Second to None – Official Website

An animated stop-motion black comedy about the world’s second oldest man.

About the Film

Second to None - About the Film

Written and directed by IFTA nominee Vincent Gallagher, ‘Second to None’ is a richly detailed stop-motion animation about the world’s second oldest man.

Frederick Butterfield has always been runner up to his twin brother Herman. When Herman, the older by a mere minute, becomes the world’s oldest man, Frederick finally sees an opportunity to be first place.

Frederick will stop at nothing to claim the top spot in the most inventive way possible.

The Irish Film Board presents a stunning stop-motion animated film that is painstakingly detailed. Delivered with a sense of energy and black comedy that is equal in measure to the craftsmanship behind the film, you will see that Second to None truly lives up to it’s name.


Where did you get the idea for the story?

The idea for Second To None firstly came from reading an article about the world’s oldest person dying and being replaced by the then second oldest. I thought to myself, Jesus, that must be the first time that person’s name has ever been mentioned in relation to being the world's oldest person. So it immediately threw up these images of someone waiting in the wings for their chance to shine.

How did the film come about?

I had been developing the project with the idea of shooting it as a stop motion animation. So the first thing I did was work with character designer Pierre Butler and we began to work out what the characters that occupy this world would look like. There were a few iterations and ultimately we landed on a design that we were happy with. From there we applied for funding to the Irish Film Board with Producer Damian Farrell and started production at the start of 2016.

What was the budget for the film?

The film was funded by the Irish Film Board and RTÉ with a budget of €45,000. Stop motion animation is a very costly and time consuming process, so even with a budget like that, we had to plan everything very carefully.

Had you done animation before?

Second to None is my first fully animated film, and my first ever attempt at stop-motion animation. As a film director I see my job as telling the story in the best visual way possible. Animation is just one way to do that, the same as live action. You ultimately have to make all the same decisions you do with live action, but you have to prepare even more so in animation.

What is the process behind Stop Motion Animation?

Stop-motion animation is the earliest form of moving picture. It involves moving an inanimate object, photographing every change, and stitching them together to give the illusion of movement. Second to None uses puppets with metal armature that holds the character's position in between shots. The animator meticulously moves the puppet 12 times for every second of animation. It is important to know exactly what you want out of a shot, as it might take up to eight hours to complete a single take. We did find ourselves in a position where we had to redo a complicated shot like this/ It breaks your heart to do something so time consuming and detailed again, but getting it right is the most important thing.

Who did the music?

The music for the film was composed and recorded by St Francis Hotel. I had worked with them on my last film, Love is a Sting, to create a beautiful soundtrack for the film. With Second To None we wanted to get a sense of the era that these elderly characters came from, so we went for a jazz inspired score.

How long did the film take?

We had about 2 months preproduction, where we finalised the designs, did some testing and built the first set. From there we shot for a period of six months. This included further set builds, we would build a set and animate on it while the next one was being built. Everything in the film is hand built specifically for the film. This meticulous attention to detail, as with anything in stop-motion animation, does not come quickly. The amazing thing about doing stop motion nowadays is the technology at your disposal to see what you are dealing with instantly. We would do a shot, then convert it to a proxy file which I would get on my iphone, and I was able to assemble the entire film that way, on my iphone! We cut the film together on my iphone while we were shooting, and once we had the entire film cut we then took that sequence into a computer and relinked the raw image files to complete the edit.

Where was it filmed?

We shot and built everything in Dublin, Ireland. The Bowsie workshop housed us for the entire duration of the shoot.