Billington Prep

At what school do the world’s great females spend their childhoods? At what school do 94% of students belong to MENSA before the age of 6? And at what school can even the primary students make a damn-near perfect martini?

The answer, of course, is Billington Preparatory School for Girls.

Creative team

Writer/director: Claire Seringhaus
Producer: Centre for Art Tapes Media Scholarship program

Filmmaker’s statement

Claire Seringhaus says:

“I am a massive fan of 3D stop-motion – from Starevich to Aardman and back again. It’s charming, engrossing and has such potential for humour. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at it, just to get a better sense of the processes at work.

Billington Prep was created on a fairly short timeline, on a very low budget, as part of a new media scholarship program at the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In this program, artists are invited to pursue a project in a medium in which they have no experience – which seemed an ideal opportunity for me to explore stop-motion, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the program.

In creating the short, I worked alone in my darkened living room, hunched over a miniature set, cursing intermittently. Really – those puppets you see were exposed to some exceptionally colourful language over the course of shooting. But, they were very forgiving, if a bit disengaged and ultimately we all had a fine time.

I had a basic script outline from the get-go but spent a few days simply doing what I could only describe as stop-motion improvisation – playing with the puppets, frame-by-frame and seeing what they did in the schoolroom. About 50% of the final footage is actually drawn from these experiments.

Finally, making Billington Prep allowed me to indulge the fantasy of being a vaguely English narrator, something I’ve been dying to do since the age of six.

All told, this was a successful learning process for me and I feel like the outcome is amusing in the particular, slightly absurd way I’d intended. It’s a bit of silliness but that silliness is heartfelt.”

About Claire Seringhaus

Claire-Seringhaus

A University of Toronto janitor once told Claire that a degree in fine art was “just knowledge for the sake of knowledge.” She continues to defy that janitor and now makes literally hundreds of dollars a year as a multidisciplinary artist and performer.

Her drawn work has been featured in a variety of publications from Broken Pencil to Creative Quarterly. A book of her humourous pen and graphite drawings, titled The Blaring House, was published by Conundrum Press in 2012.

She has performed on stages in Halifax, Toronto and Chicago. Billington Prep is her first animation.

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