The Moment: A short animation that will punch you in the gut with emotions

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In ‘The Moment’, artist Karis Oh gives us a glimpse of the human condition with a short but powerful film about a random meeting between two people.

Karis made the animation for her senior thesis film at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It took her two years to finish, from drafting a script to illustrating the whimsical scenes. It’s all worth it though, and despite being only two and a half minutes long, it’ll fill you with emotions.

We talked to Karis recently to find out more about the making of ‘The Moment’.

What was the inspiration for ‘The Moment’?

“I know it’s a boring answer, but I was inspired by everything around me and my daily life. Outdoor sketching and drawing portrait are something I always do and ‘The Moment’ also takes place in NYC where I’m currently at.

“People who know me thought that the film was a true story that actually happened to me, but it’s just a story I made up and something really personal not necessarily real (they even claimed that the girl character looks like me, but I don’t really agree with them. Haha).

“If I have to pick something as main inspirations for the film, I would say the plastic bag scene from American Beauty and BJ Miller’s talk, ‘What Really Matters at the End of Life’. My other artworks share the same message with those two inspirational clips. They both talk about life behind things that we can only see by using all the senses we have.”

You wrote, directed, and animated the entire short. Which role was most challenging for you?

“Writing a script and directing are something that just naturally happened since it was very personal film and I worked on it by myself. The most challenging part was animation. It was my first time traditionally animating two (highly-detailed) characters and it required so much dedication and self-control to tell a short story through 2D-animated characters.”

That plot twist at the end really packed an emotional punch. How did you come up with it? What was the creative process that led to that final scene?

“I love poems. I’m not an expert but I love how a poetry allows me to describe certain things that I can’t describe. If I had to make a film, therefore, I wanted to make a poetic film that hands an audience freedom to feel whatever they want to feel.

“Then I randomly heard this story about a talented singer whose both of his parents are deaf. I was captivated by that beautiful irony of his life and spent over a month to figure out how I was going to incorporate that irony into a poetic story I wanted to write.

“Because the entire film is so predicated to its ending, I had to constantly go back to subtle details such as like how I’m going to show his cane or what his final line would be. Every single second is on purpose and meant to enhance the ending. My mindset throughout the entire production process was just like I wrote in the script, ‘a tiny difference will make a loving film into a lonely film, excitement to longing.’”

‘The Moment’ only lasts two and a half minutes but it was able to tell so much. What’s your advice on great storytelling and character development?

“I don’t believe in any kind of written rules about great storytelling or creating appealing characters. I think only one thing matters when we tell a story. Sincerity.

“I recently realised that even a short birthday card can be a great story if I write it from my heart. You really need to mean it when you say something. Everyone can feel it when it’s a lie or not true-hearted. Once you figure out what you want to talk about and why you want to talk about it, the characters that will tell your story will easily come up because it will be either you or someone who is special for you.”

What does the film tell us about the human condition and the ability (or lack of it) to see?

“Through ‘The Moment,’ I simply wanted to ask people what it truly means to see something. We believe in so much of what we see these days, but I think people (including myself) are missing out so much from that. Why is the final result the only thing we see and care about? We need to be able to see invisible things like the thoughts that have been involved in the process or the emotions we felt in the moment.”

Lastly, what are you working on next?

“As a recent graduate, I’m currently working at a production studio just so that I can learn how to work with people in a collaborative environment. I, at the same time, have this main concern about losing my own time to make personal projects.

“I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to make time out of my full-time schedule, but I know that my next project will definitely be another animated short. I have so many ideas floating in my head, so I just need to sit down and write it down as a start. I hope it will happen sometime soon and I could come up with something more original and sincere.”

You can find out more about Karis Oh and her work here.