NED WETHERED (11mins. 35mm. 1984)
Written, directed and animated by Lee Whitmore, NED WETHERED is Lee’s first film. Made possible by the Women’s Film Fund branch of the Australian Film Commission it won all three Best Animation awards - the Greater Union Award at the Sydney Film Festival, the Australian Film Institute /AFI Award and the Australian Teachers of Media/ATOM Award.
A memoir of a family friend Ned Wethered. Ned frequently visited Lee’s home and brought with him mysterious things ‘he had been working on’. The film concentrates on the detail of these visits and on Lee’s family life. From watching Ned arrive through the back gate and him playing with their family cat, to Lee’s mother hanging out the clothes and doing the dishes the film builds up a poignant and often funny picture of the man Ned. “Why do I now remember him?” is the enigmatic question Lee leaves us with at the end.
SCRIPT AND ANIMATION STYLE
In NED WETHERED I decided to test my memory by wtiting down all the things I could remember about ‘Ned’. This wasn’t very much. I looked for photos of Ned and found only one so I decided to draw pictures of Ned instead. I drew him as I remembered him with my family and then as I imagined him a young man. By putting the pictures with the words I discovered to my surprise that they revealed a fuller picture of Ned than I had previously known. The final discovery was some sheet music Ned had written for piano my Mum had kept in a drawer. Curious I pulled them out and asked a friend to play them. These simple tunes were full of melancholy and very haunting. At this point I knew I had the makings of a film.
The animation technique grew from a very modest desire to bring to life simple gestures like how Ned doffed his hat. But as my confidence grew I began to tackle more and more complex movements. I realised I enjoyed animating. I used pencil on paper working over a light box drawing and redrawing. Camera moves such as zooms and pans I created in the drawings themselves. I then gave the drawings to a camera operator to be filmed one by one on a 35mm rostrum camera.