Working away year long like elves in Santa’s workshop the animators at Blue Zoo are no strangers to creating charming short films as part of the studios in house shorts program, an ongoing effort to afford their animators room for creative expression between commercial work.
Last years More Stuff was a festive fist in the face of frivolity lampooning the excess of Christmas and introducing the world to a cast of cheeky elves who sung, danced and giggled their way through a catchy musical number, taking a pop at consumer excess in the process. The lively short was notable for the extraordinary rigs and lighting that the cartoony characters were enlivened by. This year directors Simone Giampaolo and Joe Kinch and the cheeky cast return in the sequel No More Stuff and are pitted against a vengeful Santa Claus in a short that evokes the classic Christmas tradition of movie watching with blockbuster films reimagined with a not so jolly antagonist and a seasonal feel.
The film has screened at festivals worldwide and garnered an award or two for the company, we spoke to Producer and Blue Zoo co-founder Tom Box about their latest short, short No More Stuff.
The first short was a seasonal bash at consumerism, where did that idea germinate?
At the time my daughter was obsession with Frozen, so I had animated musicals firmly lodged deep into my cranium. So I thought it would be fun to do something along those lines, then in a similar vein, having kids you’re very aware of the plethora of tat you are nagged to buy on a daily basis – so the brief to our artists kind of came out of that, plus we thought it would be a silly bit of fun to do.
How have you found the reaction to the first short?
More Stuff was such fun to make, and I think you can see that when you watch it – so when it was received well online, it was the cherry on the cake – it seemed to touch on a subject a lot of people could relate to! Since last year it’s won a few industry awards and the directors Simone & Joe have been able to attend to international film festivals with it, and fly the Blue Zoo flag!
Consumerism was under the microscope in the first film, you’ve gone after pop culture this time around.
At first we weren’t going to make a short this year as we’ve all been working flat out on other projects. But people started to tell us they can’t wait to see what we create this year – so not wanting to disappoint at Christmas, we thought we better get cracking and make something! By this point we only had a matter of weeks to make it, so we thought if we made a parody movie trailer re-using assets from More Stuff, a lot of Blue Zoo artists could all contribute to it without having to worry too much about narrative and continuity – so it was more to fit around creative constraints than anything else! Plus, we get to do an animations with lots of gratuitous explosions.
You’ve been running GIFs online with lots of different films parodied by different artists working at the studio, did the animators at Blue Zoo pitch a scenario each, how did it work?
Directors Simone and Joe came up with a bunch of ideas to get people thinking along the same lines, we didn’t want to do anything too obscure, or anything too cliched (i.e. no bullet time!). From there everyone suggested their own ideas, animators then paired up with lighters to make a few frames of animation. It allowed everyone to get involved, even if they only had a few hours spare around their proper work!
Below: A gallery of Blockbuster TV and Movie Parodies, can you name them all?
Blue Zoos programme of making shorts seems to fit in nicely amongst the TV series and commercial work, how important is it for a studio to flex this creative muscle?
For us it’s massively important, not only does it show a lighter, more playful side of what we do, it spreads our studio’s name far and wide. More Stuff brought us some fantastic projects and clients from across the world which would have never found us otherwise. It also allows us to test new technology, with More Stuff it was using GPU rendering which we’ve now implemented across all of our TV series work to massivly boost the quality of our output. Then with No More Stuff we rendered it in the cloud, so now we have unlimited render power on tap!