Written & Directed by Claire Robertson
Produced by Deanna Milligan
Production Company & International Sales:
Stage Fright Productions
Contact: Deanna Milligan
© Claire Robertson & Stage Fright Productions 2018
Our story is about a girl who can’t whistle, so she must discover her own beautiful sound.
Our story is about a little girl named Arlo whose whistling skills don’t exactly measure up to her friend Quinn’s. When Arlo tries to whistle, nothing comes out except a pathetic raspberry sound. No matter how much she tries she can’t make a musical sound. Disappointed in herself, Arlo cries a river of tears that end up in a pool at her feet. Her tears make the most magnificent noise as they “sploot” into the puddle. Arlo is inspired by the sound and delighted to discover that she is able to recreate it perfectly. She hears a thin musical howling in the wind and follows it into a forest. Arlo is teased and taunted by birds who mock her whistling attempts, pulling at her her hair and plucking at the strands as if they are violin strings. In frustration, she rushes further into the dark forest and is lost amongst the rattling branches and spooky sounds. Finally she reaches a peaceful grove and the wind dies away. All that is left is silence and stillness. She breathes a sigh and emerges from the woods. She begins to discover other sounds: A small garden of spinning and fluttering pinwheels; twinkling wind chimes and flapping, flickering kite streamers. Finally she discovers the source of the strange sound in the wind. Three glass bottles sit in a sand dune. As the wind blows across them, they sing a melancholy harmony. Arlo is enchanted. She gathers the wind instruments all around her and begins to play a tune. Soon she is joined by Quinn and the birds, and they make beautiful music together.
As the story of the The Whistler evolved, I realised that it was an autobiographical story, and also one that explores universal themes. It’s a simple tale we all recognise of trying to fit in, of measuring ourselves against others and of striving to succeed in areas where we never feel quite comfortable. It’s a story of our own demons and inner critics, whose voices are sometimes so loud we find ourselves paralysed.
Arlo begins her story feeling miserable in her inability to match what Quinn effortlessly creates. The whistle is all she wants to do. As she attempts and fails, she is wracked with envy and self loathing. She cries a pool of tears. She is taunted and teased by birds who embody her feelings of inadequacy. However, her need for self-expression pushes her onwards through these dark thoughts, and as she journeys across hills, through a forest, and eventually down to the dunes, she discovers her own voice, her own confidence and her own unique way of expressing herself. The wind and her breath guide her and eventually she returns to match Quinn in her own way. Together, through tenacity, experimentation, vulnerability and courage, they create a beautiful and entirely unique piece of music.
I have come to stop-motion animation after years of illustration, writing, character creation and many other forms of creative story telling. I love the creative process but have never quite found my place. I have never found my own unique piece of music. I am so excited to be experimenting in this new-to-me area, where all my creative loves seem to converge. The Whistler will be my first short film and one which wakes me up every morning at 4.30am - so excited to be able to get out of bed to work on it.
WRITER & DIRECTOR - CLAIRE ROBERTSON
Claire Robertson is an Australian artist and illustrator based on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada. She weaves the whimsy of her island life into her work, incorporating the local flora and fauna in her characteristic style.
She is well known for her much loved illustrated blog, loobylu.com for which she has won many awards and accolades - including the title of “Power Blogger” from WIRED Magazine. Having had a stong online presence for almost 20 years, Claire has established a dedicated fan base and following.
She is also known for her iconic illustrations for the Truly Tan series, written by Jen Storer for Harper Collins Australia and being adapted for the screen in 2019.
Other recent children’s books include the award winning
Just the Way We Are -by Jessica Shirvrington, Harper Collins 2015
and the soon to be released
Four Fairytales for Feisty Girls - by Susannah McFarlane, Allen & Unwin 2018
PRODUCER - DEANNA MILLIGAN
Deanna Milligan brings 25 years of on set experience and over 66 acting credits in television and film. She has starred in series regular roles in Big Sound (with David Steinberg) , Northwood (CBC) and recurring roles on Da Vinci’s Inquest (CBC) and Out of Order (with Eric Stoltz, Peter Bogdonavich). Two time Leo Award Winner for Best Actress for Big Sound and Once in a Blue Moon (which screened at TorontoIFF) Two Gemini nominations for Best Actress Justice (CTV Movie/Pilot) and Must Be Santa (CBC Movie). Guest starring roles in many TV series including : Corner Gas, The X-Files, The Chris Isaak Show, Sliders, Touching Evil (with Vera Farmiga) and Dead Man’s Gun (produced by Henri Winkler). Deanna is producer on an award winning short (Best Drama at NWFF) called Do We Leave This Here, written and directed by Julia Hutchings that has screened at film festivals around the world including VancouverIFF, BarcelonaISFF, Oregon NWFF, GlasgowSFF.
Deanna is currently writing and directing a short film called Cascadia that begins shooting in April 2018.
ANIMATOR / MENTOR - PEG SERENA
Peg Serena is a Canadian stop-motion animator specializing in the subtleties of facial animation. She has worked on four Oscar nominated feature films at acclaimed Laika Studios in Portland, Oregon. Peg helped to set up and then lead the facial animation department on Coraline, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls, and the development and preproduction of Kubo and The Two Strings. She also worked at Academy Award winning Aardman Animations in Bristol, UK where she helped to set up the facial animation department for their feature film, Pirates! A Band of Misfits. Before moving to features, Peg worked on numerous stop motion animated television series including Disney’s JoJo’s Circus, Celebrity Deathmatch, Little People, What It’s Like Being Alone, The Wrong Coast, and Starveillance. She has also worked on numerous short films and music videos. Peg received her diploma in Classical Animation from respected Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. She also excels at drawing and painting. After taking three years off from her animation career to focus on her two little sons, Peg is looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective and energy to exciting and meaningful projects.