The BAFTA-nominated short „My Dad” shows us a colourful, loud, often confusing bit of Britain through the eyes of a child who is, in turn, understanding life through his father. „My dad keeps me safe”, says the voiceover- but safe from what? As he gradually accepts his father’s opinions as his own, the boy’s world becomes more black and white, simplified into „us” versus „them”, into English and unwelcome „others”. The last shot of the film, a photograph of a man and a child in tears at an English Defence League rally, surrounded by police, is a very powerful image.
My Dad – Trailer
Directed/ written/ animated by Marcus Armitage
Animation by Jonathan Long, Diana Gradinaru and Noriko Ishibe
Voice by Divian Ladwa
Sound Design Laura Jane Stacey
Sound Mix by Mike Wyled
In only five minutes, the film manages to tell a story that feels strongly relevant to our times, as debates on immigration and multiculturalism are making headlines everywhere in Europe- although „My Dad” is particularly attuned to issues of British identity. The director of the film, Royal College of Art graduate Marcus Armitage, tells animationmagazine.eu about his process of creating „My Dad”:
How does your choice of technique relate to the story of your film?
I used different mediums in this film for many reasons. „My Dad” is about how racism and the fear of others can affect a young person’s life. I wanted to show a multicultural world, much like the part of London I live in. There is a multitude of colours and characters, shown by my use of oil pastels. As these inherited opinions begin to take hold, we see the colours beginning to deteriorate and show the hard edged and black and white newspaper clippings underneath.
The story benefits from animation because of animation’s ability to show transformation. I was able to literally tear away at the frames to reveal the newspaper layer underneath and create a visualisation of this idea that the characters in the film can still interact with. It also allowed me to show this from a new perspective, to get inside the child’s head and imagine the world from his point of view, creating an intense colour palette that shows his emotions at that moment of being overwhelmed.
I was very interested in where racism comes from and why people are the way they are. It has been in the news for a long time, regarding immigration into the UK, and I wanted to make something about this, hopefully something relevant for today’s world. I began research into inherited racism through the family, and began creating this story of a child surrounded by a circle of influence. The picture at the end of the film, from the EDL rally, was very important for the film. I discovered it while researching and it was so powerful and relevant I knew I had to use it.
How do you think the boy and his dad would react to seeing your film?
I don’t know how they would react, and that is one of the risks of making this film that I took. The film isn’t just about those two people; it is about something that is happening everyday to children everywhere. Looking up to our parents and taking their advice is a part of growing up and that photo really highlighted the reality of the situation.
What kind of animated films do you like? Do you have any role models in animation?
I love the films of Bill Plympton, the way he uses animation to create strangely shaped characters, and also Jonathan Hodgson for his use of colour and the way he moves the camera through crowds and into people’s conversations. I don’t have any role models in animation; I just want to keep making my films and pushing my ideas and getting them out there for people to see.
What do you think is the future of hand-drawn/handmade animation, since mainstream animation is nowadays entirely CGI?
It’s very hard to say! Mainstream feature animation is CGI, yes, but that is not the case in commercial animation. There is a lot of hand drawn and handmade animation being made for TV and online, and the more CGI gets made, the more different hand drawn becomes. I think it is something that will keep changing over time. We will get bored of watching CGI films, a hand-drawn one will come along and we will all love hand-drawn again. I don’t have any authority on the subject, all I know is there aren’t many hand drawn animators out there, which makes it a much more specialist and in demand skill.
The BAFTA ceremony will take place on Sunday, 8 February 2015 in London. „My Dad” is nominated for Best British Short Animation alongside „The Bigger Picture” directed by Daisy Jacobs and „Monkey Love Experiments” directed by Ainslie Henderson.