Taylor Meacham’s love letter to his father tells how life’s greatest magic is inspiring someone else to follow their dreams, even if you haven’t achieved your own.
DreamWorks Animation has just shared with AWN the trailer for their latest animated short film, Taylor Meacham’s To: Gerard. The latest entry in the DreamWorks Shorts program launched in November 2017, To: Gerard is a love letter from Meacham (making his directorial debut) to his father - one that unifies his love for animation and the art of illusion. The film was original set to premiere this past April at the Tribeca Film Festival, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the film, we meet Gerard, who despite working in a post office his entire life, dreams of one day finding his audience as a famous magician, just like his childhood hero. With effortless dexterity that accompanies mastery, this delightfully overgrown kid practices magic every day with a special coin…a gift from The Great Vivonti.
When an inquisitive young girl named Jules wanders upon his practiced routine, she’s dazzled by his talents. With the help of his cherished coin, Gerard charms his first-ever audience member with an impromptu magic show. In this moment, two artists—separated by decades—unknowingly set off a chain reaction that will change both of their lives forever.
Meacham first pitched To: Gerard to four-time Annie Award winner Nico Marlet, who quickly came aboard as his character designer. A week after meeting, Marlet had taken their discussion about Gerard’s soul and given him a distinct physicality. The designer’s ideas for Jules’ charming look and impish personality were just what Meacham imagined.
Fellow DreamWorks Shorts’ alum Pierre Perifel (Bilby) soon joined the fledgling production as head of character animation. Production designer Raymond Zibach came on board as well. He quickly embraced Meacham’s ideas for location design; art-deco infuses the film - from the metal inlays in Gerard’s postal floor to the design of the tubes that carry mail throughout the room. Even the conveyor belts that slip into the walls, from a top-down view, are arranged in an art-deco pattern.
Meacham asked the animators to duplicate Gerard’s “magic” to make it look as if a real person is performing. From shooting reference of the director demonstrating Vivonti’s illusion to studying online videos, the team spent considerable effort making the illusion as magical as possible.
Composer Layla Minoui came to the Shorts Program through Universal Music’s parallel initiative for composers. Meacham and Hermann found a playfulness to her music in conveying magic’s mystery, whimsy and wonder…as well as the bold, bassy performance of stepping out of shadow and into the light.
To: Gerard is produced by Jeff Hermann, who most recently produced the animated shorts Bird Karma, Bilby and Marooned. He is currently serving as a producer on the studio’s The Boss Baby 2.
Source: DreamWorks Animation
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.