Wigtown couple swither on staying up late for Oscars to find out if they've won a golden statuette
His musical partner and wife, multi-instrumentalist Beth Porter, will just have returned from a hen party when they get ready to settle down to watch the ceremony on television around midnight to find out whether they have won a golden statuette. Or, they might just have an early night instead.
Please and Porter, who perform together in The Bookshop Band, wrote, performed and directed the music and song for musical animation Robin Robin, with much of the early ideas “recorded by the washing machine” at their home over lockdown making it into the final cut.
Robin Robin was released by Aardman – home of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep – as a Netflix Christmas special with actors Gillian Anderson and Richard E Grant leading the cast.
Co-directed by Ben’s brother, Michael Please, who will be at the ceremony in Los Angeles tonight, it has been nominated in the best animated short film category.
Whether Robin Robin takes the Oscar may be known before the live broadcast, with the result then cut into the ceremony.
Ben says: “On Sunday, I’ll be feeling like a million pennies in my silver jacket and Beth will have just returned from a hen do. My brother asked if we want to get a text with the result. It’s quite tempting to get the text and go to bed instead, but we’ll see.”
For a young family with a second child on the way, the result, of course, means a great deal to the couple who spent much of their time on the road pre-Covid, playing their songs inspired by works of fiction in bookshops across the UK and US.
Beth says: “The Oscars is of course something to put on your CV. People can see that you have worked in film. For us, that is still quite a new venture. We have a child and another one on the way so we want to do more things from home. It’s quite important that we get the work.”
Robin Robin tells the story of a robin who is adopted by a family of mice after its egg rolls into a rubbish bin. Gillian Anderson lends her voice to the villainous Cat while Grant plays Robin's mentor, Magpie, with both singing in character for the piece.
Over lockdown, the directors returned to many of the couple’s original ideas for the musical.
Ben says: “That is probably quite unusual in a big project. Normally, there are so many layers of production that your original ideas are decimated years before. But in this case, half of what you were hearing was probably first recorded next to our washing machine."
The couple work “much by ear” and intuition, with the pair connecting easily over what sounds right. They work quickly, with ideas becoming scratch recordings in just a couple of days.
Ben adds: “We did much of this in our top room over lockdown without having any interaction with anyone. It’s really amazing that this thing we made in our little house in Wigtown can be heard around the world. And then, we get the feedback that some people really like it.”
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