A SMALL VOICE, 2min, UK, Animation/Drama
Directed by Michelle Brand
A shy young boy is confronted with the relentless demands of an overbearing adult forcing him to sing in front of a crowd. Vivid imagery conveys the child's trauma as it helplessly stands facing the expectant onlookers, unable to sing through fear. Overwhelmed by the ordeal, the only alternative is to run away.
The film 'A Small Voice' is based on a personal experience of the time when I taught children at school. I felt that many children weren't acknowledged and respected by their parents or teachers as to who they truly were and the talents they may hide. Instead, they were only valued through achieved of grades and success. This inspired me to create a film about a very talented child whose talent is misused by his father, who merely uses him as a tool for his own reputation. Instead of focusing on the actual storyline and character of the father, I wished to convey the boy's feelings of fear and loneliness and to create a world in which the audience can share in what he sees and feels.
The emphasis therefore is in the creation of the boy's vivid imagination. Inspired by German expressionists, instead of presenting a realistic situation, I focused on a strong but limited colour palette, contrasting sound effects and representative images. Chattering crows with staring eyes represent the expectant crowd of people around the boy, a barking dog represents the father's anger forcing the boy to sing, the father being represented through blue colours.
The whole world around the child, animation and backgrounds, is created traditionally, with very harsh lines and a limited colour palette of black, yellow and red. These expressive pictures are a strong contrast to the gentle lines of the boy who is created digitally and stands out from the dark world through his bright yellow lines. This creates a dynamic contrast between the two media and the two sides of the story - the aggressive, expectant and fearful world, and the gentle, shy and quiet boy. The sound effects compliment these two poles by contrasting the loudness of the environment and the silence of the boy. The soundtrack adds to the fearful atmosphere through the selection of mainly metallic sounds, giving the world that the child is confronted with, a very cold tone.
When the boy escapes from the horrifying situation, the green, abstract backgrounds give a complementary colour contrast to the previous red world, and express his freedom further.
My aim with this film was to let the spectator join the emotional journey of this helpless boy and empathise with him. The audience is made to feel slightly uncomfortable and unsure of the situation, until the child is alone and safe. Only then, can he find again all that was desecrated, including his beautiful voice.
Mixed piece of traditional and digital animation.