It took a village to get this indie short film into the animated short Oscar race.
The animation newcomer Matthew Cherry (executive producer of “BlacKkKlansman”) took part in the Best Animated Short Oscar race with “Hair Love”, in which he welcomed the bond between black father and daughter for the first time. “I was intrigued by the trend of black dads hairdressing their daughter’s hair on YouTube videos that went viral,” he said. “I wanted to (reverse) these negative prejudices of fathers who are not involved in their children’s lives and to represent this established, modern family that currently exists.”
The short film from indie production, distributed by Sony Pictures Animation, was launched in 2017 as a Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to strong support from the black industry, it was the most funded short film campaign in Kickstarter’s history at just under $ 300,000. Cherry formed a director’s team with animators Everett Downing Jr. (“Up”, “WALL · E”) and Bruce Smith (creators of “The Proud Family”) and received early support from Karen Rupert Toliver during their transition from Blue Sky to Sony (where she is currently Vice President of Creative). She founded herself as a producer of “Hair Love” and ensured that the short film was shown in the cinema before “Angry Birds 2” in order to qualify for the Oscar exam.
Oscar winner Peter Ramsey (Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”) and Pixar animator Frank Abney (“Toy Story 4”) also provided valuable support as executive producers. The hand-drawn short film has since been animated in 6 Point Harness in Glendale (the adult swim series “Lazor Wulf”). “When we made the Kickstarter, we thought about doing CG,” said Cherry. “After a little research, however, we thought 2D would be a better mood, especially when it comes to the graphic life of hair. It has its own personality. Bruce Smith brought a lot of his charm and skill with him. Regarding animated short films, I have never seen an upright black family in this medium. I really wanted to flaunt the family dynamics, and the 2D helped to become more nostalgic. And I loved the contrast between the characters and the painterly backgrounds. “
Sony Pictures animation
Cherry knew from the start that they needed an element to justify that it was animated, so they got into the fun hair battle and played with the father’s fear of his daughter’s hair. “It was also important that the mother hid in public as a blogger,” he said. “This is a young girl who is very proud of her hair and has seen her mother become a natural hair personality on the Internet.”
Cherry emphasized the importance of expressing the joy of natural looking hair. He pointed to the recent controversy with actress Gabrielle Union (one of the short film’s associate producers), who said that her hairstyles were “too black” before a series of other conflicts displaced her as a judge for “America’s Got Talent” makes “Hair Love” even more topical. “Any other presenter who has different hairstyles at a weekly show won’t take a second look,” added Cherry. “But if we do it with our hair, it becomes this big problem. Or children are criticized for wearing their natural hair for certain events and are thrown out of school or unable to take their school pictures.
“Hair Love doesn’t seem to deal with social issues, but it is,” Cherry continued. “It’s about normalizing black hair. We have a moving history, but we really tried to be very strategic to make sure the father had natural hair and showed our diversity to normalize that. That would be before the greatest thing I would have liked from this project: young girls who wear their natural hair and see themselves as beautiful. ”