Fresh from a Bafta nomination and winning best short at the British Animation Awards, animator Will Anderson spoke about his much-lauded film Have Heart. In a captivatingly simple aesthetic, the animation tells the story of a weary animated gif stuck in a loop on the internet, on the cusp of an existential crisis.
First off, Will reminisced about how the project began as an attempt to make more of his wasted time commuting. Speaking to a designer at work who said that over his career had probably “spent a year of his life on a bus,” but “spent it wisely learning software,” Will said he panicked and “started throwing together shapes”. Hence Duck, the star of Have Heart, was born.
“I like making characters out of simple shapes and geometry and getting them to tell a story that’s a bit more complex. Making a drama out of it interests me, I guess,” he explained.
When Duck, the main character, came to life in gif form, Will said his story arc began to develop. “I found myself feeling sorry for the guy. It’s pathetic, trying to fly and making a terrible job of it, but not giving up.” The animator was also inspired by the colour restrictions on gifs: “There’s a maximum amount of colours you can have, which a great limitation, and you can sort them by hue and popularity – which made me think about some colours being more popular than other colours.”
Will also considered the identity of a gif as a metaphor for us all. “If he’s trapped online, we’re all a bit like that – sorry to judge you guys. There’s a constant clamouring for attention online, a constant stream of new content it’s overwhelming. So I thought I’d tell a story about what it feels like to be alive online through this character.”
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