Like every May long weekend, it’s Quickdraw’s Animation Lockdown, a four-day challenge where local animators spend sleepless nights and caffeinated days trying out new ideas and new techniques. Given how time-consuming animation often is, it’s incredibly important to have a chance to blow off steam and get an idea out of your system—think of Titmouse’s five-second day, and how essential it has become to their culture.
Some of my favourite shorts are exactly that kind of doodle. Patrick McHale’s Fall Guy is a perfect noir pastiche, a silly stream-of-consciousness effort from the Over the Garden Wall animator. Insomnia from Islena Neira is from a five-day challenge, using an improvised piano piece as its inspiration for a bit of inceptioned creativity. But when I think of these sorts of films, the first one that comes to mind is always Les Autres, a collaborative short that came out of the 2014 Lockdown.
Les Autres is a sci-fi collage in every sense of the word. Created from cut-outs assembled into disorienting landscapes and jarringly jam-packed cities, it comes across as a fragment of speculative French fantasy, some strange lovechild of Fantastic Planet and La Jetée. Even the moral, a message of art overcoming all obstacles, feels closer to European utopianism than anything in the current political landscape. Considering it came together in a handful of days, it’s a genre exercise with depth, one that rewards rewatching even just to take in the compositions, and is a perfect example of the kind of creativity that often comes from working within constraints.