First Job

"Sweeping chimneys."

This remarkable short by Masa Avramovic was produced at French school La Poudrière and features external and internal conflicts, a strong paradox (a chimney sweep who doesn’t want to get dirty) and a focus on using characters’ point of views to create comedic effects.

Staged in an urban location, seemingly some decades in the past, most of the film takes place over a rooftop and inside a house. Two main characters are employed, complemented by a number of anonymous characters (chimney sweeps). Playful non-realistic staging is used to increase conflict, giving special behavior to the smoke that comes out of the owner’s pipe, which adds pressure to the chimney sweep to do his job. Combined with sound, this adds some video game-like qualities to the film.

A stylized aesthetic is used, which fits well with the cutout paper technique. The locations are described with broad strokes. A desaturated color palette helps transmit the impression of dirtiness. Sensory images play a significant role, with an abundance of smoke, scrubbing, getting fingers and skin dirty, coughing, etc.

It’s also worth noting the use of editing and screen directions to connect the actions of the two main characters, and how their different POVs, oblivious to each others’ situation, help create surprise and comedy.

What makes it work so well? The wonderful aesthetic work, the sweep character’s strongly dislike for getting dirty and how he expresses it, which will appeal to a wide audience, and the playful non-realistic staging coupled with surprise, misunderstandings and humor.

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