Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Rory Waudby-Tolley’s trippy, animated doc, Mr. Madila or The Colour Of Nothing.
The Plot: A filmmaker discusses life, spirituality and the universe with a spiritual healer.
The Film: Whenever possible, I try to feature shorts that offer some insight into the world. But right now, the world is a fucking mess. And relief feels like it’s an eon away. It seems only right that we should start examining the very fabric of existence. So, here’s Mr. Madila or The Colour of Nothing.
Why Press Play?
You never know where inspiration will come from. Sometimes you find it in a real life experience. Sometimes it comes from a leaflet handed to you by a stranger on the streets of London. That’s the case with Rory Waudby-Tolley’s Mr. Madila. The leaflet that spawned this innovative little film advertised a ‘spiritual healer.’ One who offered council on topics ranging from black magic and sexual impotency to business transactions and immigration cases. Waudby-Tolley called the number expecting to find a charlatan with devious motives. That’s not what he found.
Mr. Madila opens with the filmmaker’s fateful first call to the ‘healer.’ It served as the first of many conversations between the pair. Right off the bat, you can tell that Mr. Madila is a different sort of character. The sort with very specific views on the universe. Waudby-Tolley would meet with Madila on several occasions thereafter. Their talks would cover everything from spiritual enlightenment to the malleable state of atoms. Waudby-Tolley recorded every meeting. And he crafts a complex dialogue about humanity’s relationship to the universe out of their narrative.
That sounds a bit crazy, I know. In truth, Mr. Madila often is. The bulk of the film stems from Madila’s philosophical ramblings about man’s place in the cosmos. And he’s quite a compelling orator – equal parts con man and savant. Some of his ramblings are quite profound. Others are a bit more trivial. Waudby-Tolley tempers each heady proclamation with his own (often hilarious) reactions.
He amplifies the film’s metaphysical explorations and its sense of humor by animating every moment. Mr. Madila is nothing if not a wild, visual exploration of challenging themes and views. But animation is more than just a clever tool. It lets the filmmaker explore those themes in ways that traditional film would not. A discussion about the fluid state of atoms and reality takes the shape of a lavish head trip. And a quiet moment that explores ‘the colour of the nothing’ is an occasion of true wonder. More often than not, true wonder is just what Waudby-Tolley achieves with Mr. Madila. So press play and start wondering.
Meet The Crew:
Written, Directed & Animated by: Rory Waudby-Tolley Starring: Ken Smart, Gary Pillai & Rory Waudby-Tolley Additional Animators: Eva Wagner, Mauricio Arrietta, Rita Sus, Jiun Huang & Jez Pennington Music by: Paul Devlin Sound by:
I hope you enjoy Mr. Madila! Believe it or not, this was Rory Waudby-Tolley’s graduate film for The Royal College of Art. He’s spent the past year or so racking up awards on the festival circuit. With any luck, all that praise will give Waudby-Tolley a chance to draw on a larger canvas. His mix of edgy style and heady content would be fascinating in the context of an animated series. But we’ll just have to wait and see what his next project will be. Until then, we can always check out Waudby-Tolley’s previous work over at his Vimeo Page. While you’re there, be sure to check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting and you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.