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Work / Animation

Matt Reynolds’ latest animation features ever-growing hot dog hands and grotesque storytelling

“I was flipping through my sketchbook and found these two independent drawings: one of a woman who had tons of fingers, and one of this creepy little guy nibbling fingers inside of a mailbox,” says animator Matt Reynolds about his new creation, Hot Dog Hands. “The rest of the film practically wrote itself.”

Since graduating, Matt has fully developed his own personal style of film making. From sculpture, painting and earlier work inspired by Czech filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer, Matt dabbled in various mediums and styles before approaching cartoonesque animations. Now drawn to the messy, hand-drawn images of cartoon anatomies, his latest piece Hot Dog Hands goes hand in hand with his new-found signature. “I really love painting with gouache at the moment. It’s so satisfying to lay down big blocks of those rich colours. Hand drawing is such a time-suck though, so for commissioned 2D work I usually use Adobe Animate,” explains Matt.

This remarkable fairy tale depicts the traditional plot and character development you would expect — combined with some grotesque twists and obscure creatures. “There’s a trope in animated shorts, and also fairy tales, where an outcast finally finds their niche in the most unexpected of places,” Matt tells It’s Nice That. “Usually, that cathartic moment of discovery and acceptance is a lot less fraught with ickiness than in Hot Dog Hands. I wanted to push that kind of narrative convention to a grotesque extreme and really make the audience squirm. I mean, it hits all the emotional beats that usually add up to a happy ending, but the details of that ending are so viscerally unsettling.”

“I think we can all empathise with Hot Dog Hands and that feeling of having no control of your body. Sometimes bodies have their own agenda and it’s very scary,” says Matt. While watching the animation, there’s no doubt that you will start to feel some form of compassion for the ever-growing hot dog hands of the protagonist. However, the tale subverts all expectations and rivals any outcome of traditional storytelling. 

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Matt Reynolds: Hot Dog Hands [still]

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Matt Reynolds: Hot Dog Hands [still]

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Matt Reynolds: Hot Dog Hands [still]

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Matt Reynolds: Hot Dog Hands [still]