October 20, 2021


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Joe Matteo’s animated short ‘Blush’ tells a personal story

2 min read

Emmy-winning writer, director and animator Joe Mate also has a personal story behind Apple TV Plus’ new animated short “Blush”. This story was born after losing his wife to breast cancer.

As she struggled to get back to work, she found inspiration and therapy to share the journey of hope and healing, but was also saved through love. “Blush” follows the journey of a stuck horticulturist-astronaut’s chances of survival after landing on a lonely dwarf planet. When an ethereal visitor arrives, the lone traveler discovers the joy of building a new life and realizes that the universe has given wonderful salvation.

Matteo explains, “We started with this planet which looks barren and boring. When the astronaut lands, there is nothing and he has a very limited supply of oxygen. When this visitor arrives, the music begins and we see this planet transformed into color and vitality, ”he said.

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The “blush” concept shows an explosion of color and life on the art planet after the astronaut meets a “visitor”
Courtesy of Apple

Mateo Animation Supervisor Yuriko Senoo says “a game-changer”. I had very limited knowledge about 2D animation and from there he brought it to life. ”

In an order that viewers see invisible, Mateo struggles with emotion. “I think we broke up just when we were discussing the animation of that,” he said.

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Concept art by Joe Matteo, director of “Blush”
Courtesy of Apple

“Blush” works with many elements in the overall look and design, celebrating Filipino culture and Mateo’s heritage. Senu said the mango tree was of utmost importance for the film as it was his wife’s favorite fruit. “We started talking about Filipino mangoes and the mango tree is a symbol of growth and life in movies,” Senu said.

He notes the spiral movement of the tree which was significant even after the growth was embodied.

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Mateo also sketches the character and the planet when he struggles to overcome grief
Courtesy of Apple

Another subtle difference was how the two characters were moved. The astronaut was more introverted than the visitor, who “had a lot of energy and movement. He’s also smiling that brightens the house,” Senu notes. “And we’re ashamed of his thing.” A heartfelt tribute.

Running at 14 minutes, Mateo always wants to be an animated short for “Blush”. He deliberately used scores and visuals to tell stories instead of dialogue because “I wanted to keep it universal.”

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