DreamWorks picks up an Israeli's film

Bilby and a friend

Bilby is a roughly eight-minute film that depicts a cute, furry marsupial called a Bilby who doesn’t give up despite the long odds. Animator and Tel Avivian Liron Topaz was one of the three writers and directors on the film.

“I thought that would be a very admirable characteristic for him and something the audience can relate to or root for,” Topaz said. “Me and my two partners on the film, we were working on a different project for a really long time, a feature film that was canceled, but we were very attached to the project and spent a lot of time on it. In a way, it was a metaphor for us.”

The short was intentionally set in Australia because the film’s creators were looking for the most hostile environment, he said. “Everything is basically out to get you,” Topaz said of Australia.

“It’s a really good contrast to place a really innocent, furry little character that’s super cute [in]to this hostile environment, a character that doesn’t want to give up.”

For now, the short is playing at festival circuits, though the creators would love to see it played before a feature-length DreamWorks film. It’s been screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, held every June in Annecy, France, as well as the Palm Springs International Film Festival where the trio won the audience award.

The film has also been shown in Tel Aviv, which Topaz said was very important to him personally.

“These screenings at festivals have been phenomenal,” Bilby writer and director JP Sans said.

“We worked on this for months and then you kind of put it away in the garage and nobody gets to see it and...we’ve been able to start showing it, which has been received very, very well and has been incredibly humbling and super exciting to see reactions.”Topaz approached Sans and the third co-creator, Pierre Perifel, about two weeks before the DreamWorks deadline for accepting pitches. Two weeks was very little time to get the project together, Sans said.

But they managed to pull it off.

“I actually miss the process,” Sans said. “It was chaotic and crazy and it felt like college – ‘Tomorrow the project’s due and we need to flesh something out’ – it was exactly like that.”

"This Side Up", a previous short animation made by Topaz, dealt in a comical way with the frustrated hopes of an aging music lover.