Sebastian’s Voodoo

Today we have our third guest post by Eric Jacobson in which he discusses a short film entitled, Sebastian’s Voodoo.

First of all, since this is my first article (of many) on this lovely site: Hiya! My goal is to bring to light the most doable film medium, short film. In this Youtube culture, anyone can grab their cell phone and go out to make amazing works of art. As a film student (Bachelor of Philosophy and Communications at the University of Windsor) this opens up a wonderful way of building portfolios, and getting instant feedback on your work. Alright! Enough of this intro, let’s get into our first short together!

Sebastian’s Voodoo

I decided to kick this off with, what is in my opinion, one of the best shorts I’ve stumbled across. Please take a few minutes to watch it, as I don’t want to give anything away in my following review.

This film was done on a $2,000 budget as a second year project at the UCLA Animation Workshop, created by director Joaquin Baldwin. The year Sebastian’s Voodoo was release, he was nominated for an Annie Award, competing with 4 other shorts from Pixar, Disney, Plympton and Aardman. For an indie film student, that shows the caliber of the work.

The film revolves around a voodoo doll, who frees itself from the grasp of its murderous creator, upon the encouragement of his peers.

The concept of altruistic sacrifice is the most prevalent theme in this work. How can the freed doll save their friend from being killed? It has to work with the tools that he/she has access to.

As I’m sure you’ve watched the film, I’m going to stop going over plot and jump to why I think this film was so well done.


Right out of the gate, we see that this is a beautifully done film. Computer animation is such a fickle tool in my opinion; it has to be incredibly well done or it will look dated. Baldwin accomplished that by having such smooth texturization, making the images look almost real.

The colour pallet, having such a lovely contrast between muted, dark colours, giving a creepy feel, and saturated colours, drawing your eyes to specific parts of the screen. The murderer’s eyes? SO well done. As a viewer, you feel the desperation of the situation because of the colours used.

“Camera” motion was smooth and non-invasive, which is different in comparison to other work trying to build tension. As a film maker, I’m so tired of Blair Witch camera work. You don’t need to shake a camera to make a views feel stress.

The sound design, being reactionary with its effects, was also cleanly executed. The samples used sounded real, and not quickly designed, or cheaply made. Due to the lack of dialogue, the film was viewable by whoever had access to it, which is such a neat concept in my opinion. Silent films are so hard to execute well due to the inability to get a message across vocally. The end message in this film was so strong, I have no problem admitting that I cried during my first viewing… So what? Don’t hate.

So, what can we learn from this?

First off, don’t feel pressured to try computer animation if you aren’t capable of it. The beauty of this film is in its incredible story line. Even though there was no dialogue, if you have a great concept, you can get strong reactions out of your audience. Spend time making a solid script! You can spend thousands of dollars to have something aesthetically pleasing, but if you lack a solid story, you’re not going to accomplish anything.

Secondly, if you end up with a great result: market it! This was a school project that went head to head with massive production studios. Take a risk and have faith in your work. If you don’t have faith in your work, why should anyone else? Submit your work to film festivals, the worst they can say is ‘no’.

In summation, this is a magical film with such a strong message behind it. Is it a love story? Is it truly selfish sacrifice? Can the main doll resurrect somehow? We don’t know, but we will come up with our own conclusions, and THAT is the sign of a well-done film.

We’ll be talking soon!

-Eric Jacobson


Despite the guest post status, Eric will soon become a full time author for Thinking Cinematic where he will focus on short-films. For the time being he will be submitting his posts as a guest until he has a more reliable computer to write and post from. It brings me great joy not only to welcome Eric Jacobson to Thinking Cinematic, but to announce that as of this morning this site has received over 200 views within its first month. Not too shabby if you ask me. So not to steal Eric’s thunder I’ll keep this short and say thank you guys all very much and continue to look forward for neat stuff in the works! 

Interested in writing for ThinkingCinematic? Email your entries at 

Connect with me on these sites:
Twitter: Treyrs20o9
Twitter: Think_Cinematic


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