J.J.: Sure, anything for my favorite customer. Leslie: I bet you say that to all the girls. J.J.: Oh no, no. Actually you are my favorite. You’ve spent over a thousand dollars last year on waffles alone.
By now you’ve seen the Oscar-nominated animated short “Paperman” and felt your feelings over it. It’s really good. No one could possibly deny that. But!: Allow me to present the above, a piece you’re not likely to see in front of a feature-length Disney film that also happens to be in contention for Best Animated Short Film this year. It’s directed by Tim Reckart, whose name I really hope you and the rest of the world’ll come to know soon. If you don’t want to read more words and just want to get watching, it’s called Head Over Heels, consider grabbing a tissue, and go ahead and click play/stop reading now.
I met Tim when I was about thirteen years old. We went to nerd camp together for a summer and took the same playwriting class. It was a weird moment in my life - I’d resolved at age eleven that writing and “making movies” (at the time that was about as much specificity as I could give the job I wanted) was all I was going to do once I was done with school…so it’d been about two years of being told I was being unrealistic or strange before Tim showed up.
By now the ten-second stop-motion clips we cobbled together during those weeks at camp - using what I thought was an unbeatable 4-megapixel camera and a character we made out of pipe cleaners called “Ice Gorilla” - are all gone, lost in a dead hard drive or memory card somewhere. But I remember feeling so grateful and happy to have found someone who didn’t think my plans for life were stupid.
After the program ended we went our separate ways, resolving to share our work online despite having no resources to do so (Youtube being nonexistent and the max. mail attachment size c.2003 clocking in at ~2MB). I don’t remember if we made good on that promise for long, if at all. The only reason I can recall any the above is because a month ago, in the midst of moving to a new apartment, I found a journal in an almost decade-old box I’d left in storage (aka my uncle’s garage). Among its otherwise illegible pages was a goodbye note from Tim, describing most of what I’ve just told you.
“Twenty minutes ago we finished ICE GORILLA EPISODE II - THE POKERGAME which is the best stop motion I’ve ever done. We should get together in the future and do another. Maybe in grad school at UCLA,” the note says. “It’s sad that we won’t see each other for a while. I’ll be on AIM sometimes.”
Neither of us ended up in California, but both of us are still making movies. From Ice Gorilla to an Oscar nom, here’s to sticking it out, Tim (and anyone out there in the business of making things). I’m not going to be mad if Paperman nabs the award (losing against Disney is hardly the roughest position to be in), but I can’t tell you how happy I’ll be if Head Over Heels wins because holy wow do you deserve it.