The majestic Nullarbor is the star of an Australian animated comedy that’s winning plaudits at home and overseas.
When a young hoon needs to bum a cigarette from a laid-back, laconic old bloke out on the plain, both men’s egos balloon a simple request into the ridiculous.
The recent Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards bestowed Nullarbor with the Best Short Animation prize.
The film also won Best Animated Short at the Melbourne International and Sydney Film Festivals.
By using a dialogue-free script, and showcasing the landmarks of the outback drive, Nullarbor won fans from the top circles of animation at the Annecy Animation Festival in France.
Pat Sarell was the writer, animation director and co-director for the film. He said he was humbled by the reception the distinctly Australian flick received in France.
“I was standing next to this 60-something-year-old guy who’s towering above everyone,” Sarell said.
“He asked me what I was there for.
“I explained that I made Nullarbor.
“He said: “I saw your film! It was great!”, and showered me with these lovely compliments.”
The man Sarell was chatting to had been the Head of Lighting at Pixar for the past 22 years.
Nullarbor was created by the Lampshade collective, which hand-picked a wide range of Australian artists, many of whom had worked on enormous projects including Harry Potter and Avatar.
‘We were very lucky to have an incredible map painter named Dudley Birch who went from our project onto Avatar,” Sarell said.
“He had four to five months to work on Nullarbor.
“We were really blessed to have the right people come along at the right time.”
The team drew reference from an enormous number of photographs of the plain, including backpacker tourist snaps.
Whether ancient cliffs or an expanse of mottled clouds, the film captures the grandeur of the landscape which makes the squabbles of its lead characters seem insignificant.
Sarell said the film revealed something of the Australian psyche.
‘They’re dickheads, but they’re plucky dickheads,’ Sarell quipped about his characters.
Nullarbor will be available for download on iTunes, and screen at The Best of Flickerfest at Luna Palace Cinema from March 1.