Radioactive bugs and the beautiful bayou in Ryan Gillis’ mysterious short film “Palm Rot”

Inspired by Florida, palm trees and a mysterious yellow crate, Ryan Gillis releases the short film that’s made a big splash on the awards circuit.

Fresh from a high-profile festival tour in early 2015, Palm Rot by Ryan Gillis is a peculiar animated short.

Created as his thesis film at the University of Southern California, Gillis’ eight-minute animation has a strong visual style and a compelling narrative that feels as original as it is immersive.

There’s a real cinematic feel to Palm Rot: inspired by Gillis’ home-state of Florida, it has a particular aesthetic Gillis describes as  “Florida’s hot, trashy beauty”. Gillis says that the inspiration for the story of Palm Rot came from a yellow crate filled with jars, all covered in Japanese lettering he found while cleaning his house (“the jars were used to take flies into space”).

The bayou comes alive in this dark and twisted tale of a crop-duster named Bill who discovers a lone crate that survived a boat wreckage. Curiosity gets the better of him and he pulls the crate onto his airboat, unleashing a strange radioactive insect.

Jagged edges, thin lines, stiff character animations and the antique colouring recall the look and style of action comics.

Gillis is currently storyboarding on a new Disney TV Animation called Pickle and Peanut.