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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! 😀

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. @___@ 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:

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.