Sacha Beeley, a recent graduate of Central Saint Martins’ master’s course in character design, has made a film about satire, but in the world of sexy food.
Big Toast, a hilarious short which we already want to be made into a series, tells the story of a character made of bread, pining after his love lost, an egg, after he made the mistake of copping off with a slice of salami. The animation’s premise and its leading character started to form in Sacha’s mind when her class began to think about their graduation films. “I had a few visuals in my head but wasn’t sure which one to go with,” Sacha tells It’s Nice That. “I’d drawn a real sexy piece of toast spreading butter on himself a few months before and it had stuck in my head,” and so the flirty, filthy toast we’ve come to know and love was born.
Sacha, who is originally from Bath, got her first taste of animation when she studied a foundation course in Paris. She applied to a bunch of animation schools in France, “but was in way over my head and didn’t get in”. Sacha then moved back to England to study French and Italian at Bristol, but kept her love of drawing going on the side. Her passion for animation — one that’s stemmed from watching cartoons (“especially The Simpsons”) — continued to grow too and on her year abroad she got a peek at the industry by working in the marketing department of an animation distribution company in Paris and a printing studio in Bologna. “It was such an incredible year but it made me realise I wasn’t really on the right path as I still just wanted to be an animator.”
During her last year studying languages, Sacha began applying for masters courses in animation and modestly says she “luckily got into the MA Character Animation course at Central Saint Martins”. With a couple of other buddies who hadn’t studied animation before either, Sacha was “taught from scratch and learnt so much,” she says. “It was such a great two years".
Big Toast, builds on an illustrative theme that has repeatedly popped up in Sacha’s work over the past few years,“ I seem to have drawn mostly food and I’m not sure why,” she explains. “I think I like the aesthetic of food. I remember drawing cute little mushroom characters from when I was about 12, and then the past two years I’ve drawn loads of eggs.”
Her short, as a result, explores how we interact and understand food, but within Sacha’s warped animated universe. For instance, Toast himself doesn’t wash with soap obviously, but with butter. When Toast and his best mate Lettuce go to the club, they – along with bananas, slices of bacon and a can of beans – take to a dance floor which is actually a giant frying pan.
Sacha’s ability to make each of these food characters instantly recognisable in illustration and movement is also impressive considering she’s only just graduated. “I think, out of everything, the design part was my favourite, just sketching out loads of characters and choosing the colours,” she says. “I’m really bad at backgrounds but I actually loved trying it out on this film, just keeping them pretty simple and focusing more on the colours and matching the characters.” This attention to detail did actually mean Sacha ended up “getting pretty behind because I was getting worked up about which brushes to use or which programme as it was all new to me. The film definitely would not have been finished on time if it hadn’t been for some incredible help from the first years on my course.” As you can see for yourselves, however, the effort, and a little bit of worrying, was definitely worth it.
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