Cannes Lions

Dear Basketball Animated Short Film

ROGERS & COWAN, Los Angeles / VERIZON / 2018

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Case Film
Presentation Image

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Description

Kobe Bryant is known as a star scorer on courts, but “Dear Basketball” was all about collaboration among giants in their respective fields.

Bryant wanted his story to be told with traditional, hand-drawn animation—it seemed like the best way to articulate the imperfections that arise on the journey to achieve one’s life dream. Keane, who had never played basketball, studied hours of Bryant’s game films to capture the accurate physics of each movement. Bryant provided a heartfelt narration of his emotional letter, and his efforts merged with Keane’s artwork to bring the short, captivating journey to life. Williams’ original score added the emotional icing to this well-crafted cake.

The film highlights the entirety of Bryant’s career from childhood through retirement. Keane culminates the journey with young and adult Kobe in a single frame to highlight the notion of the child within us all.

Execution

When Bryant approached Keane to direct “Dear Basketball,” he insisted that it be hand-drawn to grasp the texture and soul of his poem. Keane embraced that creative freedom—he liked the idea of challenging himself to animate something beautiful and emotional using only paper and pencil. The five-minute film took roughly nine months to complete with a small, highly skilled team of 2D animators supporting Keane.

Outcome

“Dear Basketball” won the 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, but it also received numerous other accolades. These include an Annie Award for Best Short Film, the World Animation Festival Special Jury Prize and Award for Best Traditional Animation, the Cynopsis Media Short Form Award for Animation and three Sports Emmy nominations. The film debuted on Verizon’s go90, and is the single most successful piece of content in the history of the video streaming app.

The film was a launching pad for Bryant as a creator and entertainment entrepreneur while also celebrating Keane as an animation legend in his prime. “Dear Basketball” is truly reflective of quality independent filmmaking in an increasingly corporate world, and carries a message of dedication, joy and passion to all who watch it. And in that message is its most important legacy: a story about the passion and dreams in all of us.

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