HANNAH ANASTASI

Sweet Tooth (2017)

"An incomplete drawing's insatiable appetite for colour leads to a vibrant transformation..."

Sweet Tooth is an animated Microfilm, with a runtime of just under 90 seconds. It features a peculiar doodle nicknamed Crescent the Cat, whose first action, upon being drawn to life, is to devour a large jar of multicoloured candy.


Initially planned to take one year, the film wound up taking two years to complete due to a back injury!


Music: "Amazing Plan" by Kevin Macleod

Sound effects: Hannah Anastasi & freesound.org

CREATION

The concept for 'Sweet Tooth' initially came from some doodles of a cat-like creature with a crescent-shaped head that I drew inside one of my old notebooks. In one drawing, I drew the cat juggling coloured balls. Upon rediscovering the drawing a few years later, the oddness of the image stuck with me! So I decided to use that image as a starting point for a hand-drawn animated short.

I wanted to give myself a project that would involve animating an original character, with lots of short scenes and lively movement.

But the main stipulation was that the film must be under 90 seconds long. For someone with little film-making experience --let alone animation experience at the time -- I thought that these guidelines would keep the project manageable.


It would force me to learn where my strengths and weaknesses lie as an Animator, as well as a director.


Because it was important to keep the length of the film under 90 seconds, I selected the music first. Taking inspiration from early Disney shorts that were led heavily by their scores, and Independent films like Micheal Ducok De Wit's "The Monk and the Fish", I came up with a jovial story of a little cat breaking into a glass Jar filled with multicoloured sweets and completed a storyboard that matched the tempo of the song I had chosen.

The scenes remained mostly unchanged from the original storyboards, so I started producing finished background art, using photographs of sweets thrown about on the floor of my garage for reference. What did cause some problems later in on the project was the design of Crescent the Cat.

I got a little ahead of myself. After completing most of the backgrounds, I became so excited about beginning the animation process, that I started drawing the rough drafts using Crescent's incomplete design from the original doodle that inspired me!

Photo of some of the hand-drawn background art for Sweet Tooth.
Photo showing some of the animation sheets from Sweet Tooth

The simple body and featureless face were really just a skeleton, a placeholder body to animate. I intended to re-design the character once most of the rough animation was complete. But during this time, I herniated my upper back whilst attempting to pull open a door that had frozen shut. In the months that followed, I spent most of my time in a lot of pain; drawing became virtually impossible. I was misdiagnosed with elbow injuries and spent the year in and out of physiotherapy and Chiropractor offices, with little success.

Doodle Design Sheets of Crescent the Cat.

I didn't want to abandon the short, but not knowing how long it would take for me to recover, I decided I would have to keep Crescent's design as it was, in a rough pencil form, and try to insert more personality however I could. Thankfully, by the time I had completed most of the animation almost a year later, I finally received a correct diagnosis of my back problem. Within a few months it became a lot easier to manage, and I was able to steadily return to drawing more frequently.


I had always imagined that that the cat would undergo some sort of transformation at the end of the film, after having eaten all of the candy in sight. But I never had a clear idea in mind of how much of a transformation there should be.

Final Design sheet for Crescent the Cat, after his transformation.

Feeling more comfortable to draw again, but having lost the opportunity to redo the entire short, I decided to use the final scene as an opportunity to redesign Crescent entirely, as well as add colour. His final design carries over some elements of the original "skeleton" look, particularly in the eyes and the shape of the head, but with a real mouth, chunky paws and fur. The pattern on Crescent's fur is made up of randomly sized circles, hoops and sickle shapes, which I hoped would look both bold and slightly odd, as if a child had been asked to colour him!


In the end, this light-hearted micro short was supposed to be nothing more than an animation exersise that I hoped would make people smile, but it ended up being a bizarre Pinocchio-esque animation of a scrappy cat doodle finally becoming "a real character" once I had regained my ability to draw. It will always serve as a personal reminder of why pre-planning in Animation is important, and to always ask for help if I need to unstick frozen doors or move heavy objects!