Making sure to strike the right tone was paramount for Michael Govier and Will McCormack when they were developing their animated short film, “If Anything Happens I Love You,” which has recently been shortlisted for Best Animated Short Film at this year’s Oscars. Govier explains in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), “We really wanted to find a perfect tone and a perfect balance to show what grief looks like but also to not just sit in it too much. We wanted to show how it also moves and it kind of hits you in waves.” He also cited that they both found that there are quiet moments where grief can be immensely overwhelming. “There’s a huge public grieving but there’s also grieving alone and it showed grief in a fuller spectrum so you could really connect to the characters.”
“If Anything Happens I Love You,” which is currently streaming on Netflix, centers on a husband and wife. While the couple are emotionally distant with each other, we see their shadows acting out all of the inner emotions that they’re not sharing with each other. The emotional chasm that’s opened up between the two stems from the tragic death of their young daughter and the couple attempts to find a way to process the grief that is still very fresh for them.
When it came to help getting the film seen, McCormack got some help from a recent Oscar winner: Laura Dern and her producing partner, Jayme Lemons, both of whom are personal friends of McCormack’s. “Laura and Jayme do a lot of work with Everytown for Gun Safety and they saw an early screening of the animatic and they said that they would do whatever they could to help us get the movie out into the world.” McCormack adds that having the two of them championing the short film proved to be an invaluable resource. “When you’re making a tiny, independent, animated 2-D film talking about grief, it helps to have two powerhouse women producers in your corner and that’s what we had with Jayme and Laura.”
Govier and McCormack are over the moon about appearing on the Oscar shortlist but more for the reason that this film will continue to have a major platform to reach new viewers. “I’m excited to be amongst the company of short film that we’re with but mainly, I’m excited because we get to keep going on this journey and more people will get to experience that film and that’s really important to us,” says McCormack. Govier adds that it’s been surreal to finish the film, then get it into festivals, then to win prizes at several festivals and now to be on this shortlist but, again, always comes back to what he hoped the film would accomplish. “Any of these wonderful achievements just helps people see the film and hopefully it will help, in just a small part, people’s personal grief and what they’re dealing with. If we can help just a little bit, that’s such a blessing.”
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