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CBTV Student Fest #1: Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen

First up in our student film festival is Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen. It was made at the Rhode Island School of Design. The film appealed to us for its subtle yet affecting commentary on human relationships as well as Olsen’s complete command of stop-motion demonstrated through both design and animation.

Questions and comments for Michaela can be asked in the comments. Here are her production notes:

I love creating characters. I like to imagine their peccadilloes, how the walls of their rooms speak to who they are. That is really what drove the process of making Fuzzy Insides.

The project started slowly. I had all these ideas floating around in my brain and no way to connect them. My teachers, Amy Kravitz and Bryan Papciak encouraged me to veer away from artificial plot lines and forced narratives. After a few months of conceptualizing and mind changing, I decided to dive into the filmmaking part head first, and worry about the storyline later. Thus, I ended up with these odd little vignettes. The very last thing I made and shot was the spinning neighborhood block in the black abyss.

Fabrication of the puppets and sets took about 3 months. I made everything out of anything… my studio was full of random whatnots. I don’t know how to get rid of things. You can find proof of this in my parent’s basement where there are all kinds of doll heads and scraps of fabric stored away along with the four sets from this film, which are collecting dust on an old ping pong table.

I was left with little time to animate and edit (2 or 3 months), but the subdued nature of the character animation enabled me to work quickly. I used a Nikon D300, captured using Dragon Stop Motion software, and compiled in After Effects.

I draw a lot of inspiration from Eastern European and Russian animation (Yuri Norstein, Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Trnka, Priit Pärn), which probably interprets itself through the grittiness of the characters I created. A lot of people seem to view these characters as grotesque and sexual, but I think this film is about relationship dynamics and the unconditional quality of love: old love, young love, self-love, mammal love… They are all seemingly unconventional relationships, but not so extraordinary if you think about it. Behind closed doors, all relationships are weird and unique and what we see on the outside is often just a façade. My original plan was to shoot these characters from the outside of their homes through windows, but that was too cold and distant. I tried to make the environments warm and inviting. I find all the characters and situations rather sweet… but at a recent screening of Fuzzy Insides at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, one of the other filmmakers brought his young niece who was so frightened by my film that she had to leave the theater. So I guess everyone has his or her own interpretation.

More about Michaela Olsen