It may be about dandelions. It may only be three minutes long. And it may only have one character. But the animated short “Weeds” is taking film festivals by storm and its tiny star has touched the hearts of audiences around the world.
“Weeds” is the critically acclaimed debut CG animated short by writer / director and former DNEG VFX artist, Kevin Hudson.
So far it’s won eight awards, including Best Animation at the British Animated Film Festival 2018 and Best Animated Short at the Hollywood Film Festival. It was also “highly commended” in the Best Animated Short category at the 2018 Academy Awards.
A story of survival
“Weeds” is an endearing tale about the plight of a dandelion that finds itself growing on the wrong side of a driveway. In order to survive, the unloved plant must literally up-root and travel from its barren patch to a luscious and well-watered area on the opposite side of the drive.
Below the surface, however, “Weeds” is a powerful metaphor about the plight of refugees and immigrants, who risk everything to secure their survival and a better quality of life for their children.
Earlier this month, between festival appearances, Kevin stopped by our London studio to catch up with his former colleagues and share more about his award-winning short.
“I wanted to say something about having more compassion for people in need. My goal was to bring greater empathy for immigrants and refugees,” explains Kevin, who left his own home in California in 2009 and moved to London to join us at DNEG.
Today, Kevin works for Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he has contributed to hits like Big Hero Six and Zootopia.
Animation: The empathy machine
A passionate life-long filmmaker, Kevin believes animation allows storytellers to explore topics that other forms of entertainment shy away from.
He says, “Animation is an extrapolation of real life. I think it’s most powerful when it’s not dealing with people. With “Weeds” there are no people in it, but we identify with the character as a person and by extrapolating and turning this character into a plant, we are able to look at its humanity, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”
“That’s what animation does better than any other medium. It’s an empathy machine; it makes you care about things you never thought you would care about in life, like a little dandelion.”
While working for DNEG, Kevin lived in London, where he worked on blockbusters including John Carter, The Dark Knight Rises and Harry Potter. But in 2013 his dad had a stroke, and Kevin was eager to return to his family in the US. Fortunately, Disney made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he moved back to the U.S.
It was while working for Disney that Kevin and his colleagues produced “Weeds” after hours and in their spare time.
“I had an awesome experience living in London, but one of the challenges of being an immigrant is that your family is still back at home. Although I made “Weeds” at Disney, DNEG is part of its DNA. If DNEG hadn’t brought me over to the UK, I wouldn’t have had the sensitivity to make a short about immigration.”
Find out more about “Weeds” by visiting: https://www.weedsshort.com/