Q&A with director Aaron Hughes

What was the inspiration for this?

Years back, I was working for the museum at the Federal Reserve of New York, right in the middle of the financial district. Being surrounded so much by finance really got me thinking a lot about capitalism. At the same time, I was dealing with the stresses of paying back student loans and living in such an expensive city. I wanted to do something from the perspective of a single “consumer.” So I wrote this simple idea and started raiding the recycling at the Fed, taking home as many Financial newspapers as I could to collect for the backdrop.

I saw what you wrote in the Vimeo description for how this got made. Can you describe the process for putting this together?

I drew every single frame of animation on separate pages, amounting to thousands of drawings using ink, white-out, gold leaf, gouache paint, and other materials on market data newspapers as a backdrop which, when played in succession, gives the impression of rain. Then I photographed each page individually, occasionally with some elements on top of the drawings like coins, robotic arms, or text labels which were stop motion animated to be part of the scene. Then I edited it together and designed the sound. It was a real labor of love.

How long did the entire process take?

It had been a side project for several years. But once the pandemic hit, that’s when I really had the time to put into it and get it finished since I didn’t have much else to do.

How did Brian Cox get involved?

I had heard of this app called Cameo where you can pay a celebrity to say happy birthday in a video to your uncle or whatever. I thought it’d be fun and fitting to the theme to use that app to find the voice talent. When I noticed Brian Cox, who plays the Rubert Murdoch-type character on “Succession,” I immediately paid the 400 bucks and sent him a request asking if he’d say a couple of lines for my animated short. I didn’t think he’d do it, but to my surprise, he did, and of course, it sounded perfect in the one take that he sent.  

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