There are many, many independently produced animated shorts available to watch on the internet, and one that was recently brought to the attention of Animated Views is Like and Follow, a two-minute film which serves as a playful and satirical commentary on the impact social media is having on modern society. The short was produced by two people from different parts of the world: German director Tobias Schlage, and Brent Forrest in Japan. You can check it out for yourself in the player above.

Forrest recently shared some details with us about Like and Follow’s production.

“Tobi and I met in 2017 at an animation studio in Tokyo,” Forrest said. “We’re both compulsive filmmakers and we’d both just finished making our own animated shorts. We started talking about doing a film together, and Tobi showed me these storyboards he did with a six foot phone walking around with a boy on a leash like a dog. I really loved that concept so we decided to run with it.”

Over the course of the short’s story, the boy is initially unable to keeps his attention on anything other than his “master” phone. However, much to the phone’s horror, the joys of the real world keep serving as a distraction, until finally it becomes too much for the boy to resist and he eventually puts his phone away and plays with some children his own age.

“Early versions played up on the ‘dog walking’ aspect, and the boy had this whole part with a girl near the end,” Forrest said. “But we stripped it away to keep the running time short. It was important to keep things economical because we had no budget, and animation is hard. We incorporated the idea of walking through fog–that way most scenes are in a misty field and that reduced the number of sets to build.”

Though it lasts only for two minutes, the short took an entire year to complete.

“That’s a strict after hours effort split up between Tobi and myself. We boarded it, timed it out–built our sets and rigs. The Phone is an original creation, but the boy is based on the ‘Kylie’ rig from Josh Sobel which we heavily modified both inside and out. Animation was split up between us, with Tobi handling the acting shots and me doing the technical ones–we directed each other.”

Of course, for independent filmmakers, getting their work seen is a huge job in itself. “In total we played at 160 festivals and garnered 30 film awards. The main ones were Siggraph, Giffoni and Annecy.  The Annecy screening opened up a lot of doors – and when we were selected for the ‘Best of Annecy Kids’ catalogue that got us into talks with some industry people and distributors.”

Overall, the film has gotten an upbeat reception where it has been screened–even to the point where people have been wanting more. “The popularity of the phone character surprised us and we found ourselves being asked about our plans for a series/feature. To say that Tobi and I have our hands full is an understatement, but luckily we’re both equal measures of organized, focused and insane. We also have three new ‘Phoney shorts’ in production and a second short film about a samurai in the works.”


Our thanks to Brent Forrest for his contributions to this piece.