Baeza has a list of acting credits that goes back to 1994, but, like the cliche, what she really always wanted to do was direct. And armed with a degree from the U.K.’s National Film and Television School, she turned that cliche into reality.
But first she had to audition to get into the highly selective directing animation program (Nick Park of “Wallace & Gromit” fame is an alum). “They take eight people every year,” she says, adding that applicants must submit an animated piece, then complete a series of tasks. “It’s really intense.”
But it paid off: her graduation short, the stop-motion “Poles Apart,” won an animated short film BAFTA this year.
“I’ve always made textiles and characters out of felt or wool and have a love for creating characters out of textiles,” she says of her stop-motion shorts.
Baeza’s interest in directing goes back to when she was a university student. “You look back on your life and see a pattern, and when I was there I was always wanting to make films,” she says. “Always wanting to be involved in storytelling becauses that’s what I love. That’s what drew me behind the camera.”
Her next project is the stop motion/live action hybrid “The Toymaker’s Secret,” a script by her husband, Alex Garland, that follows an American family who move into a Victorian house in London and come to think it’s haunted.
“It felt a little bit left of field when we came up with this project,” she says. “We talked a lot about doing a hybrid — blending animation with live action because of the nature of the story in which traditional Victorian toys are [main characters]. It’s a nice departure for him [Garland]. He loved the idea of making a movie for the whole family to appreciate.”
Expect the film to be peppered with her trademark combo of quirkiness and charm. “I love absurdity and I love a backdrop of reality. And it’s all around us every day — there’s absurdity all around us. And out that come quite interesting characters.”
— Carole Horst