CG in the short film space feels like it has been getting weirder and more idiosyncratic these last couple of years. As tools have become more accessible to independent creators, individuality and a diversity of styles have flourished. Agent 237 thus feels like a charming throwback to the recent past, when animation schools were routinely graduating tradesfolk prepared to join the ranks at Pixar, Disney, or Dreamworks. It is a slick, action-comedy with a bright and conventional aesthetic that happens to be impeccably executed. If you miss the days when French schools were pumping out charmingly broad slapstick work like Oktapodi several times a year, you’ll get a kick out of this short, 4min piece.
Agent 237 is a product of the Blender Institute. Blender, a free, open source 3D software suite, has been one of the leading causes of the democratization of animation tools, and has developed a fiercely dedicated community around it—over the last several years it has routinely produced memorable crowdsourced short films that show off the product’s capabilities via titles such as Big Buck Bunny, Tears of Steel, and Sintel.
Sintel, from 2010, was one of the most popular films they ever produced, resulting in millions of online views. For Agent 237 Blender brought back that film’s director, Colin Levy, and paired him with Hjalti Hjalmarsson at the helm. Levy, a former Pixar artist, was featured on this site for his college thesis, The Secret Number, and is fresh off a successful crowdfunding campaign for an ambitious new short called Skywatch. Working off a popular Dutch comic books series by Martin Lodewijk, this short sketch of a film is rather thin narratively, but shows off the character in a fun way, establishing a vibe that is halfway between James Bond and TinTin. Knowing that there is extensive source material behind them, Agent 237 purpose is to function as a teaser— for the first time, the Blender Institute is seeking to develop a feature film around this world. They are currently seeking partners for that endeavor now and hopefully this short will entice future collaborators!