Short of the Week

Stanley Pickle

Stanley’s life runs like clockwork, until a chance encounter with a mysterious girl turns his world upside down…

If I am able to effectively communicate two things about Vicky Mather’s lauded 2010 graduation film, I should be able to convince to you to watch the 11min piece, and you will thank me for it.

First a plot summary; an original fairy tale, Stanley Pickle is a genius recluse existing in a mechanical world of his own devising. Having automated every element of his surroundings through a complicated system of windup engineering, Stanley’s world is a rigid one, expelled of surprises or genuine interactions. From his window however he glimpses a carefree woman who disrupts his comfort and causes him to slowly withdraw from his comfortable coccoon.

Now, the two things I need to convince you of. First, the production levels are astounding. Animated in a pixilation style (live-action stop-motion) the execution is right up there with noted efforts like Zaramella’s Luminaris or King’s Ten Thousand Pictures of You. The pixilation, necessary for some of the effects, also aids the story, as the unnatural but clockwork motion complements the mechanical motif. Also the art direction might be even better than the animation. Drew Calden, in his shorts shorts and fabulous sweater, looks like a Jamie Travis protagonist all grown up, and the splendid sets of the house pop in brilliant retro-style and color.

Secondly, despite story elements that I generally consider red flags (boy who doesn’t want to grow up, manic pixie girl who sets him free), Mather weaves morbidly funny elements directly into the fabric of the story. Stanley’s dad pops an eyeball into his coffee cup and its creepy and awesome. Plus it’s not even the best example. This darkness helps to harden the edge of film, steeling it against a propensity towards cutesy cloyingness.

The film had a really lengthy and notable festival run, winning at Raindance, Edinburgh and LA. Mather was selected by BAFTA to be part of “Brits to Watch” a film gala in LA, and sitting next to Andrew Stanton and Chris Evans with Tarantino in the audience, was an experience she cheerfully recalls. The praise got her representation at Aardman’s ad division where she is available for commercial projects.  The film has spent much of the last year behind the paywall as part of Shorts International’s iTunes catalog, but today marks its online debut on Vimeo. Hopefully the attention will provide this rising star an even bigger profile boost.

~
Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • griff

    very nice. Reminiscent of Bolexbrothers Tom Thumb.

  • griff

    very nice. Reminiscent of Bolexbrothers Tom Thumb.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Great to see this finally released to the world. I hate to say it, but this film would’ve been even fresher had it been released online back in 2010. Better late than never.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    I think a lot of people still get sucked into Shorts International not knowing the score. The idea of being in the iTunes store is tempting though there are no case studies for independent short filmmakers that show it’s actually a good idea.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Ahh. I didn’t know they went the Shorts Int’l route. Would be great to hear more about the experience from the filmmaker. Perhaps an article?

  • Vicky Mather

    It’s tempting to be in the iTunes store only so you can say ‘Available on iTunes’ – what wasn’t anticipated was an 8 month wait to actually make it happen. Yes, we did get sucked in.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    I completely understand the temptation, Vicky. The distribution industry is clouded in secrecy. More filmmakers need to know the real tradeoffs. Hope to hear more from you soon!

  • vicky mather

    I totally agree Andrew! Thanks :)

  • vicky mather

    I love those guys.

  • Anonymous

    Very nice :) I wonder if he meets the girl after …

  • Eva, Italy

    Movies like this are the reason why I love short of the week :)

  • LostPlace

    phenomenal!

  • javi

    this is great!!

  • javi

    this is great!!

  • http://JawaadAhmadKhan.com/ Jawaad Ahmad Khan

    The style of this film is absolutely incredible (I’m new to pixilation, but I think this film is probably a great example of it for me to start with). I must say, part of what I liked about the film was that part of it disturbed me. There were moments I physically reacted to not only the shots (eyeball popping out), but also to the implications within the story which were heightened within seconds. I don’t know if you want to call it a twists, as apparently the plot summary makes it clear that Stanley created his own world, but when I saw [spoiler] his room turn into a lab where he actually mechanically built things in his world, I was very surprised, and for me, it almost turned Stanley from protagonist to antihero.[end] But nonetheless, these days it’s difficult for films to cause an actual genuine reaction (aside from cheap scares in horror movies), but this film definitely did it, not only visually but within its story, and that is something I truly admire. A+! (It is a student film :) ).

  • ka?an

    scary

  • WILLBMUSIC

    I think one word sums up this short….BRILLIANT!