Short Circuit Experimental Films Season 2 is back! To celebrate, we were able to hear from Kim Hazel (“Dinosaur Barbarian” Director), Riannon Delanoy (“Songs to Sing in the Dark” Director), Ryan Green (“Crosswalk” Director), Liza Rhea (“No. 2 to Kettering” Director), Jacob Frey (“Going Home” Director) and Jennifer Newfield (SHORT CIRCUIT Production Manager). Here’s what they had to say…
Where did the idea for Songs to Sing in the Dark come from?
“My parents are both research scientists and before Short Circuit, even before I was an animator, I spent a lot of time reading and going down information rabbit holes, because that’s what my family does for fun, I guess. As pertains to this short, some animals like bats, they’re very advanced with their use of sound. They use echolocation navigate, but a few animals use sound for even more than that.
Tiger moths can use interference patterns to jam echolocation. Sperm whales can blast sound like a shotgun to stun prey. Dolphins even appear to have a pictographic language where they can send images to one another, and it’s all encoded in sound. What if you took those abilities to their logical extreme? What would happen if you took a group of echolocating animals, and let them evolve for millions of years in this totally dark cave, in this massive evolutionary feedback loop?
Maybe sound could become weapons, and armor, and camouflage, and these big threat displays. Maybe you could reinvent your appearance altogether in that kind of environment and project any image you wanted into the mind of your observer. That blue sky possibility for visuals and sound really appealed to me.” – Riannon Delanoy
What was the inspiration behind Crosswalk?
There’s a light right outside of Disney Animation building, and I think all of us have waited there many times. You can see way down the street in both directions, there’s very little traffic and the light takes forever. I just remember standing there one day just waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I just pictured my ancestors showing up next to me just be like, “Hey, what are you doing? We wanted to make a better life for ourselves, so we got on a boat and crossed the Atlantic. We didn’t wait for a robot to tell us to do it. Why are you just standing here? You can see, you can cross the street.” That just basically became the seed of the idea. – Ryan Green
Did the song, Mirrors, come first or did the animation come first, or was it done in unison?
In this case, the animation came first. I always envisioned it to be like a very somber piano track, and working with Jake Monaco was a super cool experience because he absolutely captured that vibe perfectly in his first version, really and that point it was really just fine tweaking, but we made most of the adjustments in animation, and even the editing, prior before the music systems which– we had to shift the sound a little bit in the music department back and forth to get the beats a little bit better, but he did such a great job of creating this, capturing the vibe of the short film, and I was so excited with the result he did on this. It adds such another level to it, and really draws you into that. – Jacob
How did the concept of color come to be in No. 2 to Kettering?
My idea came to me in the middle of a meeting at work and I was like, “Oh, what an interesting way to,” because I use color as a tool to communicate emotion. I know it’s been used many times, but I think what makes my film unique is what kind of emotion I’m trying to convey and how. I really wanted to think like, “Okay, what if there’s a girl full of vibrant color, and she’s living in a world that’s maybe bogged down with the weight of the world, and she’s just getting a bus. Everyone’s going about their day, but you have a lot going on. She’s all full of energy and bubbles.” That, I wanted to translate using color.
As she interacts with a lot of people on the bus, sometimes that color can be drained, and some times, it can go the other way and she can infuse color into someone else by lifting their energy and joy. That was something that I had to be like, “How do I approach this? As a modeler, how do I go about this?” Thankfully, Jen is amazing and Dale Mayeda, my VFX sup, were able to figure out, actually, this is a really good tool that effects can handle. Figuring out, okay, this is something that they can deal with, we can sort, how many different iterations we can do to see if this works, and they nailed it. It was a really fun journey.
Dinosaur Barbarian working with music as the theme and what that process looked like
That process was incredible. They were so collaborative, so enthusiastic, so much fun. The way our relationship worked creatively was when I had submitted my pitch for Dinosaur Barbarian to the program, I had written, I called it my poem, because I’m not a trained songwriter, but I had the beats that I wanted story-wise to play out. I handed that off to the composers, and they came back with something that just completely blew my mind. Both in terms of the melody, and the adjustments they made to my poem, which made it a bajillion times better.
Honestly, it felt very magical because I gave them word salad in terms of what I was hoping to achieve with the song, and with their first pass, I remember I was sitting and eating a sandwich on the weekend and they emailed me their first pass. My mind, I didn’t even know how to react. I was honestly speechless at how much they had taken everything I wanted and created exactly that in 90 seconds. – Kim
Season 2 of “Short Circuit Experimental Films” launched on August 4, 2021 on Disney+
Short Circuit, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ innovative and experimental short film program where anyone at the Studio can pitch an idea and potentially be selected to create their own short, marks the fifth anniversary of the program’s inception with the debut of five new shorts exclusively on Disney+. This new selection of short films by a group of filmmakers hailing from various departments throughout Disney Animation explores five unique visual and storytelling styles.
Season 2 titles include:
Directed by Kim Hazel
Battling evil is all in a day’s work for Dinosaur Barbarian, but what about taking out the trash? Sometimes even a superhero needs to clean up his act.
Directed by Jacob Frey
A story about growing up and the meaning of home in which a young adult repeatedly visits his hometown, but with every new arrival he starts to face the inevitable: change.
Directed by Ryan Green
A law-abiding citizen must find his inner strength to cross the street at a light that won’t change.
“Songs to Sing in the Dark”
Directed by Riannon Delanoy
Two creatures living in the depths of a dark cave engage in a battle of acoustic one-upmanship. As things escalate, they come to realize that they are stronger together.
“No. 2 to Kettering”
Directed by Liza Rhea
On a dreary, ordinary morning, a girl learns how the power of laughter can lift even the most sullen among her fellow bus riders along their journey to Kettering.
Check Out “Short Circuit Experimental Films” Season 2 Trailer below