarity, or Instagram: @thesearemomentsofclarity or simply lookup Jess at JessMurray5463 on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook!

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