The Sundance Diaries: The Short Before The Sundance Short

Jan 17, 2012 | Updated Mar 18, 2012

This is one in a series of posts for HuffPost Culture's "The Sundance Diaries," a month-long multimedia diary kept by the international filmmakers whose 64 short films were selected for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.


Before I could make "Dr Breakfast", the short that got into Sundance, I had to figure out how to still find time for personal work in a world where bills gotta get paid.

After graduating from NYU in 2008, I was lucky enough to get a story internship at Blue Sky Studios, working on "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." Through school I put tons of effort into making my own projects, but now all my energy was being put into keeping this job. I worked really hard and pitched tons of dumb jokes that wiser storyboard artists probably wouldn't have pitched. My life became lots of drawing that squirrel guy trying to get the acorn. You know, Scrat.

Everything was pretty awesome when they hired me after the internship, 2 months later. And the great thing about this job was that I am still constantly drawing and learning, even after three years. And I work with some of the most talented artists you'll ever meet.

I started hankering to do my own projects again. But finding that balance between work and personal work proved tough. I started to make "Dr Breakfast" a couple times, but it never worked. I would get overwhelmed by how much there was to do. And what was I trying to say? And what is the point, if I already had a job?

I needed a different project. I needed to make a tiny short just to get in the habit of making shorts again. I needed to make a stupid little cartoon.

That's how I started "Let's Make Out." (Video below)

I wrote and recorded the song on my laptop, with my girlfriend singing backup. I tried to keep everything simple--just a cycle of animation, animated every day at lunch. No story or plot. It could be funny, but didn't need to be constantly funny. The most important thing was getting it done. (Sketches below.)



Six weeks later, I felt refreshed. I remembered that making personal shorts isn't necessarily work--it's fun, damnit. I know "Dr Breakfast" would never be in Sundance if I hadn't made this cartoon first.

WATCH a preview for Neary's Sundance entrant, "Dr. Breakfast":

Read Stephen Neary's previous entry, "Dr. Breakfast."