Steve Baker’s The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray Aged 33 & 3/4 will screen at this year’s SXSW South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas (full list of all animated shorts in the SXSW competition). The animated short is a poignant take on loneliness, thematically reminiscent of Spike Jonze’s Her.
The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray is a mixed media film, but unlike Get a Horse!, which mixes 2D and 3D animation, it mixes animation, live action, and still photography—like Michel Gondry’s documentary Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?
Meet Desmondo Ray
The film itself pretends to be the dating tape of the awkward Desmondo Ray, who introduces himself to the audience and confesses he is lonely “with love to offer.” Australian filmmaker Steve Baker used an epistolary approach for the film, which he continued even off the screen. For example, here is how his Vimeo profile introduces the film: “I met a very interesting fellow recently. His name is Desmondo Ray, and this is his video dating tape.”
On YouTube, the profile Desmondo Ray uploaded the film, who casually wrote in the description:
hello.. my name is desmondo ray.. hi.
you can.. um.. also find me on the twitter thing @DesmondoRay
thank you to mr steve baker of www.taxifilm.tv for helping me make my video.. ok bye.
Thus Steve Baker took the epistolary element of the film even beyond the film screen, in a way like Charlie Kaufman, who credited his imaginary character from Adaptation as a co-writer of the script. In the case of Adaptation, the approach blurs the line between the real and the film character Charlie Kaufman, while in Desmondo Ray’s case it adds an interesting element of realism by detaching Steve Baker’s role as the director of the film. Notice that the writing style in the YouTube account is consistent with Desmondo Ray’s awkward personality in the film.
Desmondo Ray’s outcast personality is depicted through his peculiar talking with emphasis on every word, his disproportionate overweight body, and his interests, which include peeing in the rain.
The live-action sequences in the film show Desmondo’s father, who at least in appearance doesn’t seem to share Desmondo’s physical features. But the two share their loneliness.
This is not Steve Baker’s first mixed media film. His 2007 short Imaginary Life also mixed animation, live action, and photography, and won Tropfest—the largest festival for short films. Stay tuned on twitter for more animation films from filmslie.com.