Oscars 2013: A close-up look at the animated short nominees


Image Credit: National Film & Television School

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Head Over Heels

Most husbands and wives will admit they don’t always see eye-to-eye with their spouse. Married couples can’t always agree which way is up. In the stop-motion film Head Over Heels, that’s literally true: Walter lives on the floor and his wife, Madge, lives on the ceiling – or the other way around, depending of course on whom you ask.

Head Over Heels is the sole student-made film among this year’s 15 shorts contenders. Writer-director Timothy Reckart, an Arizona native, made the film for his masters thesis at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England.

“Every time I showed the film, at least one person came up to me afterward and said, ‘I want to show this to my husband’ or ‘I want to show this to my wife’ because there are days when it feels that way,” Reckart said.

Watch the trailer for the short, which recently won the Best Student Film award at the Annies, below, and watch the full film here.

Reckart’s inspiration for Head Over Heels came from a 1632 painting by Rembrandt called “The Philosopher in Meditation” that appears to depict two mirrored sets of staircases.

“It looks like there’s stairs leading up from the floor but also stairs leading down from the ceiling, and it makes you think there’s someone living on the ceiling and someone living on the floor,” Reckart said.

Those “someones” became Madge and Walter, 11-inch-tall puppets created for the film’s 1/6 scale set. Two model-making students at fellow British school the Arts University Bournemouth made the puppets with foam latex. Production designer Eléonore Cremonse created the set such that all five rooms in Walter and Madge’s house could be deconstructed, flipped over and put back together.

“Our rule of thumb was whichever character had the most complex animation should be the one on the ground because it’s just an added difficulty to animate a character upside down,” Reckart explained, “and if the shot called for the character to be upside down, then we just flipped the camera over.”

Currently based in New York, Reckart’s post-graduation projects have included a short segment using paper cutouts on multi-pane glass for a documentary based on writings by Sigmund Freud. He is also in the early stages of developing projects for TV and feature films.

– Emily Rome

NEXT SHORT: Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”

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