After his superb short film JoJo In The Stars and impressive ad campaigns for both The National Lottery and Lloyd’s, any new offering from Marc Craste is bound to cause excitement, and his latest project doesn’t disappoint. It sees Craste venture into the world of book illustration, for the children’s title, Varmints, written by Helen Ward.
“Helen had seen an illustration I did for Orange back in 1998–9,” explains Craste. “She thought it looked interesting and then saw some more of my commercial work, and apparently created the story for me to illustrate. I was surprised because she’s an extremely accomplished illustrator herself.”
Varmints tells a tale of ecological doom and subsequent redemption, and sees the introduction of another cute-yet-soulful character from Craste, who will no doubt appeal to both adults and children alike. Especially when he is brought to life in a film that Craste is currently working on, based on the story from the book, set to be released next year. “I was looking for something to fill the void after JoJo and the Stars,” he continues. “I did the first boards for it 18 months ago and then got the green light this time last year, but didn’t start working on it until January. Since the beginning of February there’s been one or two people working on it full-time. But as it’s all self-financed [by Craste’s production company, Studio AKA] if commercial projects come up it has to be put on hold.”
Looking at the imagery for both the book and the film together, it might seem that illustration and animation are similar processes, yet, as Craste points out, this is not necessarily the case. “I found it very hard doing a book,” he admits. “I’m not a painter so I found it hard to get it right. I wouldn’t relish the idea of doing another one straight away. I’ve been directing for ten years and really a lot of my job is getting people who are far more talented than me in a room and conducting their efforts. When you’re an illustrator, you are really on your own. I realise how little finished work I do, and I’m quite happy with that!”
Varmints, by Helen Ward and with illustrations by Marc Craste, is available from Templar Publishing for £14.99 (hardback)/£9.99 (softback)