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.
Directoion, Screenplay, Animation, Sound - Chris Harding
Narration - Mark Cook
Produced in Prairie Village, KS, USA
Premiered March, 2005 at the SXSW Film Festival, Austin, TX
©2005 Chris Harding Animation Concern
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.
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.
Best Professional Animation Award,
Audience Choice Award for Best Film
Robert Altman Best of the Fest Award,
Best Animation Award,
Judges’ Choice Award
Golden Toof Award for Best Animated Short
Special Mention, International Category
Spirit of the Hoka Award for Best Animaion
Audience Choice Award for Best Short
Selected for Best of AIFF Show
Selected for Best of Anima Mundi Show
Selected for Best of SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Show
Finalist for Best Animated Film
Selected for Best of Midwest Show
Selected for Best of Screendoor 2005 Show
"These shorts definitely aren't the 'feel-good'
- Audra Schroeder, Austin Chronicle
...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)
…Chris Harding's hilariously on-target political satire Learn Self-Defense should be required viewing in D.C.
...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)
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.
…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…
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.
...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.
...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...
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.
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.
...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...
...Chris Harding's Learn Self Defense is a bitingly funny satire of Bush era foreign policy...
Learn Self Defense by Chris Harding and the Chris Harding Animation Concern successfully pulled off a satirical political commentary on violence and WMDs.
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.
...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...
...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...
...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.
- AtomFilms – 2005-2006
- Animation Show Myspace Channel – 2007