Learn Self Defense is a basic how-to guide for anyone interested in personal safety and/or world domination.

WATCH as a cocksure narrator guides an ordinary citizen through five strangely familiar lessons of self-defense!

MARVEL as he is turned loose in the streets to wreak bloody havoc!

Learn Self Defense premiered in March, 2005 and has since played in over 100 festivals in 22 countries, taking home several awards and the like.

Click here for an interview with Taylor Jessen for the Animation Show

WATCH THE SHORT

STILLS & SKETCHES

 

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS


CREDITS

Directoion, Screenplay, Animation, Sound - Chris Harding
Narration - Mark Cook

INFO

TRT: 05:05
Produced in Prairie Village, KS, USA
Premiered March, 2005 at the SXSW Film Festival, Austin, TX
©2005 Chris Harding Animation Concern

SYNOPSIS

Five practical lessons of self-defense for the citizen on the go... or super-power on the rampage!

After being brutally mugged in an alley, citizen George decides he must learn to protect himself. A cocksure narrator instructs him in a style of self-defense that will lead to either absolute security, or the bloody destruction of civilization as we know it.

FUN FACTS

Mark Cook, the Narrator in Learn Self Defense, happens to be an actual self-defense expert and instructor. Oddly, he has refused to endorse the methods demonstrated in this film.

The original storyboards for Learn Self Defense actually included a sequence in which the main character pulls down his opponent's pants and points, in order to humiliate him and gain a psychological edge. This shot was removed after nearly identical incidents were reported at Abu Ghraib prison the following summer. Truth is meaner than fiction.

To recreate the sound of blood dripping on a taught canvas, many methods were tried before Chris Harding stumbled upon the idea of recording himself urinating on an umbrella. (Fun-fact??...or inspiring peek into a life well lived??)

Much has been made, by the paranoid conspiracy theory crowd, of the fact that the initials for Learn Self Defense are LSD. We assure you this is a mere coincidence, and that no drugs were used during the making of this film-- unless extreme sleep-deprivation counts as a drug.

 

AWARDS


Bradford Animation Festival 2005

Best Professional Animation Award,
Audience Choice Award for Best Film

Kansas City Filmmakers’ Jubilee 2005

Robert Altman Best of the Fest Award,
Best Animation Award,

First Sundays Comedy Film Festival 2005

Judges’ Choice Award

Toofy Film Festival 2005

Golden Toof Award for Best Animated Short

Féile Beochan Animation Festival 2005

Special Mention, International Category

Oxford Film Festival 2005

Spirit of the Hoka Award for Best Animaion

Tallgrass Film Festival 2005

Audience Choice Award for Best Short

Flash Forward Film Festival NY 2005

Finalist

Third Screen Film Festival 2006

Finalist

Arizona International Film Festival 2005

Selected for Best of AIFF Show

Anima Mundi 2005

Selected for Best of Anima Mundi Show

SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2005

Selected for Best of SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Show

Ohio Independent Film Festival

Finalist for Best Animated Film

Milwaukee International Film Festival 2005

Selected for Best of Midwest Show

Screen Door Film Festival

Selected for Best of Screendoor 2005 Show

 


REVIEWS

"These shorts definitely aren't the 'feel-good' type"
- Audra Schroeder, Austin Chronicle

 

 

Rick's Flicks Picks review at Animation Blogspot

...Though the satire of the current war in Iraq is apparent, the film works equally well for past wars and American morals in general. Harding’s sense for the entire package from design to acting to timing is impeccable... (read entire review here)

- Rick DeMott, Animation Blogspot
June 2, 2008

 

 

Short And Sweet” – Creative Screenwriting (review of Toofy Shorts, Vol. 1)

…Chris Harding's hilariously on-target political satire Learn Self-Defense should be required viewing in D.C.

