The Call of Night – Jonny Knowles – Henrique Costa – UK – Brazil

In this short noir animation, a man in a back alley reflects on smoking and the meaning of life. Then the cigarette burns out.

Jonny Knowles is a filmmaker and actor from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK. As a filmmaker, he is focused on producing high-quality short-form content. As an actor, he has worked mainly for the video games industry and has provided voices for the writer’s guild award-winning “The Forgotten City”, the Kickstarter-backed “Popup Dungeon” and the highly acclaimed “Eastshade”, among many others. Since 2019, Jonny has been producing videopoems in collaboration with Brazilian poet Henrique Costa, including “The Long Burial”, which won an Outstanding Achievement award at the May edition of the Berlin Flash Film Festival”.

Director Statement

Due to a low budget, I had to keep the animation minimal and pick my battles. This resulted in a style closer to a polished animatic or a motion comic and it’s bizarre to me how sometimes I make logistical decisions that upon reflection seem like the most creatively viable option, irrespective of budget.

After finishing this short, I couldn’t imagine it any other way, because it really is a mood piece. It’s a short film that uses smoking as a metaphor to quietly reflect on death and nothing fits this theme and timber better than long takes and stillness.

The whole point is to try and absorb the audience in the atmosphere, because it serves as a pathway to poetry. I have been pushed down this stylistic path by a lack of money, but I’m glad this was the case.

Poet’s Statement

“I wrote ‘The Call of Night’ because I wanted to create a dark, noir monologue around smoking, which was still a pretty widespread habit when I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s. While this particular vice seems to be dying down in the US, many others are springing up to take its place, like the dependence on pharmaceutical mood regulators and antidepressants. I am not sure whether we have been made better off by the change. With smoking, vice was visible and out in the open. With the new, highly addictive substances supplied by the pharmaceutical industry, it has become much more insidious. Because this phenomenon occurs largely out of the sight of the general public, I’m afraid its growth will be much more difficult to contain. So let’s light one up, pour out a few shots of whiskey and talk it over”.

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