Canary Wharf Screen: Imperial Provisor Frombald

Our Specially Curated Season for Art of The Underground’s Canary Wharf Screen is now in Phase III: Future. Each week, we interview one of our filmmakers about their film and their involvement in the programme.

This week, we speak to Elizabeth Hobbs, director of Imperial Provisor Frombald (2013), a filmmaker with a background in printmaking and artists books. Hobbs began making animated films in 1999, and many of her works have won awards and have been shown widely. She also creates animated works with young people and local community groups, often in collaboration with artist Emily Tracy.

The film depicts the true story of Imperial Provisor Frombald, an administration official from Belgrade, who unwittingly became the author of the first documented testimony of the exhumation of a suspected vampire, Peter Plogojowitzm in 1725. The film is made from hand-carved rubber stamps printed directly onto 35mm film, then scanned and assembled in Final Cut Pro.

Our programme manager Elhum Shakerifar interviewed Elizabeth about the film and her work as a director.

> How did you hear about this story and how did you go from that to scripting/developing this film?

The story is based on an original document written by Imperial Provisor Frombald, outlining his role in the very first exhumation of a suspected vampire in the depths of the Serbian countryside. This document is in the Austrian Archives, and I found out about it while I was doing a residency with the Tricky Women Film Festival in Vienna in 2009.

I began writing and developing the technique at the same time and the following year I got a little bit of development funding from the National Film Board of Canada, which led to the Animate Projects commission for their Random Acts strand.

> Could you tell us about the materials and process involved in your work?

I developed a technique using rubber stamps, because Imperial Provisor Frombald is an administrator, and the rubber stamp is a reference to this. I went back to my printmaking roots and hand carved each rubber stamp to print it directly onto 35mm film, each stamps is a frame of animation, though I used a lot of loops. I liked working directly on film, because it’s quite portable, and it got me away from my computer for a bit.

> BEV is a platform that spotlights women directors- what advice would you give to women starting out in film?

For all women artists and filmmakers I think it’s necessary to build up a practice that is sustainable and flexible, and can be maintained around other jobs, squeezed in around family life, and kept up during times of economic uncertainty if necessary. Keep going!


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