Don’t Fear Death
Today is the first day of the end of your life.
A fast-paced comedy arguing the joys of being dead, aided by a montage of corpses and a dance-crazed Grim Reaper. Starring Rik Mayall and associate produced by Ed Bye. Commissioned for Channel 4’s Random Acts.
*Edit June 2014: The sudden and tragic death of Rik Mayall has been a loss for generations of comedy fans and has robbed the world of one it’s most irreplaceable humans. The morbidly ironic fact that this film is now one of his last projects thankfully hasn’t been lost. It’s nice of people to think that this would have been a fitting two-fingers to the world on the way out. From my point of view it’s hard to tell if the humour of the film’s been tainted as Ian and I felt quite close to him. But maybe everyone else can just see his vast body of hilarious work and incredible life for what it is. I just keep hoping that he faked it and has been in on the joke the whole time.
The aim of this film was to twist the connotation of death in an absurdly positive way, while still making a rich, layered film that rewarded multiple viewings. Hopefully we’ve created a 3 minute film that you could happily watch on a loop for 15 minutes.
Starting with Ian’s great script, we weaved in as many jokes, visual gags and plot twists as we could. When Rik Mayall came aboard and added his glorious performance the ambition of all aspects of the production were raised. A lot of attention to detail was spent on the character animation, music and sound design to heighten every laugh and to bolster Rik’s voice at the forefront of the film.
Over 50 characters were created to make the film feel like it was exploring different aspects of a world, rather than just a series of isolated events. Using a brightly lit ‘90s throwback world full of lumpy worn people gave the film a grubby kitsch which felt right for a cast that are being eyed up as potential corpses.
While the film is a series of vignettes with a punchline, the actual plot is non-linear. When put in order it is about a criminally insane butcher who poses as a pilot so he can crash a plane. Although partly told in the real world, most of the scenes occur within the pilot’s imagination. Plane passengers are addressed to as he places them in scenes, and he envisions himself as the Figure of Death. [hr]
Rik Mayall was a British comedy icon and pioneer of the alternative comedy scene. In 2014 he suddenly and tragically did, leaving a legacy that has inspired generations of British comedians. He starred in shows such as The Young Ones, The Comic Strip, Blackadder, and Bottom, and he was the title character of the film Drop Dead Fred. Don’t Fear Death was, in true distasteful form, one of his last projects.
Aired on Channel 4 – Monday 5th August 2013, 11.05pm
Vimeo Staff Pick (2013)
Audience Award – Anibar (2014)
Best Drama/Fictional Programme nominee – RTS Midlands (2013)
British Shorts Film Festival – Berlin, Germany
Krok Animation Festival – Russia
Sao Paulo SFF – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Animasivo – Mexico City, Mexico
Cut Out Festival – Querétaro, Mexico
Interfilm Berlin – Berlin, Germany
Uppsala – Uppsala, Sweden
Int. Short Film Festival of Cyprus – Limassol, Cyprus
Curtocircuito – Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Anim’est – Bucharest, Romania
World Festival of Animated Film – Varna, Bulgaria
3D Wire Animation Festival – Segovia, Spain
Encounters – Bristol, UK
Bornshorts – Bornholm, Denmar
Anibar Int. Animation Festival – Peja, Kosovo
Animation Block Party – Brooklyn, NY, USA
Anima Mundi – Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo, Brazil
Fest Anca – Žilina, Slovakia
Huesca Int. Film Festival – Huesca, Spain
Northwest Animation Festival – Portland, OR, USA
Pictoplasma – Berlin, Germany
Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film – Stuttgart, Germany
Future Film Festival – Bologna, Italy
Flatpack Film Festival – Birmingham, UK
Stoke Your Fires – Stoke, UK
Mecal Festival Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain
London Comedy Film Festival – London, UK
London Short Film Festival – London, UK
Bradford Animation Festival – Bradford, UK
Klik! Amsterdam Animation Festival – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Malta Horror FilmFest – Zabbar, Malta
London Int’l Animation Festival – London, UK
Milano Film Festival – Milan, Italy
Pop-up Brighton – Brighton, UK
Spike & Mike’s, Stan Lee’s ComiKaze – Los Angeles, USA
Spike & Mike’s, New York Comic Con – NY, USA
Bar Shorts / Overground Festival – London, UK
Friars Club Film Festival – New York, USA
Arts & Science Festival – University of Birmingham, UK
The Animation Spot – London, UK
Multivision – St.Petersburg, Russia