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Work / Animation

Kirsten Lepore’s creepy clay character is oddly soothing in this brilliant animation

LA-based director and animator Kirsten Lepore has created an unnerving, creepy little animation called Hi Stranger. Using stop motion animation, Kirsten’s odd, nude character delivers an unusual pep talk straight to camera. “I’d never seen a stop-motion character speak directly to an audience, so I wanted to create a really intimate space for pillow talk between character and viewer,” explains Kirsten. “Also I pulled inspiration from meditation, mindfulness, ASMR, gender fluidity, spirituality and fat-bottomed girls.”

Hi Stranger was first shown as part of an anthology of short films with animation collective Late Night Work Club last year, but Kirsten’s film has had another surge of internet love, having gone viral in the last few weeks. Kirsten describes her style as “playful, colourful, fun, handmade and unique”, and this short encompasses all of those elements. “I found this character during a trip to the astral plane and just filmed it with my iPhone,” says the animator. “But I did have a dream once that I animated a clay character frame by frame over the course of a month with practical lighting and a touch of after effects.”

The execution of the short is fantastic, with gestures and actions perfectly in sync with the character’s voice, acted by fellow director Garrett Michael Davis. For her animation projects, Kirsten usually writes and sketches out a storyboard, then builds, lights, shoots and adds some post effects. “I like that I get to make almost anything I can dream up happen,” says the animator. “If you have the time and patience for it, you get to play god. That’s pretty cool I guess.” The possibilities animation offers has always been a draw for the creative: “I always wanted to make inanimate things move around since I was young. I think I always knew the world-building potential of it and was excited by the vastness of what animation can be.”

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Kirsten Lepore: Hi Stranger (still)

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Kirsten Lepore: Hi Stranger (still)

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Kirsten Lepore: Hi Stranger (still)