"In an abandoned mansion, a couple of amphibians explore their surroundings."
Frogs and toads abound in Garden Party, a remarkable short film produced by six talented French artists during their studies at MOPA. With reminiscences from the artists’ previous work, the film uses animals as narrative devices for exploring a scene, creating a puzzle that hooks the viewer with a slowly unfolding story.
A suburban staging is employed, populated by assorted frogs, toads, insects, etc. It is in this regard a crowd-based short, with just a few defined characters that help guide and progress the story. Impressive work has been dedicated to creating the external and internal environments. The quality of CG work in Garden Party is outstanding, including attention to materials, photorealism, lighting and physics simulations (the authors mention their intention to imitate the visuals from related documentaries). Aesthetics and composition are a pleasure to watch.
Due to the exploratory nature of the script, much of the film uses a descriptive camera, with a strategy that progresses from the particular to the general (close-ups to wider shots), slowly revealing the scenes. This includes frequent use of foreground and background elements as well as shifts in focus for revealing effects. Visual rhythm is handled mostly through editing and motion within the frame (or changes in lighting). A few effective camera moves are employed.
What makes Garden Party work so well? The unfolding surprises of the background story help create suspense, hooking the viewer and slowly changing the tone and theme of the film to a genre movie. They also create a contrast with the animal kingdom, which is completely oblivious to it, and continues on its own parallel narrative lines (the authors have stated that this contrast was indeed intentional, and that it was used to balance the amount of comedy in the film with the more dramatic elements). An emphasis on irreverent humor and creativity adds a lot of spice to the short, making it appealing to a wider audience.