Sparse Colors Relay Grief and Loss in Toon Short on Gun Violence

It runs at only 12 minutes, but the animated short “If Anything Happens, I Love You” is a sweeping story of grieving parents after losing their daughter to gun violence.

Devoid of dialogue, the 2D animation relies on a colorless world as a couple argues over dinner. Their shadows are dark and the world is a grim place.

Writers and directors Will McCormack and Michael Govier explain: “We wanted to create an elegy for all the parents and families who lost loved ones to gun violence. These are not numbers, but lives.”

It was up to animation director Youngran Nho to bring that elegy to life. “I was trying to convey the emotions in the script of grief and loneliness, and to also show the great love and hope they manage to find.”

The film stresses its message on gun violence in the simplistic animation, using grays and earth tones throughout. Colors are only introduced to remind the parents of happier times, and the importance of their daughter, whose life was tragically taken.

The artist spent time watching videos of parents who talked about the loss of their children and how they dealt with the emotions for research and inspiration.

Nho’s favorite sequence comes toward the end, where the parents accept the loss of their daughter, capturing the grief, which transcended animation and film.

The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles add a haunting yet angelic sound to the animation, but when it comes its impact is a powerful and striking one as the parents start to face their trauma.

Behind the scenes, the film is supported by a largely female crew including a female animation director (Nho), composer (Lindsay Marcus), production Supervisor (Eliza Govier) and production assistant (Lydia Keating) and executive producers, Laura Dern and her producing partner Jayme Lemons.

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