VIDEO: Film brings star of children's books to life
Award-winning Devon artist Laura Wall has commissioned a short film to showcase the star of her children's books, Goose.
Laura, from Kingsteignton in South Devon, came up with the idea of the film after the publication of the fifth and sixth books of her Goose series in June – 12 months after the first four hit the book shelves at shops up and down the country.
This year's books were published just weeks after Laura won Britain's Best Up and Coming Artist 2013, awarded by the Fine Art Trade Guide, and finished runner-up in the People's Book Prize 2013 for Goose Goes to the Zoo.
To help promote Goose, she has made a short film which brings the creature and his friend Sophie to life, but the project was only made possible after a wild goose chase – literally.
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Laura, who does all the writing and illustrations in the books, explained: "I wanted to put a video on my website that is accessible to children. I also wanted to show my relationship with Goose.
"So I thought it would be good to make a film about how I come up with my stories for the books. In the film I am painting the scenery when I see a goose. When I draw it he comes to life on the page and creates all sorts of mischief. He then finds a friend – a little girl."
Laura approached a former colleague from Plymouth-based Twofour Productions, cameraman and editor Jason Hart, to script and produce the film, and the role of Sophie was played by six-year-old Molly Dunk – the daughter of Laura's friends Mark Dunk and Claire Batten.
There was just one thing missing – a friendly goose. Enter the crazy world of social media. Laura posted an appeal on Twitter for a goose to take part in a shoot of the filming variety: "I couldn't believe the response!" said Laura.
"But the goose couldn't be wild; it had to be tame. Someone said 'have you thought of the Two Bridges Hotel on Dartmoor – they've got geese there'. And of course, the setting at Two Bridges is perfect, too." On the morning of the filming, Laura had a choice of eight friendly geese, all of which were keen to claim the starring role!
Laura is amazed at how things have gone this year: "Winning the art award was brilliant," she said. "Timmy Mallet won it the year before; this is national recognition. I was quite shocked about the book award though because it's for authors and I see myself as an illustrator really."
Laura has also signed a cuddly toy deal with Aurora Gifts and is hoping Goose merchandise will be in the shops before too long. And to think, Goose started life as an 11th-hour idea for a university project. Laura studied Fine Art with TV at Aberystwyth University, which is where Goose was "born" in a dissertation.
"One of the tasks in the illustration module was to write a children's book," said Laura.
"At first I went for something really detailed but it just wasn't working and my tutor said to me 'go for the first thing in your head'. I went home and in my head I had a goose and a little girl called Sophie. From that I did the story and the mock-up of the book. I remember my tutor saying that I should take it to a publisher but I didn't have the confidence then and I went straight into a job at Twofour.
"It was a great job but my passion was still for art so about four years ago I handed in my notice with a month's savings. It was the best thing I ever did."
The Goose books are for children up to the age of five and Laura reckons he's a star in the making: "He's loveable, silly and mischievous but without being naughty," she explained. "He becomes Sophie's companion and the way the stories are written, he could be real or he could be in Sophie's imagination. No adults acknowledge him except for Sophie's mum.
"It can be interpreted that Sophie has just moved house and her father is never mentioned, so perhaps her parents are separated and she has moved to a new town. She meets Goose in a park and he eventually comes home with her. He is her companion and enables her to make friends, such as the day that she was scared about going to school. The stories are everyday occurrences, but occurrences that are very important for children and they are written from a young child's perspective."
The Goose series is published by Award Publications, who responded to Laura 12 months after she first approached them at a publishing fair. Each book series takes Laura two to three months to write and illustrate. The illustrations start off as charcoal drawings in a storyboard which is then imported into her computer for development.
When not creating new adventures for Goose and Sophie, Laura is kept busy working on commissioned murals and her paintings entitled Love at the Seaside – a series of watercolours of South West coastal towns. If you look closely, you will see Goose makes an appearance in each of them!
Laura believes the sky is the limit for her loveable character: "It's down to me now to really do something with Goose, to take things forward. It actually keeps me awake at night, thinking of all the possibilities. It would be fabulous if, at some point in the future, he was the star of an animated film – that would be great!
"In five years' time the ultimate would be for Goose to be a household name. It's all so exciting."
The Goose series: Goose, Goose Goes to School, Happy Birthday Goose, Goose Goes to the Zoo, Goose on the Farm, Goose Goes to the Shop.