I was tempted to slap a NSFW label on this newest short from acclaimed music video director Greg Jardin. If you’re a sentimental sort, it certainly would be embarrassing to have co-workers inquire as to why you’re crying in your cubicle for seemingly no reason! With themes of alienation and transcendence, Floating can be heartbreakingly poignant, but I ultimately decided that such a designation is misleading. Still, Floating once again proves our remarkable human ability to discover empathy for abstract non-humans.
Known for his high-concept stop-motion music videos, Jardin, in a new passion project, displays remarkable adeptness at CG in crafting his remarkable protagonist. A bare-bones production, shot on public streets, Jardin puts in extra work in handling Edit/Sound Design and VFX in addition to writing/directing. The result is a film that looks much more lush and expensive than it probably was. The plotting of Floating is somewhat predictable, but the remarkable “performance” of his animated lead hits the right spots in enabling an audience to experience his crushing loneliness.
It is a digression of sorts, but it is interesting to think about the privileged place that balloons have in short film. The Red Balloon of course is, arguably, the most beloved short film of all time. It produced an splendid homage too — The Black Balloon from the Safdie brothers won the grand prize at Sundance a couple of years ago, and quite deservedly so. While the three films are similar in their depiction of being’s desire for acceptance and community, while watching Floating it was another film came to mind strongly, Spike Jonze’s remarkable short film for Absolut, I’m Here. Some of that recognition is superficial, the bright overexposed image complete with grain. Fundamentally though it was a similarity in plot that resonates strongest — the slow disintegration of the body. This in any context is momentous sacrifice that shocks, and while the layer of abstraction that a non-human character provides makes the it more palatable, it is no less powerful.
Music Video creators have been increasingly turning to short film documentary and narratives as the business models in the music industry continue to suffer and squeeze video budgets. Jardin is the latest to pursue that path, and in Jason Baum, his long-time producer, he’s found a capable collaborator to explore that transition. Baum has produced many of the more notable short films to come out of the music video world the last two years, including Hiro Murai for Childish Gambino, David Altobelli in a branded short for Grolsch, and Aoife McArdle for 55DSL. Floating is a fine addition to this growing trend, one that I’ve promised myself to cover in-depth for some time. Would you be interested in that? Holler in the comments and maybe it will grant me the motivation to write.