little freakBirthdays are normally a time of joy and a celebration of the extra year you've just spent in the world. Not so for the star of Edwin Schaap's animated short Little Freak -- who despite the skilful nature of his hands in the craft of carving has been condemned to live life as an object of horror and disgust as a side-show freak. Watch his eloquent plea for recognition after the break.

Created as his graduation film at HKU, University of the Arts Utrecht, Schaap conceived the Little Freak narrative as a story which would satisfy the goals set out within his thesis How to Move to Move Us and therefore provoke an emotional response from its audience, driven by the nuanced performance of his animated character.

Opting for an economy of long takes over the smallest amount of shots, the storyboard was pared back to just 12 shots. Using live action performance footage of himself as a reference, Schaap rough blocked out the action to test character timing and camera placement/movement, refining and then moving into the detailed animation phase. You can get a feel for the production progress in this making-of video:

As with all good storytelling set beyond the realm of everyday experience, Schaap presents a narrative, which, on its surface, seems far removed from our lives, but on closer inspection speaks to universal truths -- in this case the sometimes cloying nature of parental expectations and the inevitable need for children to buck away from them and forge their own paths.

Did watching the plight of Little Freak's plea falling on deaf ears strike an emotional chord with you? Let us know in the comments.