NTS was written, designed, animated and directed by Aubry Mintz (Animator, Professor and Director of the CSULB School of Art) and narrated by actor Danny Aiello. This film uses three disparate animation techniques to tell this story each from a different point of view: ACT 1:hand drawn traditional animation methods for the Zoo world from the Zookeeper’s POV, ACT 2: computer animation for the underwater world from the Turtle’s POV and ACT 3: experimental/multi-media animation to transition between the two worlds shown from the Animal’s POV.
Zookeeper Dan runs a very special zoo, where the animals (predator and prey) roam free within the facility, eat gourmet food and live in harmony with their keeper. Dan really only has one rule, that the animals must speak their animal sound and perform a few tricks on his request.
As long as this seemingly harmless rule is followed, the Zookeeper is content but if it’s broken, he’s quick to show his temper. The animals do their best to toe the line and thus avoid making Dan unhappy. It seems a small price to pay for all he offers.
The system runs like clockwork until the fateful day a new exhibit arrives...the turtle. Unfortunately, the turtle is not privy to the rules and in truth, has nothing to say, no matter how angry Dan gets. Though he has tamed the wildest of beasts, including lions and bears, the Zookeeper seems to have met his match in this small silent creature.
By the end of the film, the turtle’s brave stance has exposed the fear at the heart of this enclosed society and proved the power of speaking with your own true voice.
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