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Interview with Lucy J. Hayes, Producer of Stop Motion Love Story, "Lost & Found"

Knitsune in Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.



Ever since her childhood, Lucy J. Hayes – the producer of Lost & Found, an extraordinarily beautiful short film that make for a profound mediation on the impermanence and imperfection of life and beauty – she’s wanted to play some part in the creative industry, in some way, shape, or form. For Hayes, that dream went unquestioned. However, the challenge turned out to be figuring out quite where she belonged in the creative industry.

“I dabbled in acting and directing, however, I was terrible!” Hayes tells Stop Motion Geek. It wasn’t until she began to put on plays with her friends in her adolescence and early adulthood that the answer to her search dawned upon her: All that Hayes found came innately to her – everything from her ardor for creative work to her love for working with creatives to bring an idea, the kernel of a story, to fruition – she found in the title of “producer.”

Knotjira (left) and Knitsune (right) in Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

Although being a term often thrown around colloquially, the actual responsibilities helmed by producers in film are often commonly misunderstood. The answer is rather straightforward, although somewhat complex: Producers are the individuals to whom ideas and scripts are pitched and the people under whose leadership the development of a project commences, as well as being the leaders in charge of amassing the creative team to work on a given project, and the people under whose vision the many individual moving parts involved in a project coalesce.

The defining moment for Hayes’ aspirations and actualization of becoming a producer came to her at age twenty-two, when she was working in New York for a Theatre and Film Producer. “This was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and really galvanised the notion that producing was the direction I wanted to take,” says Hayes. “You get to be involved with the creation of the idea from its very inception, and then follow it through to the very end… and also, I love being the boss (haha)!”

Knotjira in Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

From that moment on, Hayes has been pursuing a career as a producer – and pursuing one with quite a considerable amount of success and prestige – with no looking back, and has since then graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts Film & Television post graduate producing program, and has worked as a producer on dozens of music videos, short films, TVCs, branded content, and documentaries. She has also co-founded both the production company Stanley & Morph and Wabi Sabi Studios, the latter of which she founded along with Bradley Slabe and Andrew Goldsmith – the co-directors of Lost & Found – to produce Lost & Found alongside Screen Australia.

Knitsune in Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

Its a curious truth that, often times, the simplest and most “childlike” things can tell such profound truths, doing so with a profound poignancy – a notion Lost & Found proves over and over again. In its essence, the beautifully handcrafted seven-and-a-half minute film tells a love story of sorts between two knitted creatures designed in the style of the Japanese art of Amigurumi – a clumsy dinosaur called Knotjira and a nimble fox called Knitsune – and of how Knotjira becomes unraveled, sacrificing his life to save his lover, something which proves a metaphor that rings incredibly true for the nature of sacrificial love in a world impermanent and imperfect.

Knotjira in Lost & Found. Source: Vimeo.

Lost & Found premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany this February, and will next be screened at the Sydney Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, which will be happening from the 6th to the 17th of June. You can learn more about the Sydney Film Festival by going here.

This is the fourth of Stop Motion Geek’s interviews with the team behind Lost & Found. The first – our interview with co-director Bradley Slabe – can be read here. The second – an interview with co-director Andrew Goldsmith – can be read here. The third – an interview with Lost & Found’s sole animator – can be read here.

The poster for Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

In our interview, Hayes discusses her journey into the filmmaking and animation industries, and in the process bestows some precious wisdom about the industry as a whole – in Hollywood as well as Australia – and knowledge more specific to being a producer, such as the best approach to building a great producer-director relationship. She also gives us a look at her responsibilities on Lost & Found, on which she worked from start to finish, and how she worked with the film’s directors to bring the project to fruition. She also tells us about her time spent and the lessens she learned in Hollywood, where she worked with the producer Dan Lin at Lin Pictures on projects such as the Lego franchise, including Lego Batman, Lego Ninjago, and The Lego Movie 2, as well as Stephen King’s IT, Disney’s Aladdin, Netflix’s Deathnote, and television shows such as Frequency and Lethal Weapon for Fox and ABC. Furthermore, Hayes gives us an in-depth look at the challenges of producing films – whether short pieces or feature length work – on a low budget. She also gives us her advice on how to best approach to making short films. You can read our interview below in full.

A.H. Uriah: Hello, Lucy! Thank you so much for doing this interview! I’d love to begin by asking you how you came to become involved in this business. Was it always your dream to work in the filmmaking industry, or did the prospects of becoming a producer grow on you gradually over time? Could you tell us a little bit about how your life transpired to get you from your earliest aspirations to where you are now – the producer of dozens of music videos, TVCs, branded content, short films, and corporate videos across many mediums, as well as the co-owner of video agency Stanley & Morph and the animation studio Wabi Sabi Studios?

Lucy J. Hayes:
Hi A.H., thanks so much for having us featured on the blog!

