Oscar- and Emmy-winning filmmaker William Joyce (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, Taking Flight) has graced animation lovers with another visually adventurous and heartfelt short film this year, with Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat — a charmingly surreal ode to love, creativity and cinema history. Today, DNEG has released the film online for the enjoyment of audiences everywhere (and the consideration of awards voters). You can watch it at dneg.com.
Set in the 1920s, the film centers on a visionary inventor whose hat (and dreams) are flattened by his job at the quite literal Hammer to Heads factory. Things take a magical turn and his joie de vivre is rescued in the nick of time by a doting surrealist painter.
“We wanted to imagine that Mr. Spam was a single short film made in 1927 by a pioneering filmmaker who vanished inexplicably,” Joyce explained in a recent interview with Animation Magazine. “During that period, silents were getting more sophisticated with these amazing camera movements … The animators really got into it, because they were asked to make things clunky instead of smooth. We also recreated the three-script Technicolor process, too.”
The director blended these visual inspirations into a very personal story, inspired by his own experience finding love and hope at an unexpected time of life, and after deep loss. “I thought a big chunk of my life was over,” Joyce shared. “I learned that it was silly to think like that. Or maybe I got lucky, I don’t know, but this short is an expression of that.”
Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat is written & directed by Joyce and produced by Howdybot Studios and DNEG Animation. Michelle Smith is producer, David Prescott is executive producer and David Lowry is the Unreal-powered CG short’s animation director.
Read more about the making of Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat in Animation Magazine‘s feature story here.