Frame Grabs &Independent Animation 31 Oct 2011 06:59 am

The Hill Farm – 1

- The Hill Farm is one of my favorite films. It was a school project for Mark Baker who burst on the animation scene with this first film. It ended up being the first of three Oscar nominations he’d receive. His second (The Village) and third (Jolly Roger) shorts were also nominated.

He has since formed his own commercial animation studio with Neville Astley, and they were ultimately joined by Phil Davies to form Astley, Baker, Davies. They are jointly responsible for three television series: Peppa Pig, The Big Knights and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.

The story of The Hill Farm takes place over three days and shows how the same landscape affects three different sets of people: farmers, campers and hunters. The graphics are beautifully designed and are obviously inspired by a period of Paul Klee’s art. Julian Nott’s score this film, and for all of Baker’s shorts, is just excellent; it couldn’t be better.

The DVD for The Hill Farm can be bought from AWN; it’s packaged with “Gopher Broke” and Plympton’s “Fan and the Flower”.

Here are frame grabs from the first half of the film.

The Farmers:

The film shows a remarkable sense of professionalism
and knowledge given that it was a student film.
Time was taken to develop each character in the film.
The animals also take on a character.
Mom wakes up Junior – or is it a farm hand?
Junior seems to have some recurring relationship with the bear
who has threatened to eat the sheep.
The pig has his character . . .
. . . while the funny and cute chickens are obviously meant for killing.
This gives meaning to all the animals on the farm – as is natural.
And they are the prime concern of the farmer.
We are reminded that there are also animals in the wild
other than the threatening bear.

Here is a contrasty version on YouTube with some distortion in parts. Part1, Part 2

4 Responses to “The Hill Farm – 1”

  1. on 31 Oct 2011 at 7:18 am 1.Stephen Macquignon said …

    The texture in the film grabs are just wonderful to look at

  2. on 31 Oct 2011 at 9:50 am 2.Paul Spector said …

    Beautiful to look at. Junior/Farmhand seems to have a bit of Holden Caulfield in him, which makes it all the better (for me). Thanks!

  3. on 31 Oct 2011 at 2:19 pm 3.Ray Kosarin said …

    Films (animated, live, whatever) don’t get much better than this.

    Baker’s pitch-perfect design and animation is astonishingly mature and wise. He knows his characters: he understands both older and younger generations and brings out their predicament with the most delicate humor that comes only from great insight and empathy.

    Even the sound design (that much-abused term is in this case valid) is unique, masterful, most especially for a student work, and a perfect match for the comedy, pathos, and gentle caricature. It’s the right size for a film in which everything is exactly the right size.

    I wish someone would give Baker a grant to take some months off and be a student again. His commercial work is still very good: funny and smarter than most. But the depth of HILL FARM is in a class by itself.

  4. on 02 Nov 2011 at 3:35 pm 4.Jonathan said …

    One of my favorite animated shorts ever! I finally tracked it down on a UK compilation disc a couple of years ago.

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