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Animated short film On/Off and Frida Kahlo in Nicolás P. Villarreal's mural in San Francisco

03 December 2021

Villarreal brings Frida to San Francisco via an outdoor mural to explore the 'shapes' of his vision; the image is taken from his award-winning seven-minute 2D animated video highlighting the structure and discipline required to achieve our dreams.

In the 2D animated short movie the famous genius Frida Kahlo, Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, and Ludwig van Beethoven live in our modern-day, working at home on their latest works. In addition to these four well-known talents, the film depicts regular scientists, artists, inventors, and musicians at work around the city.

While working, each character begins to receive alerts on their phones; as they check the notifications, their creativity - symbolized by a green dot above their heads - begins to flicker on and off, from green to red. While artists like Kahlo, Da Vinci, Tesla, and Beethoven can easily turn off their phones and continue working, the majority of the city's creatives have a considerably harder time doing so.

“I like the contrast of seeing the geniuses remain locked in their structure,” says Villarreal, who produced all the art and animation for the film. “And even though everything around them is just flowing this way and that, they're still standing strong because they’re focused on their work. Especially when it comes to something that you love, all the constant notifications from our phones can destroy the magic that comes when you’re painting, or listening to music, or writing.”

But Villarreal is also clear that On/Off isn’t meant to be an anti-technology film.

“At one point in the story, there’s a little girl on the subway using her phone to listen to Beethoven,” he notes. “It’s not about being against technology. It's about how everyone uses it. I hope, after people see this movie, that they realize they shouldn’t sacrifice something that they love for something that’s really not important.”

(interview from Animation World Network website, read the complete article at the link below)

Illustrated entirely in colorful, abstract shapes - including the character design - On/Off has won over 300 international awards; the film was produced at Red Clover Studios, co-founded by Villarreal, where the animator wrote and directed his other award-winning animated short films Pasteurized and Nieta.