Short Film: Mobile

Mobile milks the most out of a simple setup, combining excellent character design and animation with a keen directorial eye for movement and action to create a kid-friendly short that’s full of delightful hijinks. Created at the famous Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Verena Fels’ celebrated short has played hundreds of festivals before arriving quietly online this year, but is destined to become a children’s favorite for years to come.

A menagerie of adorable animals occupy spots on a mobile (that thing you hang above a crib to entertain babies) but their placement is inequitable—due to the large size of the cow, she is isolated all the way to one side to counterbalance the weight of the others. When she grabs the solicitous attention of the smallest of her remote companions, the cow works to engineer a new placement that will provide her company.

It’s a winning formula — take a simple, universal emotion and a visually apparent obstacle, then go to town, but what’s delightful about Mobile is the tension and variety of mishaps that Fels brings to bear on the premise. The chaos that Cow engenders is ingeniously conceived, and provides a plethora of silly and funny character moments as the various denizens of the mobile are swung into chaos. Clever camera angles, slow-motion whirlpools of motion, and artful complications with string, are among the high-wire acts that are explored in this 6min short that should feel too long for its premise but never does due to Fels’ artful execution and genuinely fine character work.

Since the success of Mobile in the early part of the decade, Fels has been hard at work on various short children’s series for the famous Studio Bilder. While these efforts have not seemed to breakout in a big way yet, the talent and fit is apparent, and with the worldwide profusion of kid’s entertainment thanks to Netflix Kids and the YouTube Kids app, further opportunity for Fels feel like they’re right around the corner.


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