We strive towards specificity in film storytelling because it is the antidote to the generic. It has been codified as a rule within the script-coaching industry, and it is generally solid advice. But shorts are allowed to break rules whenever they like, especially when they are self-financed passion projects like Robin Joseph’s Fox and the Whale. Joseph isn’t concerned with finding meaning through dramatization, there is no richly developed protagonist with a compelling backstory. You’re not meant to connect to his film via a recognition of the plotting of the story, but through it’s spirit. It is not a film about a fox in search for a whale in any real sense, though that is what takes place on screen, but is no less than an allegory about the meaning of searching.
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.
If you’re a fan of science-fiction and short film, you’d probably already heard about Neill Blomkamp’s latest venture Oats Studios. A production company that labels their output as ‘experimental short films’ and is described as a “collective of ideas that feeds the internet” (in this cryptic What is Oats video), just as news was spreading about their aims and goals, Blomkamp and his team unexpectedly dropped their first short Rakka online.
Agent 327 thus feels like a charming throwback to the recent past, when animation schools were routinely graduating tradesfolk prepared to join the ranks at Pixar, Disney, or Dreamworks. It is a slick, action-comedy with a bright and conventional aesthetic that happens to be impeccably executed. If you miss the days when French schools were pumping out charmingly broad slapstick work like Oktapodi several times a year, you’ll get a kick out of this short, 4min piece.
Perfectly capturing that heavy-headed feeling one experiences when fighting sleep, Seoro Oh’s 4-minute graduation film Afternoon Class takes a simple concept and inventively transforms it into a hugely relatable and entertaining short.
If you’ve ever needed proof that 3D animation can be more than cutesy, “family friendly” fare look no further than Geist from Giant Animation Studios. Helmed by a trio of directors—Alex Sherwood Ben Harper, and Sean Mullen—Geist is a taut, suspenseful, emotional ride that is dripping with atmosphere. Rarely does a horror film look this unique and grab you so viscerally on an aesthetic level.
A flan-obsessed astronaut named Dave and his new partner, a highly intelligent seedless melon, head to Mars in Black Holes, an irreverent (and mildly NSFW) 3D animated short. Its makers, Noodles Studio, hope to develop the story into an adult animated sitcom via a just-launched Kickstarter.