Big, Vice-Versa, Freaky Friday…body swap movies are their own much-loved sub-genre, but I don’t think we’ve yet seen a story where the protagonists physically swap heads (Face/Off doesn’t count, they only swapped faces), until Kop Op (Heads Together) from Job, Joris & Marieke. A 21-minute animation that follows the exploits of three friends who find their heads on different bodies (after an incident with a mystical abandoned washing machine), Heads Together boasts an impressive aesthetic and a surprisingly captivating storyline.
Created by Dutch animation studio Job, Joris & Marieke – named after the trio who created it, who openly describe it as “probably the most uncreative studio name ever” – having followed their work for years now, Heads Together feels like their most ambitious piece to date. The self-taught animators first came to my attention back in 2012 and have since developed a recognisable style through a series of commissioned work, music videos and an Oscar-nominated short. At 21-minutes long, this is a real test (which they obviously passed) of their filmmaking/storytelling powers and a step towards one of their studio goals of making a feature film.
Describing the storyline as being “a lot of fun having characters losing their heads”, co-director Joris Oprins also explains (in this 2019 FMX presentation about Cinema 4D) how he hopes the film will help kids see what it’s like to be “in somebody else’s shoes”. As the co-directors explain in conversation with Short of the week: “The film is about three characters who switch heads, they switch from gender and they switch from ethnicity and they learn about themselves and the other. It is good to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and we hope this film will encourage people to do so more often.”
Inspiration for their short came from an unexpected source however, with the trio explaining (in this interview for the film’s online premiere as a Staff Pick) how the initial idea came from a sinister character in a Tim Burton Movie:
We were inspired by the headless horseman from the movie Sleepy Hollow. It’s a very spooky character in this film, but we thought it would be really funny to make a short film in which the main character would have no head without there being a specific reason for it. Just a headless character amongst normal people
Despite the somewhat haunting inspiration for Heads Together, it’s a family-friendly short with important lessons for the younger viewers and plenty of fun for those young or old. If you’re a fan of the film the good news is that Job, Joris & Marieke are currently working on turning it into a series, which will be 12 x 10-minute episodes, with each one focused on a specific theme. Whether someone will lose their head in every episode is yet to be seen, but knowing the standard of work this studio continuously put out, we can’t wait to see it.