Coming in with a runtime of four minutes, Hendrikus De Vaan’s short film Disappear is a delightful treat. Unlike other films reviewed on this site, Disappear is an animated short, and unlike most animated shorts today, Disappear is stop motion. What results from this, is a short film with aesthetic appeal and a technical brilliance that is as fascinating as any strong narrative short.
"A man must choose to step out of his social and corporate paradigms, to pursue a dream he has kept locked away in his wardrobe for far too long."
Disappear, is a drama that does not disappoint, directed and written by one man Hendrikus De Vaan, Disappear is a short film that takes cues from great classics such as The Illusionist, Caroline, and Wallace and Gromit. Disappear is complete with an aspiring message that emphasizes following one's dreams, and pursuing one's passion. Overall, this results in a short that can compete with its live action counterparts.
What is particularly fascinating about Disappear, is its cinematography. Despite its animation method, features camera pans and movements that are often reserved for live action films. Additionally the use of black and white is heavily contrasting and complete with the use of shadows and light.
"I've always made stuff, including little short films. I love problem solving and figuring things out, creating new ways to do things, new techniques etc. Stop motion was a very natural progression for my skill set. I'd done about a dozen live action short films before this one, of very different calibers, but this is my first "professional" level film."
- Hendrikus De Vaan
The animation in this short is flawless, and consistent enough to not distract audiences and engage viewers. The emotions the lead character showcases is convincing and interesting enough to intrigue the viewer. Disappear, will leave you wanting more and satisfied for having watched.
Disappear, is the one to watch on Vimeo. For fans of animation and of single character pieces, Disappear is a short that hits both marks with a convincing dramatic build up and even more dramatic narrative builds up.
Check out some Behind the Scenes:
INTERVIEW with Hendrikus De Vaan (Director/Writer)
What inspired this short?
It's interesting, actually, because how the film was made, is also what it is about. I was struggling to make ends meet, and had a lot of work to do that really didn't interest me. I was thinking about how I just wanted to disappear into my own little world and focus on making art. So I wrote this script out of frustration, never even planning to do anything with it. Then I thought, I should make this thing. I'd originally thought about doing it in live action, but the scale of the production was way out of my reach if I wanted to do it justice. So, having had a lot of interest in stopmotion, I I decided on that medium, not realizing it was going to be a 2 & 1/2 year journey.
Any interesting production stories?
There are a lot. Here's one that hasn't been told yet: I remember finishing the very first shot of the film, it was a 40 second mammoth. I had done two takes on it, because the first take was really bad. This was after already spending over a year in preproduction building the set etc. Anyway, I finished the shot and I was so fucking depressed. The animation didn't look anywhere near as good as what my friends working for the big companies were doing, and I suddenly freaked out, thinking I was in way over my head. So I contacted my mentor, Misha Klein, and talked to him about it. He said to me that he really liked it not despite of it's imperfections, but because of them. He said it had a really nice textural aspect to it. It got me back on track, remembering that I still had a solid year of animation left at this point. I owe a lot to Misha.
What is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
I haven't made a film yet since releasing this one. I have a few things in the pipeline, both animation and live action. I think the biggest thing I have learned from this project is to slow down. No film is quick or easy to make, so putting in the extra time before even starting preproduction on a project is totally worth it. I'm looking at doing a stopmotion feature film, which is a 4-8 year commitment. It's important that the script is perfect, you can't change your mind half way through.
Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
Several. I have a live action comedy film, called "Moving Life", that we want to shoot in the US. I'm working on so many things at once right now, feature film ideas mostly. The main goal right now is to set up a stop motion animation studio. I haven't decided yet 100% where in the world I'll do that, possibly Europe or New Zealand. I'd love to move to the US and set up shop there, but greencards are pretty hard to come by.
Any advice to filmmakers?
Everyone is saying "just get out there and make a film! Shoot it on you iphone!", but honestly - fuck that. I know this has worked for some people, and there are some great stories being told cheaply (some of my favorite films were micro-budget), but film making takes so much energy that I think it's worth doing it right. Besides, there are 50,000+ films being submitted to 5000+ festivals every year, you really have to know your one is gonna be special. Mostly I think people don't spend enough time on story development. Films usually fail because of a bad story, above anything else. This is why Pixar takes years to do their scripts, because they only want to make great films. Don't make a film for the sake of making a film, do it because it consumes you and you have to make that film.