Directed by Tom C J Brown and set to premiere in competition at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, the film is a queer operatic thriller set to the emotive music of Schubert’s 1823 ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ alongside contemporary music by Casey Spooner, Walt Disco, and the film’s composers Brian McOmber and Judith Berkson.
The new animated short Christopher at Sea, co-produced by Psyop, Temple Carrington & Brown, and Miyu, and directed by Tom C J Brown, has set its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it will compete in the Orizzonti Short Films Competition. The Cinescope formatted, 20-minute 2D animated drama was written by Brown and Laure Desmazières, Additional production support was provided by Crooked City.
The film follows Christopher (James Potter) as he embarks on a transatlantic voyage as a passenger on a cargo ship; a chance encounter with Third Engineer Valentin (Andrew Isar) under moonlight waylays his hopes of finding out what lures so many men to sea and sets him on a journey into solitude, fantasy, and obsession.
“Christopher at Sea is a queer operatic thriller set to the emotive music of Schubert’s 1823 song cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ alongside contemporary music from Casey Spooner, Walt Disco, and the film’s composers Brian McOmber and Judith Berkson,” commented Brown, a British artist and filmmaker primarily known for his short films t.o.m. (2007), teeth (2015), and Cousin John - The Arrival (2020). “20 minutes of sumptuous hand-drawn animation awaits the viewer, the combination of thousands of hours, years of love, and an incredible team of artists and collaborators bringing Christopher to life on open waters.”
He continues, “After embarking on a cross-Atlantic cargo ship voyage, I set out to write a love story, but Christopher’s romance soon became entwined with my own struggle with identity, discovering my truth, a dramatic retelling of the communal showers in a Sundance hostel, and my mother’s nightmares.”
According to Amanda Miller, producer, Psyop, “Tom is a singular film maker. Christopher at Sea is a vision that could have only come from him, and every frame is a piece of art. I am honored to have been part of the team that brought this project to life as part of Psyop’s ongoing investment in creatively led original projects.”
Check out a clip from the film:
Known primarily for their commercial work, Psyop has now released two animated shorts this year as part of their Psyop Originals effort. The first, directed by Marie Hyon and Marco Spier, debuted at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and was selected in competition at Annecy 2022. Bottle Cap follows Sheldon, an insecure fiddler crab, who becomes an unwitting accomplice in the business of extinction as his dreams of being “average” are co-opted by new dreams of power and destiny. The short is now headed to series, with Michael Ryan (Kung Fu Panda, Scooby-Doo) attached as showrunner. Production is scheduled to begin this Fall.
Temple Carrington & Brown is a boutique studio specializing in animation, film, and TV production.
Founded in May 2009, Miyu Productions is an audiovisual production company specializing in animated short films, documentaries, series, and feature films. It started Miyu Distribution in 2017, focusing on international sales and distribution of animated shorts, and Miyu Gallery in 2022, the first art gallery in the world dedicated to the plastic work of animation directors and animation techniques.
The Venice Film Festival runs August 31 – September 10.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.