"Oppression, abuse and bullying are the ways of the land as seen through the eyes of one red balloon. Take a stand."

In a strange world, Ids rule the sky. They create and then enslave, abuse, and bully balloons. Ids are completely reliant upon the balloons for nearly everything in their daily lives, including transportation and sustenance. The balloons don't question this and they don't fight back. Born into this world, the balloons have no choice but to endure the horrible mistreatment.

Or do they?

'Tethered' is the story of one brave red balloon that sees the oppression for what it is and must find the courage to take a stand showing its fellow balloons the power has always been inside them.

  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Joseph Akins
    Original Music
  • Chris Dyer
    Voice Acting
  • Kevin McNulty
    Character Design
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
  • Kevin McNulty
    Visual Effects
    The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill
  • Kevin McNulty
    Sound Design
  • Kevin McNulty
    Sound Effects
  • FreeSFX.co.uk
    Sound Effects
  • FreeSound.org
    Sound Effects
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 18, 2014
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Luksuz Festival Poceni Filma
    Krško, Slovenia
    December 6, 2014
    Slovenia Premiere
  • Courant Court Film Festival
    Prades, France
    December 19, 2014
  • IMA International Film Festival
    December 9, 2014
    India Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Access Code Short Film Festival
    Bangalore, Karnataka
    Bangalore, Karnataka Premiere
  • NOFI World Festival of Student and Non-Commerical Films
    Glendale, California
    California Premiere
    Diploma of Honor
  • iChilla Manila
    Sampaloc, Manila
    Philippines Premiere
  • 8th International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh
    Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Bangladesh Premiere
  • Computer Arts it Awards
    New York City, New York
    December 20, 2014
    New York Premiere
    Choice Award for Best it Digital Short Animation
  • Kanyakumari International Film Festival
    Kanyakumari, India
    December 21, 2014
  • MiCe Film Festival
    Valencia, Spain
    March 27, 2015
    Spain Premiere
  • Golden Palmera Film Festival
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    January 25, 2015
    Dubai Premiere
  • Three Cities Online Film/TV Festival & Conference
    Online only @ http://www.threecitiesfest.com/
    May 16, 2015
    Nominated: Best Screenplay
  • Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival
    Asbury Park, New Jersey
    April 18, 2015
    New Jersey Premiere
    Nominated: Best Animation
  • Boomtown Film and Music Festival
    Beaumont, Texas
    February 25, 2015
    2nd Place Best Animation
  • Down East Flick Fest
    Greenville, North Carolina
    April 10, 2015
    North Carolina Premiere
  • U.S. Weed Channel Film Festival
    Bonsall, California
    March 15, 2015
  • Clean Shorts Film Festival
    Choctaw, Oklahoma
    April 3, 2015
    Oklahoma Premiere
  • Athens ANIMFEST
    Athens, Greece
    March 26, 2015
    Greece Premiere
  • Pacific Coast International Film Festival
    Torrance, California
    April 25, 2015
    Judges Favorite Award
  • SouthEastern Film Festival
    Atlanta, Georgia
    May 1, 2015
  • Nashville Film Festival
    Nashville, Tennessee
    April 16, 2015
  • Eastern North Carolina Film Festival
    Winterville, North Carolina
    June 13, 2015
  • 14th Annual XpoNorth
    Inverness-shire, Scotland
    June 10, 2015
  • Hampshire Film Festival
    Hampshire, United Kingdom
    April 12, 2016
  • MiCe d'Estiu SummerMice
    Valencia, Spain
  • 10th Annual Film Fest 52
    Bethel, Connecticut
    United States
    May 1, 2016
  • South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF)
    Austin, Texas
    United States
    November 30, 2015
  • 22nd Annual Visionaria Film Festival
    October 8, 2015
  • 15th Annual Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte
  • 7th Annual Hsin-Yi Children's Animation Awards
    November 1, 2016
    Taipei, Taiwan
  • Equality Festival
    December 8, 2016
    Kiev, Ukraine
Director Biography - Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty: Even as a young child, Kevin was fascinated with film, television, animation, and storytelling. He often made his own stop motion animations with nothing more than his dad’s VHS camera, some lumps of clay, and lots patience. At the State University of New York College at Geneseo, he duel majored in Mass Media Production and Studio Art earning his B.A. From there, he received his M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology studying 3D Computer Animation. It was there that Kevin discovered his passion for teaching. Kevin has been teaching for nearly 13 years and currently teaches 3D computer animation and traditional animation at Middle Tennessee State University. Kevin has also been heavily involved in ACM SIGGRAPH, advising an official ACM SIGGRAPH student chapter, and currently serves on the SIGGRAPH Education Committee. Kevin’s other films include “Coffee,” “10 Second Jimmy,” “Don’t Drop the Soap,” and “Loose Stool.”

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"Tethered" was a labor of love and dislike. Love, in that the subject matter was very personal to me, and a departure from my prior comedic films. Dislike, in that it took me about five years to finally complete it. I work full-time as a university professor, so the summers would usually be my only time I could devote to the film.

The concept for "Tethered" came to me in late 2009. I had been racking my brain for weeks trying to come up with a new film idea. The process was not organic and I was forcing it. One day, it just dawned on me. I needed to take my own advice I was constantly giving my students. “Write from life. Write from YOUR life. This is your time to say something. What do you want to tell the world?” I decided to write about my past. From junior high until high school graduation, I was constantly physically and mentally bullied and was called gay, faggot and plenty of other similar names. Though I’m not actually gay, the bullies in my school looked at me as an easy target. I was short, very young looking for my age, my voice hadn’t change (which it never really did), and I cared about my physical appearance. I guess in their minds that meant I was gay. I was treated that way and felt the same (or similar) abuse those that are gay have had to endure. Because of the torment I suffered in school, I later became a champion for gay rights once I got to college.

Drawing upon those feelings of the past, Tethered soon began to take shape. The creatures, or “Ids” as I call them, are manifestations of those that do the abusing, oppressing and bullying. The balloons are me and anyone else that feels trapped in their current situation. Just as balloons are, we can be fragile. After constant mental torment, the spirit begins to break. The fight is gone. The balloons just accept their lot in life. Daily abuse is all they know. Why even bother to fight back? I took it a step further and had the Ids suck out the air/life of the balloons. They took everything and left nothing.

In the end, it was one red balloon that mustered up the courage and strength to take a stand against the mistreatment and literally and metaphorically let go of the negativity. The string wasn’t tied to the hook. It was just wrapped around the hook. The power to float away was its all along. The power was always in its grasp. It just takes bravery.

This film has grown beyond just a film for LBGT rights. It’s for any group or person that has ever been oppressed, abused or bullied. This is the core to "Tethered" and my message. You don’t have to accept things the way they are. You have the power to make a change and take a stand.