A baby dinosaur which fell from the sky has left a trail of destruction in the Melbourne CBD.
Well, not quite.
However, in his one and a half minute animation Bless You, Melbourne film editor and animator Philip Watts does a pretty good job of making it seem that way.
Having spent most of his career editing television shows like Wentworth and City Homicide, Watts recently decided he needed another creative outlet to tide him over between projects.
He transitioned from live-action material back to his childhood hobby of using a Super 8 camera and plasticine blobs to create make images. With the help of slightly more advanced technology, Watts created the explosion-laden Bless You, borne out of his love for the 1933 version of King Kong.
“When I was a teenager I projected King Kong onto my bedroom walls at night and watched it over and over again. I wanted to create a similar monster rampaging through Melbourne,” Watts says. “Plus, it’s a bit of a boy thing to throw in all the explosions.”
The paradoxically cute monster behind all the destruction was loosely based on a kitten Watts was taking care of for a friend.
“My wife and I were kitten-minding and he would run around terrorizing everything he could and then would have a little time-out moment where he would sit in the corner panting,” Watts laughs. “I think that action rubbed off on the dinosaur.”
Created using aerial photos Watts took from the Eureka tower combined with layers of hand-drawn animation, Bless You made a splash overseas when it won Best Animated Short at the Portland Film festival – the US city otherwise known as the cool capital of the world.
Watts and his wife nearly didn’t attend the festival because of the short notice and the cost of flights. But when Watts noticed that his film was scheduled to open the festival, they made the clever last-minute decision to fly over with a week to spare. Lucky they did.
“It was the first time I’d seen it in front of a large audience,” Watts recalls. “Just to get the buzz from the crowd gives you such a good feeling. Someone even cheered at the end of it. It’s quite validating.”
Bless You is Watts’ third animated short, the common thread among his projects being a focus on cute animals with a healthy dose of dark humour. He has his next short already in the works, a film titled “Bear Interrupted” with a plot he describes as being “not quite out of a kids story book.”
As to whether other Australian cities will face the wrath of Watts’ little green monster, the filmmaker is not ruling anything out.
“That would be fun…if someone wanted me to destroy Sydney, we could get something started,” he laughs.
Prepare to defend your homes, Sydney-siders.