Over the last three years or so, we’ve travelled all over the world with David Freid and the MEL films team. From a Swedish Cowboy theme park providing shelter to refugees to a little Irish island with a big Donald Trump problem, this intrepid documentary crew have added a regular touch of humour and warmth to a never-ending feed of depressing news. In their last short under the MEL films banner, Happy Animals, Freid and his crew transport us to Rottnest Island, one of the most remote and isolated places you can journey to on Earth, and introduce us to a bunch of merry marsupials.
Freid talked previously of his desire to make films to overcome his “bad news fatigue” and this looks once again like the prime motivation behind this latest project. An energetic, grin-inducing piece, it’s easy to find yourself lost in the charm of this tale and for a film with a 23-minute duration, it really breezes by.
However, just because this short is fun, doesn’t mean it’s frivolous! As always, director Freid was keen to take this cute story and dig a little deeper into what it tells us about people and society.
“It’s easy to find the humor in a story like this”, he says. “And it’s a lot of fun. But it’s the heart and the humanity that’s always more interesting in the end. We’re all just trying to figure out how to live this funny little life we’ve got. Traveling to the end of the Earth for a selfie with a rodent is as good as any other reason to travel. Maybe in some ways, it’s even better.”
Determined to prove that an Internet audience could handle more than “three-minutes of content at a time”, MEL Films have become a popular documentary destination for the Short of the Week team (and millions of other viewers) over the last few years. With a consistent output throughout (their Vimeo account currently holds 40 films), Freid and his team have picked up a legion of fans and a ton of Staff Picks on Vimeo over this time.
“We were hoping to deliver newsy stories that didn’t feel like homework to watch”, Freid reveals when discussing the birth of MEL fIlms. “We wanted to reach people who weren’t already inclined to watch documentaries, and to offer a different way to get the news. And if not the news, we’d be a different way to learn some crazy shit about happy animals in Australia. MEL Films was an enormous opportunity, and I’m grateful for all of it. But we did the scrappy little startup thing for as long as we could and now, hopefully, it’s time to level-up.”
Though this may be the end for MEL films, we hope to see more from Freid and friends in the near future, but first…a well earned rest!