Have Heart is a unique, sweet animation by Scottish animator Will Anderson. Anderson makes a living as a freelance writer, director, and animator on various projects for television and web, and creates his own intependent films in his spare time. Have Heart is Anderson’s fifth animated short film. It has earned his a BAFTA 2018 nomination and an award for the best short film at the British Animation Awards 2018.
The story chronicles the existential crisis of a looping animated GIF, using the GIF as a clever analogy to allude to the experience of being stuck in a rut. A little duck character goes to work everyday to perform a wildly popular looping GIF, to be rewarded with millions of likes of scrolling online fans. In the loop, he repeatedly jumps up and down, falling to pieces as he lands. He puts himself together, and does it all over again. Soon, the actions of his performance become amplified and echoed in his mental state in his daily life as he spirals into a paranoia, feeling like he is being watched, trapped in the rut of his job, sick of performing the same motions day by day.
The duck, his exasperated partner, and disappointed boss are all illustrated by simple shapes, coloured in transparent gradients, that move in smooth mechanical motions. Despite the simplicity, the characters are relatable and alive. The success lies in the timing of movements, the animator’s exquisite mastery of translating a character’s moods and emotions in a few strokes, and in the sensitive sound design of Keith Duncan.
Have Heart appears to be an almost child-like animation, but its inviting friendliness makes palatable a discussion about the experience of dissatisfaction, disassociation, and breakdown that all of us will likely go through at some stage in life. Our duck friend tries to fix his unhappiness by launching into an array of new hobbies, before realising that such a flurry of activity is just another way of avoiding acceptance. Have Heartis a sweet lesson in learning to be kind to yourself, letting people in, and moving on.
Will Anderson shows that, as long as you have a strong concept and emotional connection, there is no need for complexity or hyperrealism in animation to captivate your audience. Find out more about his work here.