Kieran McLister

  • 2019
  • Design
  • Animation - BA (Hons)

Kieran McLister, Animation - BA (Hons): Stop-motion storytelling with a comic approach

Over two thousand, five hundred separate images.

That’s what’s gone into Kieran McLister’s stop-motion short film ‘Margin of Terror’.

Kieran describes his three-and-a-half minute film as a horror spoof about a mad scientist with a penchant for perfectionism, and his quest to create the perfect scary monster. Things don’t quite go to plan, however, when he ends up making one cute monster after another…

Kieran’s interest in animation started young, and he began experimenting with the stop-motion technique when he was in his final year of primary school. “I remember watching ‘Gogs’ [a 1996 animated TV series about farting cavemen by animator Mike Mort] and I was fascinated.”

He continues, “I was a bit of a Wallace and Gromit nerd and I loved everything coming out of Aardman Studios. It made me want to make my own stop-motion film, and so I started making characters and experimenting.”

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Margin of Terror
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Margin of Terror

‘Margin of Terror’ is the result of an almost year-long project. Over the summer of 2018, Kieran came up with 30 story ideas that could be potential candidates for his final-year film.

He says, “I spent a bit of time on brainstorming and I worked on loads of character sketches and storyboards. We had to pitch our rough story outlines to our tutors and external visitors in week two of this academic year, so the work I did over the summer was worthwhile. The story for ‘Margin of Terror’ was pretty much there but, even so, it didn’t quite work the way I wanted until a few days before the pitch.”

After his concept was accepted, Kieran moved on to working out the full story arrangement.

His main character went through various design iterations and is made out of moulded silicone and plasticine set around a metal skeleton. Kieran says, “You can make your model for stop-motion out of any material. In the past I’ve used paper, tin foil and plasticine. But I needed something more durable for this project so I learned how to do silicone casting.”

Kieran is a self-confessed perfectionist: “Sometimes it’s difficult to leave something that’s not working because you think to yourself, I can polish it, it can be better. But I’m learning that sometimes you do have to accept that you have to let things go.”

On his time living and studying Edinburgh, Kieran says, “It’s an amazing city and I’m still blown away by its beauty. I feel really lucky to have been able to spend time here getting to know it.”

Kieran aims to find a job as a stop-motion animator and plans to take his animation around festivals over the next year.

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