Rosa Fisher’s light hearted animation about her fathers terrible boarding school experience
21st January 2020 by Will Stewart
Boarding schools can rip children out of their secure, loving homes and deposit them into a cold, unloving institution. Kids have to emotionally shut down, and cut off their sensitivities to themselves in order to survive this experience.
‘Sent Away’ explores themes of masculinity and how children are institutionalised through the boarding school system.
MadeGood – Please tell me a bit about yourself as a film maker and animator, and how you got into making films. Is Sent Away a typical example of your work?
Rosa Fischer – I always wanted to do art but I got into making films when I realised I loved telling stories in my work and coming up with characters. I have now just finished an MA at the Royal College of Art in Animation. My work often has a running theme of being anti institutional and talks about themes of conformity and competition and how these implicate on individuals.
MadeGood – The animation does a really wonderful job of bringing life and colour to the interview, and I like the way that some sections have no voice over directly commanding the scene. Please tell me a bit about your working process, and how you decided what to animate and why.
Rosa Fischer – Thank you so much! That was a tricky balancing act actually. I started with 3 hours of interview footage to edit down and then kept changing my mind about how much to let the interview lead the film. At first I was going to have it there the entire time, and then I completely changed my mind and took it out all together. That was quite an important part of the process though as it meant I really worked on making the narrative work by itself without depending on a voice over. Then, I just added in bits of voice over where I felt it would add detail and depth to what you are seeing.
MadeGood – The sound design is another really great element of the film, please tell me a bit about your working relationship with Martino Gasparrini on this film
Rosa Fischer – I am extremely lucky to be able to work with Martino, he really elevated the sound design to a whole other level. He wrote all of the music and we worked closely on the sound design and decisions.
We recorded my Dad playing the French horn which formed the basis of the musical score. Martino then used this in both musical and abstract, distorted ways to go along with what was happening in the narrative.
The French horn also mirrored the rhythmic sounds of the cane at certain points.
MadeGood – I’m guessing by the credits that Tom Fisher is a relative of yours. Was this interview the first time you’d talked candidly about his experiences, or is it something you’d discussed at length before? He speaks quite coldly of his father, is he someone you’ve met? What’s your impression of him!?
Rosa Fischer – That is right, he’s my Dad. Dad talked a lot about his experiences of being sent to boarding school throughout my life, and this was a big reason that I felt so invested in making a film on this topic. This was the first time we’d talked about it in so much detail though and there were a lot of things he talked about that I never realised.
My grandfather was such a loving caring person, and all my impressions of him were of him being a lovely grandparent, but my Dad has said he was very much a product of his class and background. This was the reason it was just expected and not really questioned that my Dad would go to this school. My grandfather had also been sent to the same one and my great grandfather had gone there too so it was kind of a script they were following.
MadeGood – What are you working on next- is documentary a theme that you will continue in your animation work?
Rosa Fischer – I’m currently freelancing as an animator but I would love to make another personal project soon. I think my work is always strongest when there’s some sort of real life observed aspect, so I can definitely see myself making another documentary.