You may have noticed the slightly creepy little face of the character above popping up all over your social media feeds? The film is Hi Stranger by animator and director Kirsten Lepore.
LA-based Lepore has been making beautiful films for a number of years now, pushing the realm of stop motion aesthetically and through her unique style of storytelling. Hi Stranger is no different, in fact, it might be her most intriguing work to date. The little film starts off in quite a confronting manner. A completely bald, pale body lies centre of camera and stares directly down the lens. It’s unusual to have a stop motion character talk directly at the audience, and so this experience somehow feels quite unnerving. However as the piece continues on, the affronting character begins to warm, softly speaking lines that sound like they’ve been pulled straight from self-help book. Lepore wanted to create an intimate space between the audience and the character, describing the dialogue as ‘pillow talk’. A sentiment that is acutely realised.
A premise as simple as this leaves little room for error, and Lepore’s painstakingly perfect animation holds it’s head high with subtle gestures and movements that echo the narration in a completely natural and humanistic way. I found myself drawing to the characters hands and the softness and ease in which they move. Producing something as delicate as this takes a lot of time and a whole lot of patience.
Hi Stranger was originally released as part of an anthology of short films by animation collective Late Night Work Club, which is 42 minutes of animation goodness, but you can also see it along with Lepore’s other films by visiting her website.