It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Masks is a macabre little film inspired by a musical score.

In 2009, Musician Karl von Kries created a seven minute audio score, Animator Patrick Smith drew what he heard. Masked men exploit an edible smaller species as a renegade scientist perfects a cloning process to satisfy demand, but the clones conceal a destructive secret.

A partial human face mask lays in the grass

Even its creator might not know what lies behind the mask.

Here’s a little more about director Patrick Smith:

Patrick Smith has directed six animated short films in the last decade. Currently Smith is a Professor of Animation in the graduate program at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts in Singapore. He’s also a fellow with the New York Foundation of the Arts, and a curator for multiple international film and animation festivals.

And a few more of his thoughts on Masks:

Began as an audio experiment with recording artist Karl von Kries, Masks illustrates modern exploitation, production and consumption in animated terms. The audio in Masks came first, thus all images exist to tell the musical story, instead of the typical method of scoring music after animation has been completed.

But digging a little more shows that Masks also represents the artistic process takes us unexpected places. Originally, Smith intended the film to be an exploration of the metaphor of masks in daily life:

the idea of a mask fascinates me. as does the concept of an anonymous call. a certain type of truth exists when identity is hidden. And it’s surprisingly easy to spot the real thing, the individual who has something to share, a comment about why they or others hide what’s underneath a metaphorical mask.

Only to abandon the concept when musician von Kries presented Smith with an evocative score that told its own story.

Three months ago Masks was nearing completion, and then COMPLETELY TRASHED, we can thank Karl von Kries for this. Karl wrote a piece of music which was compelling enough for me to ditch the “man on the street” interview-based concept in favor of an abstract, bizarre, symbolic story. So over a year of hard work and a ton of money wasted. thanks Karl.

Karl von Kries music style is a bit like The Shins getting beaten up by the Afghan Whigs while Radiohead and Jeff Buckley sulk in the shadows. Our first collaboration was on my first film Drink, and I think the music got more attention than the animation! […] What stands out with Karl is his willingness to experiment and record things that nobody else would, creating atmospheres that match.

You can read more about Patrick Smith’s work at Blend Films. Karl von Kries’ website seems to be broken, so here’s a video of a live performance that I found.


Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?

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Photo by Ricardo Liberato released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and