Films : Dad’s Dead : background material


initial synopsis

Through a series of ghostly reminisces a young man tries to piece together fragmented moments from his past. These memories are triggered by his admiration for his best friend Johnno. However, as the story unfolds, this hero worship is turned to revulsion as we pay witness to the web of deception and violence that Johnno creates, dragging both the narrator and audience in its destructive wake.

initial artist statement

Dad’s Dead will be a film that both repels and fascinates.

Essentially, this is a timeless story exploring the power relationship between the two boys.

Although Johnno is bullying and brutish the narrator is blindly compelled to follow. The audience shares the Narrator’s captivation and discomfort through the use of subjective camera.

Research has shown that our trust in people can be influenced by the degree of symmetry about their faces. Deformed photographic images of Johnno are used to give us an insight into his true psyche.

Powerful visual imagery combined with Narration by Ian Hart, whose gritty and powerful delivery binds the film together.

The film is aimed at an adult audience, provoking reflection on the current media obsession with teenage violence. Recent events, such as the murders of Damilola Taylor and Jamie Bulger have stirred emotions of collective guilt in the general public. People become fascinated voyeurs, powerless to intervene.

Manipulated live action mutates and combines with ghostly animation, the more distorted and neurotic the Narrator’s memories become. This creates a juxtaposition of normality and abstraction, by pulling the live footage away from reality.

Past photographic imagery will be mixed with the present; visions of inner city estate dereliction will flash against animated reconstructions of the same location in its heyday.

This will be achieved via photography and digital treatment. All the footage will be shot on Betacam SP / DV then treated using After Effects & Aura on the PC.

Ian Hart will deliver the script in authentic style, with a Liverpool accent. Hart’s screen appearances include Backbeat and Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom.

Specific attention will be paid to making the music fit into the period, to strengthen the power of the flashbacks. Barry Adamson will compose the music. The sound will be manipulated to meld with the visuals by Tim Barker to create a claustrophobic soundscape.

The locations will be real – abandoned council flats, derelict schools, and ‘sink’ estates in the centre of Liverpool.

related websites

Dad's Dead website

the official film website

production material

production notes

Filmed in various locations in Liverpool: Cornith Tower, Everton (old man’s flat), Letterstone Close, Everton (Johnno’s estate), Stanley Park, Anfield (The Park).

reference images

pre-production concept still
Early experiment with image layering and treatments, included in submission to animate!
Early experiment with image layering and treatments, included in submission to animate!


post-production voice script
All character voices and some screenplay extracts, without timecode, in RTF format


A collection of press reviews dated August 2003, plus Televisual magazine ‘Storyboard’ feature in January 2003, all in one PDF file

screening history


Best Short Film, British Animation Awards, London 2004
Best Film at the Cutting Edge, British Animation Awards, London 2004
Best Short Film, British Independent Film Awards, London 2003
Nominated for Best Animation Short, BAFTA Film Awards, London 2004
Quantel Animation Award, Rushes Soho Shorts Festival, London 2003
Metropolis Prize, L’Isola Del Cinema Festival, Rome 2003
Grand Prize, Cabbagetown Annual Film & Video Festival, Toronto 2003
Encouragement Award, Fantoche International Animation Festival, Switzerland 2003
Special Video Award, Split International Festival of New Film, Croatia 2003
Best Independent Animation Award, FAN International Animation Festival, Norwich 2003
Best Animation Award, Kino International Film Festival, Manchester 2003
Best Professional Film Award, Bradford International Animation Festival, 2003
Special Prize, DaKino Film Festival, Romania 2003
3rd Prize, Animadrid, International Animation Festival, Spain 2003
Honourable Mention (Editing), Carolina Film and Video Festival, USA 2004
Best Film of March, Pitcher and Piano Awards, London 2004
Honourable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA 2004
Honourable Mention, Bermuda International Film Festival, USA 2004
Silver Remi Award, Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, USA 2004
Honourable Mention For Visual Style, Los Angeles International Film Festival, USA 2004
Diploma for Best Experimental Film, Balkaname 2004

first public screening

Channel 4 Television
19 December 2002