The Passions of an Ordinary Mallard is a 6 minute comedy short about the often fabricated stories we tell ourselves in order to get by. Mallard centers on Gustave, a sentient wooden decoy mallard who spends his days musing upon his made up existence living on a pond as a real duck. Gustave’s imagined pond life is filled with suffering and conflict, though the struggles he has created for himself are preferable to the nothingness of being an inanimate object.

As the film’s director and production designer, I worked carefully to create the rustic, vintage world of Gustave’s 1960’s era country home. I decided to use rich, deep colors and cozy lighting to highlight the thought that the reality of our lives may be more pleasant than we’re sometimes willing to admit. In order to depict the analog world of Gustave’s imagined life, I chose to digitally paint each individual frame in order to evoke the dreamy, nostalgic character of early hand-colored films.

My aim with this film was to explore in lighthearted fashion the relationship between our objective realities and our subjective, often projected images of ourselves. In today’s world of ultra-curated social media feeds and internet celebrity, it becomes easy to dismiss this kind of self-building as phony. I believe though that Gustave’s internal life is more real than his objective life. Kurt Vonnegut has said that “we are who we pretend to be.” This is a declaration that I hold to be central to Gustave’s situation.

The Passions of an Ordinary Mallard  will premiere in 2020.

© Matt Rosenbaum 2020