- Jim Cirile, Creative Screenwriting
March 16, 2007

Animation World Magazine review (exerpt)

...This could have been very topical and on-the-nose, and like most timely satire destined to fade quickly from memory. Instead Learn Self Defense is one for the ages. In a classic homeroom-style educational film format, he lays out hilariously self-fulfilling arguments for war that would become standard in some alternate-universe, subversive American educational system.... (click here for full article)

- Taylor Jessen, Animation World Magazine
April 22, 2005

fps Magazine September 2005 Cover Story

Self-Defense [sic] is a digital descendant of UPA in its two-dimensional flatter-than-flat style of limited animation, colour and voice-over instructional narration, to point, in particular, to Jaywalker, the 1957 animation directed by Bobe Cannon and colour-keyed by Jules Engel. Dressing contemporary political commentary in satire, Harding brilliantly sets the story of George deciding that he must learn to protect himself after being brutally attacked in an alley...

...the intent of this film is not dissimilar to John Hubley’s in his 1946 Brotherhood of Man. Thankfully, Chris Harding will not find himself at the behest of McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Affairs as did Hubley for making art.

- Janeann Dill, PH.D. MFA, MA, BA
fps Magazine, September, 2005

 

New York Daily News, “Who likes short shorts?”

…Also entertaining is... Chris Harding's "Learn Self Defense," in which we are taught, quite charmingly, that ruthless violence is the only way to survive…

- Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News
August 8, 2005

Kansas City Star review of Kansas City Filmmakers' Jubilee

Chris Harding's animated “Learn Self Defense” poses as a grimly amusing tale of a crime victim who decides to fight back pre-emptively, identifying individuals on the street as potential criminals and eliminating them before they can attack.

It's gruesomely funny and, if you're so inclined, it's also a satiric parable about American foreign policy.

- Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
April 21, 2005

Pitch Weekly review of Kansas City Filmmakers' Jubilee

...Learn Self Defense, wherein Chris Harding employs an animation style that pays homage to 1950s-style cartoons about personal hygiene and wittily exposes the hypocrisy of fundamentalist homilies.

- Steve Walker, Pitch Weekly
April 21, 2005

Celluloid Eyes review of SXSW Animated Shorts Program

...a very nice collection. My favorite, which I think was an overall audience favorite too, was "Learn Self Defense." It is a parody of educational animated films, in which an average little man named George learns all about how to defend himself. After the first lesson, you start realizing that there's a reason why this character is named George, and that many of these lessons seem to be directed at another George we all know. The director, Chris Harding, was in attendance and he said that there are in fact people who don't make the connection between the main character and certain political figures. But this Austin audience got it and loved it...

- Jette, Celluloid Eyes
March 14, 2005

Austin Chronicle review of SXSW Animated Shorts Program

Sure, the last time you saw "animation" might have been as the opening act for Carrot Top at the Chuckle Bucket, but this collection of animated shorts has – gasp – a social message. … Most enjoyable, however, is "Learn Self-Defense," the story of a simple man named George who is a god-fearing husband and father, until he is robbed and beaten. He decides he must learn self-defense, and the final scene shows George in a 10-gallon hat, skipping down Main Street in Anytown, USA, and polishing off any person who gets in his way. These shorts definitely aren't the "feel-good" type, but the message should be applauded.

- Audra Schroeder, Austin Chronicle
March 18, 2005

Hybrid Magazine review of SXSW Animated Shorts Program

Animated Shorts, o light of my life! Fire of my... No wait, that's Lolita. Well anyway, the program of animated short films is always a festival treat and this year was no exception. Highlights include... the political hilarity of Chris Harding's Learn Self Defense; and Backseat Bingo, Liz Blazer's documentary about the sex lives of octogenarians.

- Roxanne Bogucka, Hybrid Magazine
March 13, 2005

IndieWIRE review of Florida Film Festival

...Highlights include The Old Man and Hemingway directed by Hugo Perez; Learn Self Defense, directed by Chris Harding; and the North American premiere of The Intervention, directed by Jay Duplass, winner of a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival last month...

- Shilpa Mankikar, indieWIRE
March 17, 2005

Twitch Film review of Worldwide Short Film Festival

...Chris Harding's Learn Self Defense is a bitingly funny satire of Bush era foreign policy...

- Twitch Film
June 19, 2005

VFX World
SIGGRAPH 2005 Overview: Electronic Theater & Animation Festival

Learn Self Defense by Chris Harding and the Chris Harding Animation Concern successfully pulled off a satirical political commentary on violence and WMDs.

