Investigating a mysterious explosion in the Florida Everglades, a crop-duster named Bill discovers a lone crate that survived the wreckage. Curiosity gets the better of him and he pulls the crate unto his airboat. That’s just the first in a series of decisions he learns to regret.

Ryan Gillis takes us on a crazy-pill adventure in the Florida Everglades with a unique and mystifying storyline that will leave you seeing flying palm trees for weeks. The animation style itself will leave you dazed in a jagged and squiggly place as a lone crop-duster discovers a crate that survived a mysterious explosion. Things just get weird from there.

Palm Rot was my graduation film from the MFA Animation program at the University of Southern California. I knew that I wanted it to be set in my home-state of Florida, and I wanted it to have all of Florida’s hot, trashy beauty. The idea came from this particular kind of California palm tree that sheds its fronds like a coat around the trunk. It has a really distinctive silhouette that for years I thought looked like a rocket. I never knew what to do with the idea until Palm Rot.

We get the feeling while watching this short that things just don’t need to make sense, and everything is just pretty much fucked up. Ryan intended it that way to make us feel like we’re writing part of the story – which is simply of lovely experience!

The narrative is vague – but not just because I wanted to make it ambiguous and weird. My hope was that by removing information, it would allow viewers to participate in the storytelling. Hopefully keep them engaged and interested.

Ryan is currently storyboarding a new show over at Disney TV Animation called Pickle and Peanut. In terms of personal work, he is collaborating on a short with Miguel Jiron, about chickens and exorcism, which sounds all very exciting!