Michelle Brand
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A Small Voice

DURATION 00:02:00
MEDIUM Digital and Traditional Animation (Watercolour Pencils)
PRODUCTION University for the Creative Arts, 2016

SYNOPSIS 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.

FESTIVALS Athens Animfest, Animation Day Cannes, Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, Toronto Sci-Fi Festival, Minikino FilmWeek, Under 5min Film and Writing Festival, Festival de Cortometrajes Jose Francisco Rosado Pacas

Film Statement

Film Statement

The film focuses on the boy’s feelings of fear and loneliness and the creation of a world in which the audience can share what the boy sees and feels, mirroring the boy’s vivid imagination. I therefore enjoyed concentrating not so much on the storyline, but on attaining an empathetic and fearful mood and atmosphere through visual language.

Visual Design

Visual Design

Inspired by German Expressionists, instead of presenting a realistic situation, I focused on a strong but limited colour palette with complementary colour contrasts. These are the first concept drawings, although the character design changed later on.

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Background Design

Background Design

The whole world around the child, animation and backgrounds, is created traditionally with watercolour pencils, with harsh lines and a limited colour palette. The boiling backgrounds express the fearful mood of the boy, and the dark backgrounds turn into a brighter green when the boy runs away from the ordeal.

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Colour Palette

Colour Palette

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.

Character Design

Character Design

The initial character design was simple and geometrised, but it did not work with the focus on mood and atmosphere –the character’s design was so limited, it could barely offer the audience to feel empathy. I needed to go back to studying children’s faces and then simplifying them.

 

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 My aim was to let the spectator join the emotional journey of this helpless boy. 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.

My aim was to let the spectator join the emotional journey of this helpless boy. 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.

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Audience Feedback

I was lucky enough to receive an audience feedback from the 'Under 5min Film and Writing Festival', which was really moving.