‘Macropolis’ Director Joel Simon Used His Own Disability For Inspiration: TheWrap’s ShortList Quickie

One of the delightful short’s protagonists shares something in common with the director

When you watch Joel Simon’s animated short “Macropolis,” you can’t help but smile. Maybe that’s because of the beautiful message of friendship, the adorable characters, or maybe it’s because one of the protagonists shares something in common with the delightful animator.

“The dog with the prosthetic leg, that’s me,” Simon told TheWrap. The short film follows two disabled toys making their way from the factory trash bin to the toy shop.

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Simon, who is originally from Belgium and has been an animator for the past 17 years,  represented his own disability in the film with a toy dog whose leg doesn’t quite reach the ground. Simon, founder and of Flickerpix, has had his work broadcast on BBC One, CBBC, Channel 4, History and Discover Channels and Sesame Street.

“Macropolis” is being distributed by ShortsHD, the company that annually brings programs of the Oscar-nominated short films to theaters around the country.

Simon took on “Macropolis” in 2012 after he was commissioned for the project by the London Cultural Olympiad.

“They wanted a story that incorporated the theme of disabilities,” said Simon.

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While stop-motion animation is a challenging art form, Simon added the additional pressure of filming his short outdoors, despite his disability.

“Physically it was challenging,” said Simon. “Usually we’d be filming in a controlled environment, but I was very interested in taking the team out to the streets.”

What resulted is a visually stunning look with animated characters moving at 24 frames-per-second and the “real world” zooming around them in rapid motion. Clouds skid across the sky as people and cars dart about the cartoon heroes.

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“Lighting was nearly impossible,” Simon laughed. “But there had to be an element of chaos to make it work.”

“Macropolis” has been screened in over 100 international film festivals and won 10 awards to date including honors at the Focus Film Festival, Cine-Jeune and the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

“It’s taken on a life of it’s own,” said Simon. “It’s much better traveled than I am.”

To wit, Simon is currently developing an animated children’s series for the BBC