More often than not, the animated world of short filmmaking is saturated with heavily sentimental themes. Those ‘feel good’ shorts can sometimes be a bit off-putting to the entire animation camp. But sometimes, filmmakers hit the sweet spot of making a film that audiences feel genuinely happy from watching in a non-manipulated way. Filmmaker, Natalie Labarre, has captured that in her short, PAPA.
PAPA is about an eccentric inventor who realizes he’s not a perfect father and therefore tries to invent one. As much as the film is about the relationship between parent and child, it’s also equally about trial and error. Labarre’s film captures the trickiness of parenting and the messiness of childhood. The lesson being that mistakes can happen, but it’s how we deal with those challenges that help us grow together.
Labarre’s characters are so relatable that it’s hard not to make a connection with them. Trust me, you’ll be tempted to share this short with your parents or children. It’s no surprise that PAPA has wracked up over 136K views. Between the hand-drawn style of the animation and the sound design, the film is surprisingly expressive despite having no dialogue.
It’s also no wonder that Labarre dug into her own personal experience, considering how sincere her characters come off. Labarre tells us about her inspiration: “I wanted to make a film that helped explain the complicated but super close relationship I have with my dad and the compromises we learned to make for each other, especially since at the time he didn’t respect animation and wished I were a painter instead.”
Labarre humorously confided to Short of the Week that her father still doesn’t like the film.
For all of those animators looking to make their own short films, Labarre has documented her 2D character development found here. One method worth noting was that she recorded video references of herself doing most of the action, especially for facial expressions. The characters in this short have very expressive eyes, which made them that much more readable on-screen.
PAPA was acquired by MoMA’s department of education for the Museum’s ongoing film series for families with children ages 4 to 10, which is designed to introduce young children and adults to the varied world of film. Other Notable Screenings include Clermont-Ferrand and TIFF Kids.
Labarre is currently a working 2D artist and has considered turning PAPA into a children’s book.