Combining surrealism and synth music, Jack and Tom Hudson escaped the monotony of lockdown with their short film Subconscious Drool

The brothers discuss the intricate process behind making the film, the beauty of a self-initiated project and the pros of collaborating with a relative.

24 May 2022


Over the many lockdowns, people sought a creative project to distract themselves from the outside world. Many also spent it on Zoom calls with their family, probably ending up speaking to them much more than they ever would have (willingly) done so. But, perhaps it was only Jack and Tom Hudson who decided to combine the two. Jack, an illustrator and animator, and brother Tom, a sound designer, joined forces to create a short film, as a form of escapism and meditation outside of their almost “groundhog day existence”.

The film is made up of six animated loops – along with some visual interludes – that feature objects twisting, turning, bouncing and leaping around, seamlessly shifting from one frame into another. The first loop, Jack shares, was actually created a number of years ago when he decided to explore something “more surreal”. With the lockdown offering a bit of freedom away from commercial projects, Jack was given the space to explore and further expand this initial loop, allowing his imagination to take the lead. As the animation spanned a fair amount of time, Jack does not specify any “exact inspirations” and instead, each loop has various disparate themes and influences, from “teething pains my son was experiencing at the time, to insects and bugs he was obsessing over, hay fever, or an inspiring family trip to Portmeirion”. But, Jack impresses, much of the process was purely spontaneous: “I’d begin an animated loop without necessarily knowing the final outcome, focussing on cause and effect, like the making of the Rube Goldberg machine.”

After creating each loop, Jack would send them to Tom – a part of the project Tom cites as his particular favourite: “I enjoyed the anticipation of what wonderfully weird things had poured out of Jack’s mind… and what I was going to do sonically that would take it to the next level!” Having Jack’s animation screening as a loop in front of him, he would then rummage through synth sounds, “subconsciously letting simple musical motifs and dreamlike sonic textures unfold”. Tom’s carefully considered sound design, when teamed with the visuals, has an enticingly hypnotic quality, enhancing the motion and movement throughout.

Being related is a fact both Jack and Tom see as having greatly benefitted the creative process. Having been loosely collaborating from a young age – recreating their favourite adverts as kids, playing in a nu metal band as teenagers and now working on personal and commercial projects together – the duo have a pretty solid creative relationship. “As brothers with only a couple of years between us, we share so many of the same creative influences and references,” Tom shares. “Without really realising, we’ve always had a creative playfulness with one another, whether it was creating home movies, animations or art.” Jack adds that the simple fact of being related also brought “a certain level of trust and understanding” to the project, a feature that was important when creating work over such a difficult period. What’s more, Jack finishes poignantly, “It gave us the perfect excuse to keep in touch and keep talking, especially with both of us becoming fathers since beginning the work.”

Having caught the bug for self-initiated projects, Jack is currently exploring the possibility of combining and experimenting with live action footage with animation. Tom, on the other hand, is working on some ambient, soundscape tracks set to accompany three short films intended to sooth and inspire people in care homes living with dementia, as well as some of his own “super wonky lo-fi solo tracks”.


Jack Hudson: Subconscious Drool (Copyright © Jack Hudson 2022)

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Jack Hudson: Subconscious Drool (Copyright © Jack Hudson 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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