Short of the Week

The Girl and the Fox

Ilona is a nine-year-old girl who lives in the wilderness with her mother and father. Food is running low, and when a mysterious fox starts killing their livestock, she has no choice but to track down the strange creature in order to ensure the survival of her family.

One of the many reasons I love animation as a medium is its universality. There’s something about the art of motion through pictures that compels creators to tell stories solely with visuals, absent of dialogue or other cultural limitations. Play. Watch. Enjoy. Language not required. Sure, there are a multitude of exceptions, but for many animators—especially those behind short films—the medium becomes a celebration of speaking with one’s pictures. Story through action, emotion through motion. So is the case with Base14’s The Girl and the Fox, a lyrical, dialogue-free fairy tale that is as easily accessible as it is deep.

At its core, the film is about survival. When a mysterious fox starts killing her family’s livestock, a young girl sets out to track and kill the nefarious creature. What results is a series of encounters that turns the very notion of survival on its head—an examination of how one’s enemy can quickly become one’s savior. This is visual storytelling at it’s finest—a powerful and symbolic journey without a single word uttered. The film’s painterly style is a stunning, glorious patchwork of textured brushstrokes. Each background matte would be a worthy addition to a great picture book, a technique that evokes David Hellman’s environment work from the hit video game, Braid. The characters are depicted in a deceptively simple contourless style, featuring organic shapes absent of harsh lines. This creates an interesting contrast between the smooth shapes and the austere wilderness that the characters inhabit.

Director Tyler J. Kupferer’s workflow was quite unique. He pre-visualized character movements with 3D programs and then used the resulting renders as reference to accurately reproduce the motion using hand drawn techniques.  The final output was then put together in a compositing program. The result is effortlessly unique—a film with an obvious 2D aesthetic but with an underlying computer generated feel. Like the character design, the animation is equally fluid. The very way the fox moves is magical—each motion elegant and purposeful, spry but not skittish. A great amount of emotion is conveyed through close-ups of the characters’ faces—quite an achievement considering they are rendered with only simple, organic shapes defined by subtle dimensional shading.

The film has been deservedly recognized on the festival and awards circuit, officially selected for a multitude of fests and even nominated for a Student Academy Award. I’m hoping that the film’s success gives Kupferer, a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design and now living and working in LA, the chance to keep telling and spinning gorgeous, compelling tales with images. His talents are on display next in another SCAD project titled, Rain Dance, this time in a producing role. The film retains much of the creative talent from this film, and will be one we keep our eyes peeled for!

Ivan is a filmmaker, video editor, and motion graphic artist from the Washington, DC area. He is an avid movie watcher and podcaster. He’s also quite handsome and charming (at least that's what his Mom says). For more information about Ivan, visit Lucky 9 Studios.
  • Bjarte Edvardsen

    Beautifully done! No dialogue needed in this film.

  • Mowfak

    Wow powerful visuals, and sound very impressive.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I really liked this! I thought it was a great message about sharing the environment instead of occupying it. Also spot on about how the sometimes static quality of the animation served to make the brilliant spark of life it produced seem more enchanting.

  • CR8MOR

    I love this short.  I’ve watched it 5 times since last night.  I just wish the man – I presume was the father – showed some emotion as well.  Now I’m afraid the Girl will grow up to be a stripper.  This would actually lend itself well to another tale of survival.

  • The Not So Easily Amused Fart

    What a real deal-breaker we have here.. It surely is a deal-breaker because nobody would ever fucking consider buying this! Well, let’s get to the point. The little girl is not so happy as her duck/geese/chicken hybrid animal was killed. My first concern is the lack of ability from the artists side, what the hell are those birds?! What species?! It terrorizes me at night and left me with cold sweat for several days. We then move on to the great story-line that then kicks in.. A tale of a mad little girl who is mad at a fox. It’s such a heartbreaking piece of art that only the most fanatic, insane person could come up with while on drugs. I have blown farts out of my old arse that tell stories better than this animation ever will be able to. But let me get back on track! She is mad at the fox but then seems to find the fox sweet, a moment which we all were waiting for in excitement. It eventually then ends up with us figuring out that the little girl went missing in the forest, and the father and mother is there to get her. The amount of loose ends in this movie makes me think that my wobbly backdoor tool-shed is a handy beautifully crafted piece of art – which it is not! We are now left with the questions that arise after an intense viewing session of this piece of absolute crap. Why were she out there in the middle of the forest with a colony of hybrid ducks, sheltering them if she only were lost? Why did she get lost in the first place? To pursue a Christian cult? To get away from abusive parents? Was the fox really her pet? We will never know. This is shit and I want my money back even though I didn’t pay a single penny for it. I want the money from their budget, actually, for taking time out of my busy schedule to sit down and get shot down by a load of infected diarrhea. I rest my case.