For those of who associate felting with earthy early childhood classrooms and dreamy landscapes, Dial Tone is a bit of a departure. “Felt is an inherently cottage core medium,” director Cole Montminy told us, “and I was having fun trying to taint that and push it towards a less fuzzy warm feeling. ” Cut to felt puppets punching each other’s felt brains out and you start to catch on: this is not your kindergarten teacher’s felt work.

But at its heart, this incredibly unique piece is about connection. “I made Dial Tone about the urge I had to call my friends I hadn’t seen during the pandemic,” Montminy Went on. “I always had this empty pit in my stomach that only a phone call could fill. I Imagined a world where I subsisted solely off of this empty urge and was lucky enough to have someone else who was doing the same.”

Back to that felt though. It sounds like it was more than a handful for Montminy to work with. “I had a lot of fun animating with it at first, but like anything you spend a year straight doing I got sick of it! Wool sticks to the dry cuticles of my fingers, makes a mess of your house, is expensive, and leaves colors looking muddled and grey after mixing. Maybe some day I’ll play with it again but not for the foreseeable future.

“The scale I was working on was about 24×18 inches,” he continued, “it was really time consuming felting all of the backgrounds and whenever I had a scene where the character moved through a 3d space—it was exhausting.”

We asked what was next for this creative. ”I experienced some burn out after this project,” he replied. “I’m less motivated to create short films and more excited by short bursts of animated experimentation! Right now I’m playing with paper cut out puppets; I’ve always inspired by the work of Francheska Yarbusova and Yuri Norstein.”

With some real candor, he then said, he was “…looking into my brain and heart to see what I want to make as opposed to being guided by what social media deems like-worthy. It’s really hard to overpower the urge for ENGAGEMENT ™.”

When we followed up on that last bit, Montminy told us ENGAGEMENT ™ may be a joke only he got. “I’m referring to the pressures of social media engagement,” then, in case we still didn’t get it he said, “ie-other people liking my posts.” But we got it all too well—Instagram was how we found his cool piece in the first place.