Wanderer follows the thoughts of a man and his struggles to stay grounded in a moment. Animated by Chicago-based Alex Moy, we’re invited into the protagonist’s world and we begin to “pick up on the very small ticks of the room around him”, leading to a “visual rhythm that hypnotises the viewer”. Throughout the animated short reality becomes blurred and the idea we’re travelling through someone’s conscious is reinforced.
The film was inspired by Alex’s own life experiences. “I’m in the middle of my fourth year in undergrad [at DePaul University] and it seems like I’m the busiest I’ve ever been,” says Alex. “This year has been a strange blur of trying to find time to work, play and produce the quality of work that I want to and more often than not, I find my brain scatter, picking up pieces and trying to hold onto many ideas at one time.”
Alex’s short is riddled with unnerving moments and weird scenes, like a close moustache shave, a gush of red wine and a flapping piece of steak. The intense and creepy atmosphere reminded us of the good old days of flash animation Salad Fingers and this idea of oddness is something Alex finds himself drawn to. “I’ve always seen animation as being this artform that transcends the ability of live action as a tool or lens of introspection. As a result, my style tends to be a bit surreal, and somewhat darkly humorous,” explains the animator. “My biggest inspirations come from artists that aren’t afraid to be called ‘weird’ – I love the work of Noah Malone, and have many nights re-watching episodes of Liquid Television.”
The animation was produced in ten weeks, with the first two set aside for preproduction. “The beginning was the hardest, by far. I had to surrender a lot of the control to just the process itself, knowing that it would rely heavily on a solid editing style to fully stitch it all together,” explains Alex. “I had to mix the pre-production, production, and post-production all into one process in order to keep myself on track and make sure I was telling a story that could be received, yet still present this sense of ambiguity at the same time.”
Eventually Alex feels he ended up working on the story from the outside-in, allowing his imagination the freedom to go wild. “I think this film was a way of reminding myself that, though our minds can be fun places to escape to, sometimes if you check out for too long you can miss out on a lot of valuable experiences,” says Alex. “I’m still learning about myself and the types of stories I want to tell, and this film is just another way of raising questions about how I see the world, many of which I still don’t have a lot of answers to, and that’s perfectly fine.”