It’s a story about a 12 year old boy on the cusp of puberty who breaks into a water park with his friend

Black Slide is a British-Israeli short animated film written and directed by Uri Lotan and co-produced by Manchester-based Flipbook Studio and The Hive Studio in Tel Aviv. It’s a story about a 12 year old boy on the cusp of puberty called Eviah who breaks into a water park with his friend Tsuf to ride the fearsome Black Slide, the most frightening water slide in the world.

The film deals with Eviah’s anxiety’s, fears and his despair, which we soon find out isn’t just because of the daunting prospect of riding the slide, but is largely due to something all the more tragic waiting for him at home.

It’s a beautiful, nuanced, coming-of-age story, a bittersweet film about how time refuses to stand still.

It’s a very personal story for director Lotan as it’s based on his own experiences of losing his mum to cancer when he was 12. It deals with how he learnt of his mother’s passing after spending the day at a waterpark. It was at the waterpark that it dawned on him that his mother wasn’t going to be ok after all.

The Black Slide in the film encapsulates his despair but also the dark journey he has to face to take him from childhood to adulthood.

Flipbook Studio’s involvement started when one of our lead artists, Yuval Turgeman, introduced us to Uri and co-producer Amit. Yuval is from Tel Aviv originally and although now settled in Manchester, had previously worked with Uri and co-producer Amit Gicelter from The Hive Studio in Tel Aviv.

Uri had returned to Israel in 2017 after graduating at Ringling College of Art and Design in the US and after having worked at Disney Animation and Pixar.

He wanted to produce something more personal and wrote the script for Black Slide, before partnering up with Amit and the team at the Hive to put the wheels in motion.

Yuval mentioned that the Hive were looking for a co-production partner, we read the script, looked at some of the initial designs that had been drawn up and decided to commit production resource and to help finance the film.

The film was largely financed by Flipbook Studio and the Hive Studio with some government grant support and a successful kickstarter campaign. Production was split between Tel Aviv and Manchester with several artists based in a variety of other countries contributing too.

The production predominantly involved creating 3D CG assets and animation in Maya. The animation is inspired by a mix of stop-motion animation and children’s book illustrations. The tactile, palpable aesthetic of stop motion, juxtaposed with the naive, childlike charm of the children’s book illustration style, creates a striking contrast.

The visual style feels mature and childish simultaneously, as if seeing the world from the perspective of a child who has a more adult understanding of life — much like our protagonist, Eviah, whose loss forces him to confront his fears and undergo an emotional transformation.

As with most animation pipelines there was an intense round of pre-vis, to the point that compositionally the CG scenes created, pretty much exactly matched the frames from the storyboards. It paid off in the end as when CG production started, we had absolutely everything to hand and nothing was left for further interpretation.

This was important not only because both studios were in different countries but also because it wasn’t just the artists at Flipbook and The Hive that were working on this, we had artists from all over the world too, all of whom needed to slot into the production pipeline.

Our intention at Flipbook has always been to work on internal productions and shorts that we can have a lot of fun making.