The short film is easily dismissed as a small and inconsequential form of cinema. Often seen as nothing more than a staple of struggling film students or as a dry run for bigger and naturally better projects, they are rarely embraced or even seen by mainstream audiences. But the sheer quality of some short films is changing these preconceptions.
One of those films is the latest winner of the Animated Short category at the Oscars. Written and directed by a French team composed of Francois Alaux, Ludovic Houplain and Hervé de Crécy, Logorama is set in a world composed entirely of – you guessed it – logos. For sixteen perfectly formed minutes, we follow a renowned criminal in the shape of Ronald McDonald, evading ‘the law’ before a freak Earthquake rips apart the trademark-covered landscape and floods the city with crude oil.
Hervé de Crécy says that the concept behind Logorama grew out of working on pieces for the likes of Massive Attack and Röyksopp using what he calls ‘the technique of the diversion.’ This is a method in which an existing visual language, in this case that of logotypes, is used to create something entirely different. And the directors have certainly succeeded in doing that.
In the Los Angeles-style city which is the setting for Logorama, Michelin men are cops, Snow Mountains brandish the Evian name and the Aston Martin and Bentley emblems fly side by side. By using over two thousand logos to create the scenery, the directors have created a film in which each frame is visually complex and startlingly familiar. De Crécy believes that the film will be different for each viewer based on the images they are able to recognize and relate to. He calls logotypes ‘a universal cultural inheritance’ and says that making the film was ‘a way…to regain a common patrimony.’
But a film in which skyscrapers in the shape of corporate logos are engulfed by oil is obviously mocking this ‘cultural inheritance.’ And questions about the message behind the piece are bound to be raised. De Crécy is keen to explain that the directors ‘didn’t want to denounce, or point out a message about our society’ and that the film was simultaneously a satire of the modern world and a tribute to the iconic logotypes it has produced.
Despite the somewhat satirical (and unauthorized) use of the symbols of huge companies, de Crécy asserts that the filmmakers have not been on the receiving end of any backlash. In fact, they even received a message of thanks from Cash Converters.
The makers of Logorama may have managed to avoid any negative responses from companies but the brave use of corporate logotypes is one which could only have worked in a short film. It’s easy to predict the reactions which would be elicited from a feature film that used the same techniques. When asked about his opinions on the short film format, De Crécy calls the medium ‘a wonderful place for…powerful ideas.’ With the creation of such impressive examples, one thing is clear; the short is on is the rise.