Animation Sums Up The Insecurities Of The Human Race Using Only 90 Seconds And A Chicken Wracked with self-doubt, and worried about the luke-warm reaction from others, Max Halley’s all too relatable video, Like Me, nearly never made it into the public sphere. Ironic given that the subject of his endearing, witty and poignantly human short film, begins with the phrase, “Don’t live for other people’s approval”. Yet, Max’s uncertainty makes the content of the video all-the-more moving. The bright yellow of the background, the lovable chicken and the humorous way the story is presented to us, serves to lighten up an altogether more solemn expose: our great hamartia as humans – our need to feel accepted. Graphic design artist, Max, believes that our obsession with seeking the approval of others is to fill a void when we become lost ourselves. When a, “pat on the back”, is no longer enough, we crave more – like a drug – which, is in fact much more similar to the truth than it seems. When we receive validation from others, it lights up the same pleasure centers in our brain as a drug would do – we become addicted to it. Digestible, delightful and strung together by the quirky voice of Maria Krichner, a long-time friend of Max’s, the video is a lesson, yet also a brief moment of escape, for all of us. It allows us to hear a truth about ourselves yet laugh at it, it allows us to face the reality of our species and yet view it as entertainment – though Max would humbly argue, it is just a video about a chicken. We spoke to the Irish, American and Beatles obsessive about the creative process behind his video and why he feels we are so fixated on outside approval. The Plus: What inspired you to create the video, Like Me? Max Halley: I just like the character and felt the world could use another chicken animation. TP: Whose voice, and whose story, can be heard in the video? MH: The voice of the chicken belongs to Maria Kirchner. Maria is an Austrian girl I met in Ireland around seven years ago. She knows what she wants and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She’s funny, articulate, honest and has a frenetic, jerky energy that may or may not remind you of a chicken. TP: The background to all your videos are always yellow – why? And why yellow? MH: I don’t really know. It’s a warm and reassuring colour and maybe that helps me when I’m stuck staring at a computer screen twelve hours a day. TP: Talk us through the creative process for Like Me. MH: I thought it would be funny and possibly a little profound to watch a chicken discussing serious issues. One day I recorded Maria answering several questions from a random pop psychology book and edited out the best bits…one of which was ‘Like Me’. My initial plan was to make a short film. I storyboarded about seven different recordings which I thought would work well together and made an animatic for a short entitled ‘Chicken Soup’. I tried and failed to get funding so I decided to focus on animating one when I had free time. I ended up picking ‘Like Me’ because I thought other people would relate to it. It was all done in Adobe After Effects in about fifteen days over a four month period. By the time I was finished, I hated it and thought everyone would feel the same so didn’t put it up until a friend told me to just get it out there. TP: Why do you think we all are so obsessed with getting the approval of others? MH: I think most people would like to think of themselves as decent people, living a somewhat meaningful life. Sometimes they get themselves a little lost, and the approval of others helps them feel like they’re back on the right track, doing the right thing. A simple pat on the back for a job well done is one of life’s great pleasures. The obsession for approval is different and I think it begins to pervade the mind when a pat on the back has no positive effect at all. Not only do you still feel lost, but now you’re feeling numb and a little empty. You attempt to fill this ever growing invisible void with more and more approval, but eventually realise that you were swimming upstream all along and the key was to start knowing and approving of yourself. TP: What’s next for you? MH: I’ve been working in Giant Ant in Vancouver for the last three months and after the initial feelings of complete inadequacy, I’ve slowly begun to enjoy it. I have several shorts that need finishing and hopefully at some point I’ll start working on another chicken animation.