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CBTV Student Fest: “21 Years in 7 Minutes” By Caroline Torres

Welcome to the third annual Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival. Over the course of the next ten weeks, we’ll be debuting ten remarkable student animated shorts.

We’re launching the festival today with 21 Years in 7 Minutes by Caroline Torres (Rhode Island School of Design). Autobiographical stories are a staple of student filmmakers, but rarely have we seen one as confident and original as this one. Torres’ fast-paced accounting of her life uses superb visual storytelling filled with comedy and heart, and pairs it with a distinctively quirky animation style that complements the simple line artwork. The film is a pleasant reminder that life is most often about friendship in all its many forms, from boy-next door crushes to BFFs who share in everything to animation school friendships in which people often connect through their characters.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker, Caroline Torres:

The original idea for this film first came from these comic strips I used to make in middleschool/highschool to entertain myself and my friends. My friends would make comics about their day and I’d make them about mine, then we’d swap and crack up at what we’d missed out on in the classes we weren’t together in. In college, we wrote letters to each other in the same fashion, with more pictures than words. I realized the art I had the most, straight up JOY making wasn’t in any of my art classes, but was when I was drawing in letters to my buds. So I guess ’21 Years In 7 Minutes’ was my solution to making an animation that I would have a lot of fun with, that had to last the whole year. Also, a few months before we had to decide what our degree projects were going to be, my animation class went to the Ottawa Animation Festival where I saw this animation One Minute. That animation really clicked with how and what I wanted to be animating.

My toolbox was Flash CS3, and some After Effects CS5 compositing at the end for the paper background and softening the Flash line a bit. My composer Mr. Nathan used ProTools.

My biggest challenge in making this animation was clear storytelling. I’d animate and animate, then show my teachers all my fine work and they would be like “What is this? This makes no sense.” Then we’d talk for 20 minutes about why it made no sense, I’d go home, chuck out most of what I’d animated, and do it over. If I hadn’t been so stubborn and just story boarded my ideas out before animating, this could have been avoided.. but eh. Next time! :D

The most important thing I learned from making this short was that at some point I had to start making it for myself and not for the sake of impressing my teachers and peers. This didn’t mean ignoring their advice in crits, I just needed to figure out that I had to stop using how I thought everyone else was thinking as a crutch for my own thinking.

Inspirations throughout the making of 21 Years In 7 Minutes… Everyone I know who I like enough now to spend hours drawing over and over and over. Situations that I remember strongly, that I think influence who I am today. For example it always bothered me that the father of these kids that I used to babysit died in 9/11. I had a dream this year that was like “You’re douche bucket if you don’t put 9/11 in your animation.” I woke up and agreed. Old songs that I used to like were really helpful to listen to again. (Or songs that I was serenaded with on a daily basis whether I liked it or not.) Listening to those songs would bring back the feelings of old memories, and that helped to animate them. My composer-man would then make similar tunes to those songs for each corresponding section of my animation. The show Workaholics. They are inspiration for the rest of my LIFE. @[email protected] Such… perfection. Fruits Basket and Invader Zim, for analyzing great story-telling tips out of. My rabbit Storm. And most finally, PETA! Meatless-Monday my dear non-vegetarian/vegan friends. Meatless-Monday. FILMMAKER’S WEBSITE: CarolineTea.com

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.
  • Wonderful film, great job!! The 9/11 part struck a chord for me, I’m glad you had that dream. :)

    I really, really like what you wrote under “Lessons Learned.” Thanks for the inspiration!

  • this was utterly fantastic, and I plugged you on my facebook (yeah. woohoo. I know.).

    Nice touch with the 9/11 thing. Just enough to make it hit home without being all “OH MUH GAWD I WAS UFFECTED BY 9/11 EVERYBODY LOOK AND BE ALL HEARTBROKEN AND TOUCHED!”. Very well told and very well animated.


  • hats off. great bits in this and very smart all around.

    My one complaint is with the brewmasters using the acronym BFF, you are no longer 10 years old, please stop such behaviour

    • The Brewmasters

      lmao. j/k…xoxo mick

  • Madmartigan

    Maybe because I’m older (more than twice the age of the animator) I may be more susceptible to sentiment, but I was really affected by the 9/11 section. Nicely done. You have a real career waiting for you in animation.

  • Awesome work. I very much enjoyed that.

  • I Love that farting Duck!

  • tjr

    Loved it! Very creative.

  • Oliver

    Caroline this is great! Congratulations!

  • essebibi

    Great job. Touching, funny and true.
    Greetings from Switzerland and thanks for sharing!

  • Chelsea

    This is a great student film! I am probably of similar age, as Yu-Gi-Oh was a /huge/ inspiration for my artwork. I feel no shame admitting that comic/ anime is what inspired me to draw nonstop through middle school.

    I know other animation students similarly affected by the show so there must be some universal theme in there that many kids at that specific time found artistically/ creatively/ imaginatively… particularly inspiring. Even though I was one of those kids I can’t explain what I think my thirteen-year-old self loved so much. Ah well!

    Great work! Thank you for sharing!

  • I love, love, LOVE this. It manages to be prickly and sweet at the same time, and the timing is absolutely hilarious. Great character designs, too—simple and cute, but very funny.

  • Trevor

    ok, that mouse with the ear was also a very vivid memory from my childhood. It was on the cover of some news for kids periodical our school subscribed to. What the hell was with that thing

  • Wonderful animation. You have a great future in store. Best wishes for your continued success

    – B L

    PS – I eat extra meat on Mondays to cancel out PETA!

  • Michielle

    This is really awesome! I loved it.

    I like that the bunny was the one to give you the mushroom and enjoyed the way you animated the tripping aspect. :D

    The ending song and animations made me lol.

    Keep it up~

  • Jane

    You are exceptional!! This was a terrific way to spend a quick 7 minutes! Tell Granny Barb THANKS for putting me on to this.