Yessica's Journey Blog

Welcome to the Yessica's Journey Blog Site, a Journey through Mental Health, Wellbeing and Creativity.


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Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Mentors – Huge thanks to Peter Gianfrancesco and Welcome to New Mentor Amanda Hedley Chief Executive Officer

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved Please do not copy or download images or text.

Peter Gianfrancesco and Amanda Hedley New CEO at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

Peter Gianfrancesco and Amanda Hedley New CEO at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

I would like to say a Huge thank you to Peter Gianfrancesco for all his help and support on the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. Peter who is the Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, has been my mentor for several years and has been a huge asset to the project with his knowledge and experience of mental health and wellbeing. I would like to thank him for all the help he has given me over the years and for believing in me and not giving up on me despite the difficulties I have had with the project. I would like to thank Peter and Mind for helping to fund the project. We are staying in touch which is great, Peter has always shown a genuine interest in the project and I won’t let him down.

Anastacia with Peter Gianfrancesco

Anastacia with Peter Gianfrancesco

Peter is leaving Mind to work abroad in America and Australia. It is very sad to lose Peter and he will be missed by so many people including myself. I wish him well for the future and look forward to seeing him at the launch of ‘Yessica’s Journey’ in a few years time with Trisha. Peter is a brilliant communicator, great listener and an extremely caring person. He has a great sense of humor and has done so much in developing Mind with his innovative ideas for which he should be very proud.

Anastacia with Amanda Hedley New Mentor for the Project

Anastacia with Amanda Hedley New Mentor for the Project

I would like to welcome Amanda Hedley the new Chief Executive Officer at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind to the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. Amanda is my new mentor and I am looking forward to working with her in the future. I would like to thank Amanda for her interest and support and I enjoyed showing both Peter and Amanda the development of the project. I would also like to congratulate Amanda on her new job at Mind and wish her well.

Amanda has a background working in the NHS for many years and her experience and knowledge of Mental Health will be a huge asset to the project.

Peter and Amanda

Peter and Amanda


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Collecting Yessica Puppet Heads from David Neat

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved Please do not copy/download images or text.

David Neat in his Studio

I was so excited as I travelled down to London to see David Neat who has made Yessica’s Heads for the Stop Motion Puppet in ‘Yessica’s Journey’. She looks amazing and David has done a fantastic job of creating her, she looks so beautiful. It was so lovely to see her come to life and finally her heads are finished. Seeing all my designs and hard work finally finished was a very special moment for me. I have changed her design many times over the years, her design often reflecting the emotional mood I was in. I have noticed how when I was really unwell my drawings and designs are quite different to when I am feeling more well. She started off being quite abstract and strange-looking but I realised that some of my ideas would not work for the wider audience so I kept some of my original ideas and modified it.

David is an extremely talented Sculptor, Model Maker and teacher and I am very lucky to have met him. He has made the set for the animation which looks amazing. I managed to pusade him to make her heads as he had never made a puppet head before and the budget was very small for the amount of work and time he has given to it.  He is also very busy with his own art and teaching commitments. It was a challenge for him and he learnt many new techniques. He spent a lot of time on it and managed to solve many difficult problems in making her. One of her heads was particularly hard to make.

I would like to thank David Neat for all the hard work he has put into this project, his time and commitment and his attention to detail. I will always be grateful to him, he is a very kind man and I don’t think anyone else would have cared as much as he has about making her and the set to such a high standard. His passion for his work shines though her and I hope he is as proud of her as I am.

Testing Yessica Armature on Perforated Metal Sheet

Testing Yessica Armature on Perforated Metal Sheet

Unfortunately I can’t show her or the designs until 6/8 months before the film is due to be completed in 2016 but I can assure everyone that you will be impressed with the high standard and quality of his work. Without David I don’t think the animation would look as professional and without his help and commitment to the project I would have really struggled. He has created my ideas beautifully and to see everything come to life has truly been special to me.

I have not been the easiest person to work with either and David has always been very patient with me and I have no idea how he has put up with me at times. Often I would come up with so many ideas, change my mind a lot and I was always behind and late with getting designs to David which caused so many delays.

When I got her back I only had a few days to test out the heads on the armature as I then had to take her back to London for Fiona Barty to make her body and Costume. It was great to finally do some stop motion animation just for testing to make sure everything was working and see any problems there may be with animating her.

The set and puppets will all be used hopefully in training workshops, events, exhibitions and will permanently go on display. It will be used to inspire people both in Mental Health, Education and Art. I hope it also encourages creativity in people and a passion for their work whatever medium that may be.

Thank you David.


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Suzie Hanna Joins the Yessicas Journey Project as Production Advisor

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved Please do not download or copy images and text

Suzie Hanna Production Advisor and Anastacia

Suzie Hanna Production Advisor and Anastacia

I am pleased to announce that Suzie Hanna is helping me on the Yessica’s Journey project as a Production Advisor. She is Professor in Animation Education, Senior Lecturer in Animation and Course Leader in MA Animation & Sound Design at the Norwich University of the Arts.

I have known Suzie for many years, since I was in my twenties. We worked together at the Norwich University of Arts, when I was a Digital Media Technician and Suzie was Course Leader on the BA Hons Animation Degree course. Later in 2006 she became my tutor when I decided to do a degree in Animation. She is an excellent teacher and I have learnt so much from her, so really pleased she is involved.

Her skills and knowledge in animation has been a huge help to me and she is kindly helping out on a voluntary basis. She has already been working with me on the script to help improve it especially in getting it to work better for the wider audience. We are also trying to cut it down as the animation is far too long. I have tended to try and put too much content into the script so it is time to let some of it go which is really hard but I know it will improve it.

Most of the time I have been unwell whilst working on it but now I am feeling much better I can finally let go. It will make the message of the film much stronger and also help people to understand and follow a storyline which will keep people interested in watching it.

Sometimes I just could not think straight and I would be constantly coming up with new ideas and changing my mind. I have tended to have so many ideas in my head which is great but you have to be able to focus which has been hard at times. When you find it hard to concentrate and lack motivation everything becomes a huge mountain to climb.

My perfectionism has sometimes contributed to huge delays in the project but at the same time it has helped drive a high standard in the overall quality of the animation. Life is not perfect and neither are we, to be content and just learn to simply ‘be’ is more important. To strive for perfection is striving for something which is impossible to reach. It can have its advantages as well as disadvantages much like Bipolar but if you can find a healthy balance then this can be key to improving your wellbeing . If we are never satisfied and we feel our best is never good enough it will only lead to worry and self doubt. I found this interesting quote from the artist Salvador Dali which sums it up.

‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. ~Salvador Dali’

The script has constantly changed and developed since we first started it in 2010 so I am looking forward to finally finishing it. Animation is so time consuming and as I have lost so much time through being unwell it will help to make the project achievable. Suzie’s advice is invaluable and I can’t thank her enough.

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Suzie Hanna Production Advisor

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Suzie Hanna Production Advisor

Oz Osborne who is now the Production Manager meeting Suzie for the first time, see picture above. Oz has continued to work with me since 2010 and is also helping with the script development. His help has been invaluable and I am so pleased he is now the Production Manager. I really feel I have got a good team helping me and after my relapse last year I feel more confident is getting the animation finished.