- Mary Ann Skweres, VFX World
August 16, 2005

Vital Source
A Darkened Room, A Reel of Film + Me

The five-minute film is a cynically humorous piece done in the style of 1950s educational films. The cleverness here is mirrored in Harding's 2003 animated short, Make Mine Shoebox, which can be seen in all of its 5-minute glory online at www.chrisharding.net.

- Russ Bickerstaff, Vital Source
October 1, 2005

Straight.com review of Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation 2005

...In general, everyone here is up for quite a bit of pain and violence, with only one short having a real (sharpened) point. Chris Harding’s “Learn Self Defense” would be a handsomely drawn spoof of cowardly machismo even if you didn’t (eventually) recognize that the George doing all the defending here is the president of the you-know-what...

- Ken Eisner, Straight.com
November 10, 2005

Portland Mercury
Here We Go Again: Spike & Mike Are Still Sick and Twisted – Mostly

...A highlight is... Learn Self Defense, which, in many ways, shares the same subtle, politically charged humor as Martin Scorsese's brilliant 1967 short The Big Shave...

- Michael Filtz, Portland Mercury
January 19, 2006

metroactive
Gross Points – 'Spike and Mike's 2006 Sick & Twisted Animation Festival':
Hey, what happened? It's pretty good.

...a cynically humorous piece done in the style of 1950s educational films. The cleverness here is mirrored in Harding's 2003 animated short, Make Mine Shoebox, which can be seen in all of its 5-minute glory online at www.chrisharding.net.

- Richard von Busack, metroactive
April 5, 2006

 

EXHIBITION HISTORY


2005

  • (Premiere) SXSW 2005 – March 11-19, 2005
  • DC Independent Film Festival – March 2-13, 2005
  • Florida Film Festival – April 8-17, 2005
  • Arizona International Film Festival – April 14-24, 2005
  • Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee – April 22-28, 2005
  • ASU Art Museum Short Film & Video Festival – April 23, 2005
  • Maryland Film Festival – May 5-8, 2005
  • Anifest (Czech Republic) – May 5-11, 2005
  • Antelope Valley Independent Film Festival – May 13-15, 2005
  • Screen Door Films presentation – May 24, 2005
  • Kansas City Independent Filmmakers Coalition First Fridays – June 3
  • Annecy Animated Film Festival (France) – June 6-11, 2005
  • Winnipeg International Film Festival – June 9-12
  • Worldwide Short Film Festival (Toronto) – June 14-19
  • Durban International Film Festival (S. Africa) June 15-26
  • FlashForward Film Festival (New York) – July 6-8
  • Anima Mundi, Rio – July 8-17
  • COMEDIA Just For Laughs Eat My Shorts Series (Montréal)  – July 14-24
  • Anima Mundi, São Paulo – July 20-24
  • Tyrannosaurus Fest B-Movie Festival, Austin – July 23
  • HypeFest (Los Angeles) – July 30-31
  • SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival – July 21-August 4
  • First Sundays Comedy Film Festival (New York) – August 8
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival – August 9-14
  • Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival – August 11-16
  • Anima Mundi Special Selections, Brazília – August 16-21
  • Sacramento Film and Music Festival – August 17-21
  • L’Etrange Festival (Paris) – August 31-September 13
  • Anima Mundi Special Selections, Belém – September 1-4
  • Féile Beochan Animation Festival (Ireland) – September 1-4
  • Prixars Electronica Animation Festival (Austria) – September 1-6
  • Fantoche Animation & Film Festival (Baden, Switzerland) – September 6-11
  • Oxford Film Festival (Mississippi) ­– September 6-11
  • Los Angeles Short Film Festival – September 6-14
  • Rome International Film Festival (Georgia) – September 8-11
  • BUSTER Film Festival for Children and Youth (Copenhagen) -- September 12-18
  • Toofy Film Festival (Boulder, CO) – September 14-18
  • Temecula Valley International Film Festival – September 14-22
  • Port City Animation Festival (Wilmington, NC) – September 16-18
  • Ottawa International Animation Festival – September 21-25
  • Woodstock Film Festival – September 28-October 2
  • DC Independent Film Festival Summer Series Tour (London, Paris) – Sept-Oct
  • IMAGO Young Film and Video Festival (Portugal)  ­­– October 1-8
  • Leipzig Festival for Documentary & Animated Film – October 3-9
  • New Orleans Film Festival – October 6-13
  • Red Bank International Film Festival (New Jersey) – October 14-16
  • Norwich International Animation Festival – October 19-22
  • Milwaukee International Film Festival – October 20-30
  • Tallgrass Film Festival – October 24
  • la Fête de l' Animation (Lille, France) – October 21-23
  • California Independent Film Festival – October 26-30
  • Wiesbaden International Weekend of Animation – October 27-30
  • San Sebastián Horror and Fantasy Film Festival – October 29- November 5
  • Puchon International Student Animation Festival – November 4-8
  • Ohio Independent Film Festival – November 6-13
  • Starz Denver International Film Festival – November 10-20
  • St. Louis International Film Festival – November 10-20
  • Bradford Animation Festival – November 16-19
  • openArt Short Film Fest "Rendez-Vous" (Tokyo) – November 22- December 1
  • Animated Dreams, Black Nights Film Festival – November 24- December 11
  • Pictoplasma Animation Festival – November 25-26
  • Cinémathèque québécoise, Quebec City – November 26-27
  • I Castelli Animati – November 30- December 4
  • Cinémathèque québécoise, Montreal – December 2-3
  • Les Nuits Magiques – December 5-11
  • Seoul Animatheque – December 16-18

