When the crisp winter morning here in Heber, UT is shattered by the screeching whine of Gulfstreams and Learjets, you know it must be Sundance.
I (Chris) actually love jets. And, living just outside Park City, UT, the annual film festival provides a welcome diversion.
Though I didn’t run into many stars sipping drinks at the Owl Bar this year, it will always be memorable one because by kid brother (16 years younger) had a film in the Animation Short Program: One Rat Short.
As his first animation gig out of school, Ben was determined to mimic the exact details of the scampering creature’s movements.
To get the flick of the tail or the scurry of the hind quarters just right, he would study hours of video showing rats balancing on wires, clawing cage walls and chasing each other in the lab.
Ben would stop me abruptly whenever a rodent would appear whether we were waiting on the subway platform or walking home from a club.
“Did you see that? Did you see how he uses his front paws to pick up that, uh..., whatever that is?” He would say.
With the advent of full-length animation features like Shreck or The Incredibles, it’s easy to overlook the technical and narrative skills needed to make something people will watch or, more importantly, be moved by.
And given that an animator might only finish a few seconds of a character’s scene in a week, doing even something like a 10-minute short can take months or years.
Just before One Rat Short was completed, Ben moved out to LA to join Dreamworks where he has moved on from obsessing about rats to obsessing about pandas.