CBTV Student Fest: “The Story Of A Nice Girl”

The seventh film in our Student Animation Festival, The Story Of A Nice Girl, comes to us from Jean Yi who produced it at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Yi’s film is an animated therapy session that reflects raw, real feelings in a perfectly charming way. Part of that charm comes from her vocal track which connects the viewer immediately to her story, her conversational performance being powerfully authentic and engaging. Her line drawings are deceptively simple. She draws herself as a simple stick figure, while others are drawn with more heft and personality. She uses color sparingly and for effect: gray lines for action or fantasy creations, pink for her band-aid, full color for her live “hand”. All this adds up to a perfectly satisfying autobiographical short that’s personal, sweet and yeah, dare I say it… nice.

Yi (above) provided us with some background on making The Story Of a Nice Girl:

Every now and then for the past year I wonder why I chose this subject for my thesis piece. As I’ve heard from a number of people, my animation is incredibly personal. Sometimes I still can’t believe I leapt from wanting to do something simply pretty to doing an animation where I’m narrating and drawing myself. Actually, being able to do a personal project initially sounded like an exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately in my hasty naivety, I did not correctly account for the fact that I abhor drawing myself and hearing my own voice. Fortunately, 23 years of living have armed me with both tolerance and a self-belittling sense of humor. I have spent the majority of the past year bouncing between regretting my decision and being spurred on to finish such a tremendous project.

Just in case you were unsure, my animation is about me. My film even mirrors my ‘nice-ness.’ My story isn’t trying to pin anything on anyone. It’s just me trying to show a snippet of my life. I’m trying to share something that people can relate to and can take something away from. Yet at the same time, I’m not trying to force it down anyone’s throat. Through its many forms and evolution, I see my thesis struggling to find balance like I am. In my pessimistically hopeful way, I doubt my film and yet still hope that it shares something.

I’ve always been interested in how people react to my ‘nice-ness.‘ I think at first I come off as being amicable, polite, and on the shy side. Once people start seeing me as a ‘nice’ girl though, things usually get amusing. Some people, who were at times also called ‘nice,’ see a fellow peer they can be a little mean to. There are also people who read my nice-ness with mistrust and suspicion. Of course there are always those who watch out for us and make sure we don’t get ourselves into trouble the way nice people do. The ones I find most amusing though are the ones who want to see me angry. The popular request in middle school was asking me to repeat a swear word or to yell loudly for no reason. These different reactions and their variations have always been a big part of being ‘nice’ for me. They bring out certain sides of people and help me in turn figure myself out. If it weren’t for those kids in elementary school, I would have never developed my ‘why yell when punching is faster?’ policy.

Filmmaker Websites:
Check out Jean Yi’s sketch blog and her portfolio.

Cartoon Brew’s second annual Student Animation Festival is made possible through the generous support of Titmouse and JibJab.


  • http://lifeincartoonmotion.org Tünde

    Such a cute, lovely and, yes, recognizable story. Really enjoyed it.

  • cbat628

    Simple artwork often seems to be a great compliment to personal stories and this film is no different. It has the highly sought after qualities of being involving and reflective. I have a feeling a great number of people are going to like, relate to this. I certainly do!

  • http://pierreportfolio.blogspot.com/ Pierre

    I certainly relate to this film in a very personal way, and love the approach the animator has taken. There were visual moments that really got to me, like the transforming eye and the way the animator used the very simple graphic style to emphasize her story.

    I must say this is certainly one of my favorite pieces in a long time and a huge congratulations on a really superb film.

  • http://youtube.com/thecartoontycoon JMack

    THat was good! Nice people shouldn’t have to feel like door mats! I never understood why people get weird when people are ” too nice” I think nice people should be praised, their aren’t a lot of them out there

  • Manu R

    Lovely film. Shows a very mature and subtle understanding of the issues at hand without getting too heavy handed or preachy. Few people her age can tell such a truthful story so simply and honestly without resorting to any gimmicks.

    Jean Yin is someone to keep an eye out for.

  • Justin

    Lol at the song at the end. So awesome!

  • http://www.tubbirdbelty.com Barbara

    I consider myself to (at one point) have been a fellow “nice girl,” and while the short is nice, I don’t think the subject it tackles goes deep enough. Real nice girls place top importance in accommodating the needs of others and pleasing people to such a point that they place their own needs last and routinely get trampled on. Nice girls could miss out on relationships, job advancements, etc because the desire to please others and see others succeed is too strong. And although I don’t have citations, it’s suggested that this stems from the social pressures put on women to fit into a certain stereotype. I was surprised to see this, and I think this kind of thing should be talked about more…

  • chris

    this is just so good. its intimate and sweet, and honest and disarming. its so deceptively simple. basically I just want to be your friend now. you seem nice :)

  • LintWick

    Since when did CB start being about chick flicks? I already saw my fill petty teenage identity crises in high school.

    But I guess it was actually pretty good.