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CBTV Student Fest: “The Fisherman”

The sixth film in our Student Animation Festival, The Fisherman, comes to us from Ferg Brennan who produced it at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology in Dublin, Ireland.

The film is an incredible piece of theater, a dark psychological drama with an exquisite monologue performed by Irish actor Diarmuid De Faoite. Brennan’s CG animation fits the narrative perfectly, and his stylized design of the lead character captures the manic despair of the lonely, lower class fisherman. It’s the acting, by both voice actor and animator, that pulls the film together–and (pardon the pun) reels the viewer totally in. The film’s sophistication stands apart with its powerful portrayal of a man facing his own madness.

Brennan (above) provided us with some background on making The Fisherman:

The thing I was most apprehensive about was working with an actor for the first time. The idea of having somebody else reading lines that I had written was intimidating, however Diarmuid made it easy for me by being so gracious and professional. The bulk of the narration is a contiguous section of the first take- he basically nailed it first time which was a huge relief. The recording happened in a makeshift sound booth constructed by some friends of mine, whose band had some audio equipment. I was nervous about the sound quality but they did a great job and we were able to create a professional atmosphere despite the fact that it all took place in a booth covered with duvets in the corner of a living room.

The story is inspired by the Irish myth of “The Salmon of Knowledge”, in which a character gains “all of the world’s knowledge” by eating a special salmon. I liked the idea of taking an idea from an old story with a uniquely Irish identity, but then completely imposing my own artistic sensibilities onto it. It was also important to me that a viewer wouldn’t have to get all the references to find the film engaging, so I tried to emphasize the character and the emotional content.

I’d be interested to hear what people think of the film, and happy to answer any questions.

Filmmaker Websites:
Check out Ferg Brennan’s personal website, his Fisherman’s blog and this link to his other films.

Cartoon Brew’s second annual Student Animation Festival is made possible through the generous support of Titmouse and JibJab.

  • laura venables


  • That was really intense and almost terrifying at one point. Great voice acting, great art direction. I really liked it! :D

  • jerome

    The lighting brings a lot to the gloomy atmosphere of the film… I was wondering if you had some real life reference (footage from abyssal zones) for the light ?

    • I did look at footage from David Attenbourough documentaries, but I relied mainly on the reference images I’d collected like these-http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/largest-cave/peter-photography

  • Lee

    wow, that was a very entertaining piece.

  • Doug

    Truly wonderful work. I love the puppet-like feel to it. Were you trying to make it feel more ‘grounded’ in reality by employing this look to the animation?

    • Yes, I was trying to avoid the “floaty” look you sometimes get in CG by adopting a style a little closer to stop- motion, which often feels more grounded in a real world. I felt like the abrupt, puppet like movements kind of fit the atmosphere of the story better- hopefully its engaging even though its simple.

  • Grandfather Fink

    Its like David Lynch times David Cronenberg times David O’Reilly to the power of Jesus.

    Well done man!

  • A very good animation. That myth is very much an ‘Adam and Eve’ story, isn’t it?

    I loved the compositing, the build up, and especially loved the ending.
    I must say I wasn’t too keen on the fish, as it was referenced as being “beautiful” – which it wasn’t. That thought almost distracted me from concentrating. However, if I’m correct in thinking there’s a metaphor in there, then I understand why it looks the way it does.

    Overall, a very well done animation.

  • Michael Beirne

    Hey Fergal,
    This is honestly one of the best shorts I’ve ever seen, so few shorts succeed in ratcheting up any kind of tension or intense emotion. Seriously class.

  • Shane

    That was fantastic! a good one for the cinema, so atmospheric, voice acting is superb.