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Stamen by Calum Macdiarmid

Artist and director Calum Macdiarmid experienced a lot of attention around his first short film Worship about a your ago, and received critical acclaim on both sides of the atlantic and entered the festival circuit by winning the Gold Grand Jury prize at the Promax short film awards. Now the former MTV illustrator and animator is back with another sensual film: Stamen, featuring Katie Ball and Graham Dickson.

The film portrays a girl being aroused by a man in the room next door touching flowers. The house seems to shake as if she has some kind of telekinetic powers that are only activated at times of stress,” he explains, before quickly adding “The end of the film is about the awkward moment after sex; its all good fun when the music is playing and everything reaches a climax. But then there’s that moment straight after, we’ve all been there, where you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, wearing kitchen gloves, leather chaps and nazi officers hat, holding a giant rubber dildo, and you think ‘what on earth was all that about?’

Was there any events, or specific sources that inspired you to make Stamen? “The cinematographer Nick Bennett contacted me about doing a shoot to try out the Alexa camera. That gave me two days to write something that we could film in one location at the same time as giving us an excuse to film some random but beautiful things. The idea stemmed from a photo I saw of a hand reaching up to a chandelier. There was something quite sensual about it and it just set my imagination rolling.

You’ve got a few films under your belt now, what differentiates Stamen from your other films? “The sense of humour. It’s much more fun and tongue in cheek than my other work which can be a more serious or ambitious subject matter.

We were quite impressed by the location, where is it? “It was an abandoned stately home called Tew Manor in Oxfordshire England. I believe the family that owns it are saving up to renovate it…. which doesn’t look cheap.

Katie and Graham look great in the film, how was it working with them? “Absolutely fantastic, they are friends of mine that happen to be model/actors which made the shoot so much easier. The actor director relationship requires so much communication to get a good result, knowing them well meant I could get everything I wanted from them.

What about the rest of the team, is it a team you’ve worked a lot with before? “I’ve known Nick for quite a few years as we’ve worked on commercials and my first short film Worship together. Apart from that everyone was new. The producer was a girl called Sapphire who was also a friend, but who did an incredible job pulling everyone together in a few days, so I’m looking forward to working with them all again in the future.

You’ve worked as an illustrator and animator before, which of the disciplines do you enjoy the most? “Thats a very hard question, I still do illustration and the odd bit of animation (I animated the smashed mirror in After Effects) and whenever I do too much of one thing I tend to miss the other. Right now film is whats exciting me the most, but to me they’re all connected by similar values.

What’s next for Calum Macdiarmid? “Next up I’ve got a film I’m really really excited about. Its the culmination of my favorite artistic experiences brought together in one short but quite commercial film. Its aimed at a much larger market than my previous work, with a plan to do some real damage on the scene. We’ve shot everything and are in post production which will take a good half a year due to the amount of CGI required. I won’t say too much more but that it involves a lot of paint!

We can’t wait to see it!

Director - Calum Macdiarmid
DOP - Nick Bennett
Actors - Katie Ball and Graham Dickson
Music - Michael James Thomas
Editor - James Demetriou
Sound Effects - Dugal Macdiarmid
Grade - George K at MPC
Makeup - Rose Angus
Producer - Sapphire Nalden
Compositing/Special effects done in After Effects
The building was an abandoned house in Oxfordshire.