Tergo: A Director’s story

Tergo is the fifth short film from Pallas Pictures and our first to feature a CG character. It has been a labour of love for Pallas Pictures Founder Charles Willcocks who has worked on Tergo for two years around his work but where did the idea of Tergo come from? Charles tells his story about where the idea for the film came from and where it has led him both personally and professionally.

“Tergo’s journey began on the last day of my MA course at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA). It was in the summer sun and with a well-deserved beer in hand that I and a group of fellow graduate artists and animators reflected on what had been one of the most intense years of our lives. As with all moments in life that mark the end of one thing and the beginning of something unknown, the conversation turned to what we would do next as the sad realisation that this was the last time we would all be together slowly sunk in.

As the bubbles of beer nucleated in our glasses so too did ideas of collaboration nucleate in our minds. Discussion began on how we could continue to work on projects and making films together. The optimism of creatives to change the world far headier than the beer itself, and I was struck by the desire to not let this be the last time we would share such ambition. Nevertheless, the following day we all disappeared in our separate ways. Colleagues who had become friends dispersed to work all over the world. Some, including myself, were drawn like moths to the bright screen lights in the darkened rooms of London’s Soho VFX studios. Others, however, flitted further afield returning to their home countries to become a part of the ever growing International VFX community.


London, however, did what it always does and stole my time. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months as I jumped in deeper to the prospering VFX community. I had been lucky enough to have a job lined up and had gone straight in to work with a small team on a feature in London. As production pressures increased the contact I had with those I studied decreased. It became limited to the occasional Facebook message. Friendships defined by an avatar thumb were not in fact something I ‘liked’. So, when I was afforded a much-needed month-long break between two jobs the desire to ‘reunite the band,’ so to speak, took its hold. So, following a gloomy London commute during which I watched the brilliant Disney Pixar animation WALL- E I drafted a basic treatment for a three minute short. Tergo (although not yet named) had been born. And it would be Tergo that would be the catalyst to reunite those creative friendships that I had missed.

Like all aspiring filmmakers the challenge I faced was a distinct lack of money coupled with limited experience in organising anything of this scale. What I needed was friends and artists who were willing to work and create through generosity and love of the art form – and that it was I found.

The best thing about this whole process has been the generosity of all those who have worked on it. Hundreds of man-hours have been given in both time and patience as I have pushed to turn this film in to a reality. A truly international team has made it possible: A Brazilian, an Irishman, a Singaporean, an Indian, a Catalonian, a Turk, a Welshman, and numerous Englishmen have shared their skills, talents, thoughts, and creativity to make this possible. I even had help from Hollywood royalty when I was fortunate enough to bump in to and speak to Ron Howard whilst filming in Soho.

There has been a beautiful mechanical symbiosis between Tergo and I. He has grown and adapted to his world as I have to mine. As my skills developed as a filmmaker within the industry so too did Tergo as a character and a film. A team of technical wizards and creative visionaries have enabled Tergo to come life. Through critical decisions and directorial choices, the film has developed in to something truly wonderful whether it be our Lighting Technical Director, Adam Cheshire, choosing to switch to the brilliant Vray, or the gifted Director of Photography, Jack Homan, capturing such stunning plates, or the addition of technical knowhow from Lead Compositor, John Sellings, so many others have enabled me to create something far beyond my initial dreams.

Tergo has been the ultimate reminder to me (not only of the power of pub conversations) but most importantly in the marvellous and spell binding planet of imagination whose gravity drew me to my studies in the first place. It has been Tergo’s power to inspire in me, and those with whom I have worked, that has been truly remarkable. And it is this experience for which I am truly grateful. All films in my opinion should leave a little of the soul of the filmmaker on the celluloid but in the case of Tergo I give you not only my soul but my heart and a love for film shared by all those who have imprinted their souls on this film in its making.”
To say that Tergo is a labour of love is an understatement. It’s more than that. It’s everywhere I have been and everywhere I want to go. It’s a visual manifestation of my own creative ambition, loyal friendships and inspiration from those whom inspire me.”
CW & RL 11/07/16