The Inspiration Behind a Student 2D Animated Short Film

The Inspiration Behind a Student 2D Animated Short Film

'Gugusse,' a charming 2D animated short, is the product of François Posson's final year at École Pivaut. This lively story channeling classic humour like Tom and Jerry, emphasises the essence of creating a believable and humorous world.

'Gugusse', a delightful 2D animated short film, emerged from a year of dedicated pre-production efforts by François Posson during his final year at École Pivaut in Nantes.

This cheery tale brings Gugusse, a gruff man, face-to-face with an unexpected adversary – a relentless pigeon. Inspired by classics like Tom and Jerry, the short film delivers dialogue-free slapstick humour in a timeless rivalry.

François takes us behind the scenes, from concept to character development, underscoring the importance of creating a believable and humorous world.

Gugusse is a short film I made during my final year studying 2D animation at the École Pivaut in Nantes. It took a year of preparation with a team of  two additional people worked with me on this short film:

  • Original music : Guillaume Hoarau
  • Sound design : Dylan Belliard
  • Realisation : François Posson

Gugusse, a gruff and solitary man, enjoys the stability of his routine. But as he sits in traffic on a highway, little does he know that his day is about to take a peculiar turn. What seems like just another day in the best of all worlds becomes an unexpected adventure when he crosses paths with an unexpected adversary: a relentless pigeon.

Pre-production / Script

When I started writing the screenplay, my primary goal was to make a humorous short film. Much of my time was spent brainstorming with friends, coming up with witty scripts, gags, and slapstick scenarios. My humour revolves around physical gestures, expressions, and character-driven situations.

While the initial concept had its unique elements, a common thread was a character stuck in traffic. At first I got carried away with the writing, paying no attention to the feasibility of the project, writing what made me laugh and evolving the gags with my friends. I collaborated with my friends, evolving gags, and sought feedback from those around me, which I found immensely enjoyable. I then cut out as much of my story as possible to keep only the most important elements and the most effective gags.

"Gugusse" is a French word derived from "Gus", meaning any man. I wanted to create a simple atmosphere, starting with a title using current words. A rudimentary character and a place that's the opposite of simplicity, the traffic jams. And if that wasn’t enough, a pigeon makes its onset, emblematic animal of human annoyance.

My primary goal was to extract humour from the absurdity of a traffic jam. I deliberately used powerlessness as the central source of humour. In such situations, we often find ourselves frustrated because we are powerless to change the circumstances. Traffic jams, in and of themselves, embody a significant form of helplessness, and I aimed to amplify this theme through the characters.

Gustave, with the physique of a lumberjack, accentuates this notion of powerlessness. His inability to overcome a seemingly ordinary pigeon serves to underscore this concept.

This film falls under the 'Chase Cartoon' category, a genre that draws inspiration from classics like Tom and Jerry and Oggy and the Cockroaches. It embraces the tradition of dialogue-free slapstick humour and sticks to a timeless narrative structure centered around the rivalry between two characters. The film shares simple, inoffensive, yet highly effective visual humour to engage the audience.

Pre-production / Design

My goal was to ensure consistency and create a believable and humorous universe. However, due to the solo production, I had to keep the characters simple with easily understandable and animatable volumes.

Pre-production: Storyboard

The rhythm of the short film evolves, guiding the viewer toward its climactic moment. The gags are quick, while the transitions are slow, reminding us that the character is frustrated in traffic.

Gradually, the characters shift in prominence. As the film progresses, the pigeon starts to occupy more space within the frame, eventually appearing more imposing than Gugusse. In the conclusion, Gugusse briefly regains control by holding the pigeon in his hand, only for the pigeons to regain the upper hand through their numerical superiority and elevated position, leaving Gugusse with no chance.

Production: Layout / Backgrounds

Creating a short film set in a single location, such as a car in traffic, prompted me to design a 3D environment and characters with simplified, easily representable volumes. This transition to 3D allowed me to easily establish the layout for my short film, with a primary focus on camera placement and movement.

Colour palette

I selected an end-of-day atmosphere to imply that Gugusse has returned home from work after a long day. Additionally, I chose an orange car to create a vivid contrast with the blue pigeon.

Production / Animation

I kept in mind that this short film was not intended to be a demonstration of 2D animation. Too much animation wouldn't have served the purpose anyway. Gugusse's animation has very little squash and stretch to give the impression that the character is a block stuck in his car. Gugusse's shape changes very little from one frame to the next and he is often seen from the front. The pigeon, on the other hand, is very extensible and has much more freedom of movement. Free to fly, crash and fly away if he wants.

Final Thoughts

This experience has ignited my passion for writing and directing, solidifying my aspiration to become a 2D animator. The opportunity to independently direct a short film from inception to completion may not present itself again, but I believe I maximised every moment, and I anticipate that it will serve me well as I step into the professional world.

This short film has taught me the importance of a comprehensive approach to every creative stage in crafting a believable and humorous world. By aligning all elements, an atmosphere can be constructed that truly immerses the viewer.

You can reach out to François via his Rookies profile here.