“Sausage” (dir. Robert Grieves, 2014, 6:16)
Last week, The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences revealed the 10 animated short films from which this year’s final slate of Oscar nominees will be culled. British animator Robert Grieves’ “Sausage” didn’t make that cut, though it was on the “long list” of 58 films—which is an impressive achievement, given that “Sausage” is Grieves’ first real effort to make a film for himself, after years of successful commercial work. The very idea of creating something personal and heartfelt is at the core of “Sausage,” which is about two local food vendors who have to scramble when they start to lose their customers to a state-of-the-art, super-cheap, processed hot dog and donut truck. As the rivalry intensifies, the cartoon speeds up, like a classic Looney Tune.
In an interview with the Directors Notes blog, Grieves said he was inspired to make “Sausage” when he turned 30, and realized that, “My showreel didn’t have enough heart and chutzpah.” Grieves says, “I started a film as a platform to build a visual language that was more my own, as well as to have a chance to develop the skills to work with narrative films, namely storytelling and character animation. … The big difference was that I was the client for my own film. The brief, feedback, deadline, all my own. … I knew the end would come when I was happy with it, and that was a pure gut feeling.” The result is a short that’s a riot of retro design, in service of a story imbued with personal feeling—leading to an inevitable but satisfying end.
Previous “Short Cuts” columns can be found here.