Though the title, style and playfully vague synopsis may lead you to assume this is a family-friendly short, prepare for things to get weird and bloody in this absurd fable centred around a lost child and the friendly giant lion looking to help him. Taking elements of classic Children’s literature (I saw echoes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & The Chronicles of Narnia in its story) and remixing them into a spirited 6-minute short, Josh Swallow’s fourth year CalArts film Please showcases some great comic-timing and a flair for storytelling.
Whilst the dark fairytale approach may not exactly be a new angle for the animated short (you only need to be familiar with the twice-featured work of Joe Bichard on S/W to have seen it before), Swallow infuses his film with just the right amount of ingenuity to make it feel fresh but familiar. With a youthful cut-out styled aesthetic reminiscent of illustrator/writer Eric Carle and a narrative readily open to interpretation, it was be easy to write-off Please as nothing more than frivolous fun, but really sink your teeth into this bite-sized short and it feels there’s plenty of meat below the surface.
Please is one of a plethora of shorts from students of the Character Animation Program at CalArts (School of Film/Video) recently released on Vimeo (see all the films here), with my other personal favourites including Alex Avagimian’s S T E P S, Alex Ishida’s Cycle, Aram Sarkisian’s – WINSTON and Xiya Lan’s I think I love you.