Dice Productions, the writing duo behind the quirky All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) are back with a new animation that eagle eyed viewers would have seen screen last month on Channel 4. Don’t Fear Death was commissioned by Lupus Films as part of the Random Acts program.
The film has recently been released online and will also be making its way to animation festivals including its world festival premiere in competition at Milano Film Festival, and competition selections at London International Animation Festival, Klik! Animation Festival Amsterdam, and more to be announced.
The short stars one of most familiar and elastic faces of UK comedy, Rik Mayall who loans his rip roaring narration to the animation. Whilst exalting the benefits of the post mortem lifestyle the film leaps and bounds from one idea to the next convincing the audience that death is okay in the grisly detailed style Hudson is becoming known for.
Dice Productions co-founders Louis Hudson and Ian Ravenscroft the director and writer of the short were on hand to explain a bit about the film and what is next for Dice Productions.
Where did the idea for an ode to death come from?
Louis – You’ll have to ask Ian, but Ian is great at taking an idea and running with it in an unexpected direction. A year or two ago Ian sent a rough draft arguing the benefits of death.
Ian – The idea actually came from the title. I wrote it down and the idea of someone arguing why you shouldn’t fear death became my starting point. Very soon after an initial brainstorm the idea to ‘pop out’ for a big reveal at the end came to me. That ending went through several versions, such as a classroom of kids for example, until Louis and I came up with the plane as a great way to ramp up the stakes and produce a bigger shock.
The core of the idea really was to take something serious and morbid and give it a big positive spin with a thick layer of irony. Also, dead bodies in normal situations is a funny idea.
Some of the situations in the film are pretty high concept, is this the reason you decided to animate it?
L – Sort of. When Random Acts came around, the idea was the perfect length and had a singularly disturbed logic that made it stand out. Each little set up was a fun ideas burst too. However, the final reveal of the Pilot and being able to weave in references to where that argument was going was what made it really satisfying.
We also visited a Memento Mori art exhibition at the Wellcome Trust before pitching the idea. I got really excited when I realising how positive it made me feel about being on my way to the grave.
How did the Random Act relationship come about?
L – Random Acts’ then editor, Ravi Amaratunga, was judging Shooting People’s Short Of The Week so we submitted All Consuming Love (Man In A Cat). Off the back of that we emailed him and he put us onto Chris Shepherd who was curating animated Random Acts for Lupus Films.
You were paired up with Ed Bye to work with Rik Mayall for the film, this must have been a bit of a dream come true?
L – Yeah, that all happened out of an odd string of events. We had previously done some tiny bits of animation for the sketch show Anna & Katy, which our friend Jon Petrie produced and Ed Bye directed. After Jon put in a word for us Ed did the same to Rik’s agent, and before he knew it Ed was accidentally implicated in the film.
Having both of them at the voice recording was literally like a dream. They’re old friends so the atmosphere was really warm and that made it really easy to play around with ideas. I’ve been absorbing their work since I can remember so there’s not many more comedy heroes I could have worked with greater than them.
As well as animation you work in live action, your next random act is live action, do you wish to expand on either medium or does it depend on the idea?
L – When we think of ideas they instantly slip into one or the other. If an idea can be filmed rather than animated we usually feel it should be filmed.
We’re equally influenced by animation and live action and we see them as just two different tools. I’m still very much an animator but as I learn more about live action the two are increasingly informing each other.
What can you tell us about the next Random Act?
I – The next film is called Gregory is a Dancer. The brief we responded to was asking for dance-based films and it just so happened that we had a film idea with dance at its centre. The idea is to tell a life story in 3 minutes with the main character doing nothing but the same dance throughout. We really like the challenge of telling a story only through changes in his environment and in that sense this film will be more experimental.
We’ll retain the scruffy, mundane surrealism we’ve used before, but this is less narrative and more music video than anything we’ve done previously. It should be a fun one to see how it all turns out.
L – It might actually contain some elements of animation too as we’re going to have to shoot against a green screen for budget reasons. It’s going to be fun.