Award-winning animator Rob Martin believes his satirical Hollywood to Huddersfield animated short film is his best work so far.
The seven-minute film – called Cabbage – is a “happy and daft” film for the Covid times we are living in.
It’s about a granny who starts hallucinating during the 48th week of lockdown and strikes up a friendship with an imaginary frog.
In one scene reminiscent of Monty Python the frog swallows a giant butterfly and the butterfly gives out a loud Python-esque scream.
Huddersfield-born Rob, who won two international film awards for Saving Ginger’s Privates in 2003, made Cabbage his pandemic project and is delighted with the result.
“I am really excited by it,” said Rob. “It looks really slick and while it’s an animated film it feels and looks cinematic. It’s made for the big screen.”
What’s also unusual about the film is that it’s not digitally-produced. All the animations are done by hand and there are 24 frames a second.
It’s not a big budget production with a big crew either. It was basically just Rob with a little help from his friends.
A friend in Hollywood, Paul Major Dick Burwell, recorded a voice for the character Napoleon Frog and Rob shot several scenes in and around Huddersfield himself.
These included the murals on hoardings in Leeds Road and the nearby gas holder and a view of the moors around Buckstones.
Scenes were also filmed at the Rex Cinema in Elland which could be among the first to show the film in 2022. There’s also great interest in the film in the United States already.
Rob, 51, of Outlane, also has some great music on the soundtrack with a track called Stagefright (Part 1) by Alexa De Strange and also Love Is sung by Pat Shevlin of Cornish folk band Phat Bollard.
“What’s remarkable is that only three people have been working on this film,” said Rob. “It’s mainly me just using the skills I have learned, Paul Major Dick Burwell who has done the voiceover and Drew Hartley as the producer, who will put it through every film festival possible.
“Usually in Hollywood you’d have a crew of 50 but basically this is just me.”
Rob’s lockdown experiences have also spawned a book of cartoons, Corona Virus Street, which has sold well with Marco Mendoza, of Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy fame, picking up a copy while he was in the UK as part of a world tour.
Sue Bielenberg, a US-based production and character artist who worked on the likes of The Simpsons and Rugrats, is tipping Cabbage for festival acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.
She said: “Every so often, an independent animator surprises and delights the world with a fresh new look and approach to the medium.
“If we needed evidence that our imaginations can save us from isolation and despair, this is certainly a good example.
“Rob Martin’s original and unexpected digital melding of hand-drawn animation with live action feels entirely organic.
“As with his previously published single-panel cartoon books, popular series of ironic cat paintings, and album cover illustrations, Rob uplifts the ordinary in ways that make us realise we are all heroic just for being part of the human experience while suggesting that there is more to this experience than meets the eye.”