Stop-motion animator Timothy Reckart's 2012 short
|Timothy Reckart, accepting his Annie Award for "Head Over Heels" (Photo source: Animation Magazine)|
An Annie Award winner for Best Student Project (it was made at the National Film and Television School in the U.K.), Reckart's 10-minute film is both a dialogue-less and surprisingly affecting comedy about a strained marriage and a nifty sci-fi short story set in a bizarre and unexplained reality where the laws of physics are different from our world's laws of physics. So because of the reality the short takes place in, the biggest obstacle to communication between middle-aged Walter and his ex-ballet dancer wife Madge isn't the increasingly common problem of smartphone addiction. Instead, it's gravity.
Walter and Madge live in a floating house where Walter's ceiling is Madge's floor and her ceiling is his floor. We don't know what exactly caused their marriage to become strained or why they no longer share the same gravity. All we do know is that it's entertaining to watch them go about their day as if everything's normal in their topsy-turvy world.
Meanwhile, in our topsy-turvy world where special features, which, for a long time, have been the best part of a DVD or Blu-ray, are unfortunately becoming an endangered species because younger viewers prefer to stream movies instead of watching bonus-filled physical copies of them, Reckart's strategy of getting viewers to watch his short online is noteworthy. It's not just because of his wish to keep special features alive by treating viewers to a bunch of fascinating little extras about the making of "Head Over Heels" ("On the one hand, the death of DVD is great, because the physical production of DVDs has been a barrier to entry for short filmmakers like me. On the other hand, what happened to special features?," says Reckart). It's also because one of those bonuses is an audio-only featurette about film scoring--and it's almost three times longer than "Head Over Heels" itself, like how the documentary about the making of Superman Returns is much longer than Superman Returns itself (and a slightly more enjoyable film too, simply because of the moment when Kevin Spacey cracks up the film's crew with his Brando impression while audio of Brando as Jor-El is being played aloud on the set).
Any featurette about the film scoring process is worthwhile to me because I put strictly film and TV score music into rotation on my radio station, and I'm always interested in hearing about how that kind of music gets made. Film and TV scoring is a process not a lot of people understand or are aware of, even after the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, whose main character was a struggling (and way-too-frequently-naked) TV composer, so the audience saw a few scenes of him at work. Featurettes like the scoring discussion Reckart recorded with Jered Sorkin, his short's composer, are invaluable because they get those outsiders to understand the process.
I had only five questions for Reckart--whose prior stop-motion shorts include 2009's "Token Hunchback," a mockumentary about a Hollywood actor born with a hunchback--when I interviewed him over e-mail. That's because in the extras or in other interviews, he goes into so much detail about the animation process and the music that he basically answers all the other questions I had about the making of "Head Over Heels."