From a very young age I had always wanted to be involved in some form of a creative industry. I am very inspired by the films I loved as a kid, films like: Home Alone, My Girl, Jurassic Park, and Beauty & The Beast. I dabbled in acting and directing, however, I was terrible! I always enjoyed creating plays with my friends, and I think this is when the idea of perhaps pursuing producing came to me. I did an internship in New York when I was 22, where I worked for a Theatre and Film Producer. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and really galvanised the notion that producing was the direction I wanted to take. You get to be involved with the creation of the idea from its very inception, and then follow it through to the very end… and also, I love being the boss (haha)!

Knotjira (right) and Knitsune (left) on the set of Lost & Found in the midst of being animated. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

When I got back from New York I decided to apply to the Victorian College of the Arts Film & Television Post Graduate producing program, and got in. After completing the course at VCA I taught drama at a high school, and volunteered as a producer on short films and music videos. This eventually led to me working full time as a freelance producer of ads and videos in Melbourne. It was then that I met some really talented, emerging creatives, and have continued to collaborate with them to this day.

Lucy J. Hayes holds the Knitsune (left) and Knotjira (right) puppets. Photo courtesy of Lucy J. Hayes.

A.H.: Can you tell us a little bit about how Stanley & Morph came about as well as Wabi Sabi Studios? How have you seen the two production companies – as well as yourself as a producer – grow over the years?

LJH: I met my husband, John, at the VCA. He was in the writer/director course. After finishing, we were both freelancing for an array of different production companies around Melbourne. Towards the end of 2014, we received our first job together – him as director, myself as producer, and from there we formed our company Stanley & Morph. We have been operating for a few years now and have managed to build a loyal customer base, creating all manner of digital communication for various platforms. Wabi Sabi Studios was started as an animation studio purely for the production of the film Lost & Found. I co-own Wabi Sabi Studios with directors Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe.

Andrew Goldsmith (left), Lucy J. Hayes (middle), and Bradley Slabe (right). Photo courtesy of Lucy J. Hayes.

A.H.: In 2016, you received a Screen Australia Creative Talent Suite placement and went to work at Lin Pictures in Hollywood, where, for a year, you worked with the producer Dan Lin and had the opportunity to work across the development and production of Lego Batman, Lego Ninjago, The Lego Movie 2, Stephen King’s IT, Disney’s Aladdin, Netflix’s Deathnote, as well as the television shows Frequency and Lethal Weapon for Fox and ABC. From your perspective, how does the filmmaking atmosphere differ in Hollywood when compared with that of Australia? Can you tell us some of what did you learn as a producer while working in Hollywood and how learning such lessons has changed your approach to your job?

LJH: Working at Lin Pictures was an amazing experience. Dan Lin is currently one of the most successful producers in Hollywood, and I was there during a really exciting time where many of the films now being released were being developed and produced.

Lead animator Samuel Lewis fashions textured eyelids for Knotjira. Source: Instagram.

The process of making films in Australia and Hollywood is very different. In Australia, the majority of our content is funded by Government agencies, so it’s a much smaller industry but also very competitive and the wheels turn a little slower.

Various stages of the Knitjira puppet in the making. Source: Vimeo.

In contrast, Hollywood is a city built almost exclusively for movie making – you can feel it in the atmosphere and it can be a really energetic, kinetic and exciting place. Projects can go from script to screen in the matter of a few short months. At times, I also felt it to be a fairly lonely place – what I love about making films is collaborating with writers, directors, editors, casting agents and really feeling part of the creative process and development of the film. Because Hollywood is built around the studio system, I found that I was more removed from the key creatives, the directors and writers than I would be as an independent producer in Australia.

A.H.: How did Lost & Found come about and move into development with Wabi Sabi Studios? Why did this story excite you and what did your involvement with the project look like across development and production?

LJH: Andrew approached me with the script in August 2015. I immediately fell in love with the story and with these two gorgeous little, knitted characters. I had been producing animation for a few years, and had worked on some small stop motion projects, and was really excited to tackle something on a larger scale. I’d also worked with Sam Lewis regularly and was really excited that we had him on board as our lead animator. I was very involved creatively from the get go. Brad, Goldy and myself have always felt like a strong team, which allowed us to trust each others instincts and play to our strengths. It’s been a really wonderful and rewarding process of collaboration and creation.

Prop maker Donna Yeatman models a Bonsai tree from Sculpey. Source: Instagram.

A.H.: One of the directors who you’ve worked with on many occasions is Andrew Goldsmith, who co-directed Lost & Found. What did your interactions with Goldsmith and with Bradley Slabe, who also co-directed as well as wrote the film, look like? What does a healthy producer-director relationship and how did you, as producer, help to foster such a relationship on Lost & Found?


LJH: Brad and Goldy are both great directors, but more importantly to me, they are also just really nice, good people and our visions and tastes are strongly aligned. Sometimes being a producer can be a really lonely, solitary experience, however, I have never felt this way with Brad & Goldy, it feels like the three of us are a team, and we are equally responsible for all parts of the film. Communication is really important and an alignment of visions is essential in creating anything together. I feel like they trust me implicitly, as I do them and that’s super important in any successful producer/director relationship.

