HOBO, 3min., USA
Directed by Tianai Zhang
As the commuting rabbit hurried past, it accidentally knocked over the sign of a homeless walrus by the street. The walrus wanted to confront the rabbit about the incident, but the rabbit seemed to be facing a bigger crisis of its own...
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. **What motivated you to make this film?**
Since the shutdown in 2019, many of my creative inspirations have stemmed from the pandemic and its impact on people's lives. The idea for HOBO also came from this source. More specifically, this film was inspired by a real-life moment in New York City about a year ago: a homeless man shouted at me, "Why are you wearing such nice boots and can't spare me 5 bucks?" But I didn't stop to tell him that I got these boots for $20 on eBay. Even after a long time, at different moments, I would occasionally involuntarily recall the homeless man's words, each time evoking complex emotions in me. Over time, these complex feelings evolved into such a small story.
2. **From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?**
I started in September 2022 and completed it in April 2023. Since this animation was also my thesis film, there was a clear deadline.
3. **How would you describe your film in two words?**
4. **What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?**
The biggest challenge was, of course, time and manpower. Less than a year's time to independently complete an entire animated short film can be quite stressful. Additionally, I used the puppet tool in After Effects for the final cleanup (animation production is divided into rough animation, keyframes, inbetweening, and cleanup). Although I had used the puppet tool many times before for small projects, it was my first time using it for a 3-minute animation. When I reached about one-third of the way, my laptop's memory was full, and it couldn't handle all the layers at once. This meant I couldn't preview my animation in real-time. So, I had to render it immediately after completing it to see the effect. Fortunately, my initial rough animation work was meticulous, so even without real-time previews, most of the final results didn't require significant adjustments.
5. **What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?**
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the audience completely understood and appreciated every aspect of my film that I had carefully designed, especially the emotional depth I wanted to convey. As a creator, seeing the precise reception of the message I intended to convey in my work is incredibly gratifying and an honor! Thanks to the feedback provided by the Toronto COMEDY Film Festival, it means a lot to me!
6. **When did you realize that you wanted to make films?**
It was in my senior year when every animation student had to create a thesis film. So, I chose the story that had been brewing in my mind for a long time as the theme for my thesis.
7. **What film have you seen the most in your life?**
Frozen. It combines several of my favorite elements: music, animation, and princesses.