“WSIM: What Suffered Inside Me” is a short drama about a character named Simon that sees himself as an incomplete stick figure with crossed lines (horizontal and vertical) on his face. He visualizes simple figures with only horizontal lines on their faces as unable to see his inner self. The feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, and falling into darkness, represented by black blobs, can form clinical depression. At the beginning of the film, Simon is having a meal with a dark figure. Simon doesn’t have eyes to see the figure’s inner self and doesn’t understand him until the black figure begins to show his unhappy mood. Simon notices the way that this figure is acting and his eyes begin to open.
Different scenes take place such as Simon’s flashbacks before and after his disability, and other suffering moments that he has experienced. Using his imagination to express his feelings and memories, he creates an artwork — hung in a gallery — to let people see, share, and understand his invisible disability.
WHY AND HOW I MADE THE ANIMATION
I decided to make this short film in my last year of OCAD University as my Drawing & Painting thesis project. Many of my old artworks didn’t relate much to my personal self, and I eventually decided to share the troubles that I was having in the past with my invisible disability, as well as incorporating the experiences of others suffering from clinical depression. I was also taking some Integrated Media courses, in which I learned about editing, film, video, etc, and started to combine what I learned together with that from my Drawing/Painting programs to make a personal, message-driven animation project.?
I wanted to make a 2-dimensional classical style animation because I missed the old animated films by Walt Disney. Instead of drawing it in 3D or using a tablet and computer, I used the same old-style animation camera stand and light table equipment as Walt Disney. In this classical technique, a camera is hooked above a stand, aiming below at a translucent light box. Backgrounds and figure drawings are layered together on different sheets of paper, attached to the light box. Every frame movement is shot by a camera, after which the frame images are sent to a computer where they are put in order, ready to be tested and animated. I was taught how to use this equipment by the Toronto Animated Image Society; I learned frame-by-frame skills from Richard Williams’ book “The Animation Survival Kit”, as well as black film strip scratching technique from Norman McLaren.
Instead of depicting realistic figures, I chose to draw the characters in a simplified way, because I sometimes feel like I have trouble being independent as a grown up adult; it makes me feel like my left brain is still like an elementary student’s, trying to understand what grown ups are talking about with their complicated words. This animation also relates to my daydreaming right brain world.
Meet Jennifer Hardy, ILWAD member
Jennifer Hardy suffered a stroke when she was 14 years old, in 2000. Before her stroke, she achieved A grades in high school and wanted to pursue medical school or zoology. After her stroke, she had to relearn how to speak and write (in a household where her mother only spoke broken English), forgetting her mom’s name and basic words like “thumb”, as well as walk; she couldn’t travel long distances or exercise for three years while the blood clot shrank. She struggled to achieve passing grades, requiring constant help from her gracious friend and years of speech therapy. She developed symptoms of aphasia: difficulty in speaking, understanding, and paying attention. Her stroke also left her with complete half blindness in each eye.
She lost the logical left side of her brain that processed communication and critical thinking (required for doctors and zoologists – her goal), leaving her feeling overly depressed, isolated, alone, and not understood; she was teased and excluded from group work in school and lost friends because of her learning disability.
She was troubled with her aphasia and began to focus on developing her right brain and skills in visual art, eventually enrolling in and graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, in Toronto, Canada . She majored in Drawing and Painting, also studying Integrated Media, creating the 2-dimensional classical animation “WSIM: What Suffering Inside Me” as her thesis project in her final year. The short film was screened at over a dozen film festivals in Canada and the U.S.A. She won 3 Best Film Awards and an Honourable Mention. With this short film she hopes to spread a message of awareness about aphasia and invisible disabilities.
(English Edited by Erik Chan)