Lucy J. Hayes (left), Andrew Goldsmith (middle), and Bradley Slabe (right) in a Facebook call concerning Lost & Found. Source: Instagram.

A.H.: Can you tell us a little about what the filmmaking industry is like in Australia, especially in relation to smaller budget productions, such as short films and small budget feature length work? What are the incentives and drawbacks to producing a film – especially an animated film – in Australia?

LJH: Smaller budget productions are always going to be difficult, no matter where in the world you are. We are really lucky in Australia to have Government screen agencies that provide funding for the majority of Australian films – all the way from development through to post production. They also fund short films and multiplatform/online works which supports emerging producers and directors and are a huge stepping stone in elevating any career in the industry. I produced a webseries in 2015 which was shot for $6000. We received multiplatform funding from Screen Australia for post production which was essential to the series being complete. We were then accepted into TriBeca NOW in 2016, which was an awesome opportunity, and myself and the other creatives have all felt much career progression come from this experience/opportunity.

Production designer Rennie Watson secures all the props in the lost property box prop. Source: Instagram.

These agencies also invest in careers and offer individual funding for Australian practitioners to undertake placements or opportunities that we would not usually be able to afford.

Directors Andrew Goldsmith (left) and Bradley Slabe (right) review shooting schedules. Source: Instagram.

We also have some great tax incentives, particularly for animation and visual effects. In fact, both Peter Rabbit and the LEGO films have been animated by Animal Logic who are based in Sydney. I think that as the world is becoming more global, it’s easier to open ourselves up to co-productions with other countries.

Cultural advisor Kei Shiokawa illustrates a menu prop for Lost & Found. Source: Instagram.

In the future, I’d like to see myself work with other countries in continuing to leverage of our tax incentives and our immense talent to create great work. I’m beginning to think of myself as a producer based in Australia, rather than an Australian producer, and I hope this thinking will lead to further opportunities to make engaging and exciting films with other countries.

The set of Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

A.H.: Can you explain for us the different avenues and processes of getting an animated short film made Australia? What avenues would you suggest an aspiring director take to get their short film produced?

LJH: I really understand the difficulties of getting a short film made! Lost & Found was fortunate enough to receive funding through Screen Australia’s HOT SHOTS program. It’s a really competitive funding stream and they only select 5-6 films and teams to be a part of it. This film wouldn’t exist without the support of Screen Australia as it’s a film that would of been too expensive and too complicated for us to fund on our own.

Knotjira on the set of Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

In terms of getting a short film made – I honestly think you just have to do it. Surround yourself with people who you get on well with, who have the same aspirations as you, and band together and help each other make films. J.K. Rowling recently said “Never wait in expectation of perfection or you’ll wait forever. Do the best you can with what you’ve got and be the one who dared rather than those who merely dream.” I love that, and think it’s a great philosophy for life as a filmmaker!

Set and prop dresser Laura Curtis paints eyelids for Knotjira. Source: Instagram.

A.H.: What’s next for you, Stanley & Morph, and Wabi Sabi Studios? What goals and dreams relating to your career do you still have yet to fulfill, and how do you plan going about them?


LJH: I’m always on the lookout for my next project. I love working with talented people, who have a strong vision and want to achieve it. I have two feature films projects in the works which I am really excited about. I’d also love to produce more children’s content, either live action or animation. I also really love documentary as a storytelling medium and I’m planning to direct a short documentary, which will be a bit of a passion project for me. I have so many dreams and goals waiting to be fulfilled – too many to list! I’m really excited about Lost & Found and it’s future, and I hope to continue producing film & television and collaborating with awesome people for a really long time.


You can explore more of Lucy’s work by visiting her website and LinkedIn, as well as Stanley and Morph’s website and Instagram.

Lost & Found is not yet available to view online in full, although you can watch the trailer for the film by going here. You can learn more about the film by visiting its brilliantly adorable and incredibly insightful Instagram profile, as well its Facebook and website. You can watch the film’s behind-the-scenes featurette by going here.

This article is the forth in a series of articles featuring Stop Motion Geek’s interviews with the team behind Lost & Found. You can read the first article in the series – an interview with Bradley Slabe, the writer of the film as well as one half of the film’s director duo – by going here. You can read the second article in the series – an interview with Andrew Goldsmith, the second half of the film’s director duo as well as the co-editor of the film and VFX creative director – by going here. You can read the third article in the series – an interview with Samuel Lewis, the only animator to animate on the seven-and-a-half minute long film as well as the character designer and sculptor – by going here.

You can stay tuned for the upcoming articles and interviews with the rest of Lost & Found’s brilliant team by subscribing to Stop Motion Geek via the “subscribe” button at the top right corner of our homepage, or by following us on Facebook @StopMotionGeek, or by visiting https://www.facebook.com/StopMotionGeek/. You can also stay up-to-date with the blog by following us on Instagram or @stop.motion.geek.blog.

Knotjira in Lost & Found. Photo courtesy of Andrew Goldsmith.

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