2006

  • SIGGRAPH Best of Computer Animation Show (New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Taipei) – 2006
  • San Diego Visual Underground Festival – 2006 series
  • Future Film Festival – January 18-22
  • Beloit International Film Festival – January 19-22
  • AOL/Moviefone Film Festival – January 21
  • Le Cube, Paris – January 26, 2006
  • Best of Screendoor Film Festival 2005 (Austin, TX) – February 3-4
  • Malaga Art and Technology Festival – February 13-19
  • International Week of Fantastic Films – March 2-10
  • Anima 2006 (Brussels) – Feb 24-March 6
  • Festival d'un Jour – March 17-18
  • Cinematic Brunch, Rome – March 26
  • Nemo Film Festival, Paris – April 7-23
  • IndieLisboa (Lisbon, Portugal) – April 20-30
  • Trickfilm-Festival Stuttgart – April 27- May 2
  • Best of Seoul Animatheque Tour – Jeonju, Kwangjoo – April-May
  • Animabasauri, Spain – May 2-7
  • Très Courts Festival, Future Film Festival Program, Bologna – May 7
  • Milwaukee Film Festival Summer Art Museum Program – Summer 2006
  • Annecy Animation Festival, Politically Incorrect Program – June 5-10
  • Animafest, Zagreb, Croatia – June 12-17
  • Le Grand Rire Festival, Quebec City – June 28-July 2
  • Fantasia Film Festival, Montréal – July 6-24
  • The Lowlands Festival, Netherlands – August 18-20
  • eDIT 9 Filmmaker´s Festival – September 24-26
  • Third Screen Film Festival – October
  • New Orleans Film Festival – October 12-15
  • Okinawa Motion Picture Festival – November 24-26

2007

  • Animated Exeter, Best of World Animation Programme – February 12-24
  • Wizard World Film Festival – March 16-18
  • First Sundays Comedy Festival – 5 Year Anniversary, “Best Of” Show – April 3
  • PA Festival of Films – April 19
  • Films On The Run – August-October tour

OTHER SCREENINGS

DVD

- SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater Program DVD, 2006
- Pictoplasma Contemporary Character Design in Animation Collection DVD, 2006
- SHORTS! Volume IV DVD Collection, 2007
- Animation Show Volume 3, 2008

Television

- SogeCable (Spain) – 2006
- Swiss Cable – 2006
- PlumTV, Boing! Animation Program– 2007 ‹-- chickened out at the last minute
- MTV2 , Animation Show Program - 2008 ‹-- also chickened out at the last minute

Internet

- AtomFilms – 2005-2006
- Animation Show Myspace Channel – 2007

Theatrical

- Spike & Mike Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation Tour – 2006-2007


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