A mature and visually splendid 3D animated short, Le Gouffre takes an earnest nature and packages it with unique visuals to create a emotional and inspiring short experience that’s perfect for the internet.
Two friends, packs in hand, emerge at the edge of an uncrossable canyon. From their weathered appearance, you can tell that they have been traveling for a while. The canyon’s edge has the barest features of an uncompleted bridge, perhaps abandoned long ago by the neighboring town due to the complexity of the endeavor. The conflict is clear—will these intrepid adventurers be denied?
The two friends resolve to cross. The secret of the film and what’s interesting about it as a short, is how they co-opt the movie montage—everyone’s favorite sport’s film trope—and make a film that is almost entirely constituted of inspiring imagery. The time dilation keeps the 10min film humming along, and the increasing fantastical methods the duo employ in their bridge’s construction add a brilliant level of wonder to the theme of dogged determination.
Like a training sequence from a Rocky movie, it’s hard not to be swept up in the uplift. The centrality of this sequence to the film is hard to overstate—there is no backstory, the characters never talk, and the tertiary plot points, one involving a young girl who gazes upon their labor from afar, are sketched out in the broadest manner possible. It’s short film as subtraction. You could construct and embellish this missing plot around the central challenge, but what’s the point? It wouldn’t greatly improve the brilliance of the core.
The themes of the film charmingly mirror the production process. Created by a group of animation school grads based in Montreal, the trio eschewed the conventional path of joining large production companies and decided to found a small studio of their own. Lightning Boy Studio was born and this film is the result, a declaration of their skill and talent. It was a great risk, and lacking clients or a track record funding for Le Gouffre would be problematic. The film fortunately benefitted from an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly 500% of their ask. After a successful festival run, the film has struck a chord online, closing in on 500k views in its first week. By trusting in their vision, and betting on themselves, these three young creatives seem to have hit it big. Shorts that hit it this big online always attract producers and financiers, and the team already has a feature film idea they are pitching. Best of luck Lightning Boy Studio!