“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” is a term usually thrown around like a comfort blanket when a partner has had to take a lengthy trip, or, in the anxiety-inducing stage of a relationship where you hope your phone’s every buzz is a WhatsApp reply from a new squeeze.
For animator Alex Goddard however, the phrase kickstarted the beginnings of a new poem, and it’s opener – “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, the beard grow longer and the odour stronger,” – had been rattling around in his head for some time. “But even by my standards those few lines were a little too short to make an animation out of,” he tells us of the beginnings of his latest, and Vimeo staff picked film, Abscence.
Despite the shortness of this initial poetic musing, “the idea never went away,” Alex tells us. But it wasn’t until a game of table tennis that its development really began when Alex had the light bulb moment of “well ping ponga rhymes with fonder so that could go in… and the rest is history”.
The rest, makes up a very, very funny short where he pieces together a narrative with pretty much everything that rhymes – and half-rhymes, and rhymes by force -– with ‘fonder’ from “favourite songas to blast out when you stand on the roof of your honda” or “absence makes a shorter conga” and “makes you buy an anaconda and ponder ‘why did I buy an anaconda?’” But, even though slightly random in its narrative, Alex’s short has an overall humour that has seen it been it watched thousands of times over due its combination “of melancholy and funny,” as the animator “wanted to make a film that took a phrase that is often written or said to couples in love but instead have it said by a character who is slowly unravelling”.
Alongside his reading of the poem, Alex has illustrated frames relating to both the context of his poem and the overall character he’s invented, one who seems to be slightly love lost and looking for love at the same time. “The moments in the animation just came to me as I drew straight into Photoshop,” he says of this process. “I thought ‘right what’s next?’ and then drew a guy floating naked in a pond.”
But if you watch very carefully there are “little nods to stuff I like or bits of popular culture”, which is usually the case with Alex’s shorts. For instance: “In Absence when the character buys the snake, it’s actually the same supermarket where The Simpsons shop, or at least the same chain.”
In the end, Alex has made an animated short that anyone single, in a relationship or thinking of buying an anaconda can easily relate to, and laugh along with either way too.
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