To animate is to bring something to life. It’s the struggle every animator faces when staring at a blank page, empty 3D scene, or lump of clay. How do I create a believable character from nothing? Barbara Benas’ student film, Always Only Ever, does an amazing job of just that. Our hero, a rough yet emotionally soft cowboy (not unlike Dan Stark), has just been abandoned by his life’s love and sits drinking away his pain at a bar with an unsympathetic bartender. Soon, he stumbles into the wrong bathroom and is jumped by a gang of vicious women. Or so he thinks. As the story continues, we learn that our vulnerable cowboy, surrounded by a selfish world, is really searching for a bit of kindness.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s character that brings great animation to life. Likewise, it’s character that buoys Always, Only, Ever to great heights. The character design resembles the cartoonishly expressionist illustrations of Jesse LeDoux not unlike another favorite of SOTW, Adventure Time. Even the character movements feel human. Watch the subtle actions and movements of the cowboy, the way he blindly gropes at air when his whisky bottle is taken away. It’s almost more human than we are.