Heartbreaking, sorrowful tearjerkers don’t always have to be an hour or two.
A tale woven with passion and the right tools is bound to accomplish far more than any kind of feature film could have with dialogue, actors, production design, and cinematography.
In fact, in this recent 12-minute piece by Netflix, If Anything Happens I Love You, silence speaks louder than words and hand-drawn animation matched with a beautifully tragic plot is all it takes to make viewers bawl.
The heart-rending storyline
This monochromatic hand-illustrated animation – is a tale of two parents grieving over the loss of their daughter in a school shooting. Creators Michael Govier and Will McCormack came together to tackle the emotion known as grief – through the medium of a soul-stirring narrative.
While not based on a true story, the title was inspired by the texts received from the students that were sent to their loved ones at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when an actual school shooting occurred in 2018.
The tale starts off with a dining room scene of both father and mother sitting on opposite ends of a long table, eating in silence; leaving only sounds of cutlery being used in the background. The couple’s grief, suffering, and loneliness are depicted clearly through the greys and dulled colour tones, providing volume and depth to the story. The shadows in the scene are the backdrop against which the conflict between them plays out.
It also showcases the lives of the parents after the tragic incident, then, rewinds back to the dreadful day when the two sent their daughter to school. No scenes of the shooting were shown; just the background noise of children’s screams and gunshots.
And then the daughter sends a text to her parents – “If anything happens I love you”.
Diving into its black and white, sketch-style animation
It’s a no-dialogue film which puts animation front and centre, featuring only the watercolour splashes of animation director Youngran Nho and the classical musical stylings of Los Angeles composer Lindsay Marcus to convey the raw, bleak, vulnerable environment and the state of mind of the two parents.
The entire short is in black and white except for the items which belonged to the daughter. For example, the t-shirt from the washing machine, the mark on the wall left by an errant football, and the flag of America on her school wall – serving as a reminder that the only colours in the parents’ lives are the memories of their beloved daughter.
Also, the sketch-like line art style connects film and reality. All the little bits of motion like recollecting the memories of the daughter, walking through their house, and seeing the hand-drawn labour that went into making the characters at the same time, made them feel a lot more tangible even with the use of animation.
Besides containing watercolour on paper that’s been scanned in, to achieve the raw feeling, the backgrounds were mostly large and empty; and almost vacuous, to portray a feeling of emptiness that’s taken over the distraught parents.
Nho also juxtaposed the characters using their “shadows”, these animated, gloomy representatives of their inner dialogues, emotions, and souls; contrasting powerfully with the corporeal world.
Great storytelling brings forward “free” marketing
US Gun policies have always been controversial. To follow up on that matter, producer Laura Dern mentioned that the purpose of this story is to raise awareness about school shootings and gun violence.
Even if one has not actually experienced grief due to a shooting, grief comes in many other forms; making this short film a relatable production that’s been the talk of the town since its release.
just watched "If Anything Happens I Love You" on netflix. its a 12 minute animation video but it made me question and realize a lot things! so if anything were to happen, please know that i love you 🤍
— ًdianne (@intodeej) December 2, 2020
If anything happens i love you on Netflix just TORE my heart. I can’t believe things like this continue to happen, I pray for those parents who don’t get to see their babies again. Please watch it if you haven’t, it’s only 12 minutes
— (っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ Maria ♥ (@Musicalmariaa) December 7, 2020
In fact, it has even caught the attention of one of the most popular social media platforms, TikTok, an app used to make and watch all sorts of short-form videos; from hilarious memes, adorable fluffy creatures to even heartbreaking clips like If Anything Happens I Love You.
As of this writing, the ‘IfAnythingHappensILoveYou” hashtag has 51.2 million views on TikTok. It became so well-known that a new challenge popped up on TikTok, daring users to take it up and see if they’ll actually cry after watching the film. It works this way: TikTokkers film a before and after version of themselves watching the film, showing their reaction without spoiling the story.
And so far, most of the outcomes saw TikTokkers bawling their eyes out, some even before hitting the 12-minute mark. But we saw some valiant efforts too, with users holding in their tears.
This TikTokker, however, is a true softie at heart.
What this means for your brand
Heart-wrenching, touching, and relatable, If Anything Happens I Love You has left an indelible impression in its audience
And as always said, while there are many concepts or approaches to take to reel in your audience, taking the emotional route has its merits. So, regardless your angle – if you’re looking to add a touch of animation; it’s always better to leave it to the hands of a professional.
That’s when we, CraveFX, come swooping in to help channel your thoughts by conceptualising your ideas to an animated work by using motion graphics or any other means!
You know we’re always happy to chat about your animated video production so why not drop us a line here?