“I wanted to make a high school movie that was in line with my own adolescent experience as an internet dweller who nobody wanted to get off with,” says Caitlin McCarthy, a London-based animator who is definitely our creative crush this valentines for her new film Coldsore. Telling the story of the sweetest and shyly smiling teen, Coldsore documents Caitlin’s protagonists quest for a cold sore after the coolest girl waltzes into school sporting some blistering friends surrounding her lips.
Caitlin’s always been a lover of teen makeover movies “where the ugly duckling becomes super hot and popular, but I think that they gave me some unrealistic expectations as an awkward teen,” the animator tells It’s Nice That of Coldsore’s personal inspiration. In turn, Caitlin’s leading lady is one most can relate to: “She’s naive, but determined!” the animator points out. “Probably to her own detriment.” What Caitlin’s means by detriment is that her character, in her desperation for a cold sore too, turns to the internet looking for a kiss, ending up meeting an older creepily keen man down an alleyway in town for a peck. “I think the combination of teenage stupidity and insecurity lands most people in strange or horrible situations at one point or another,” she points out, “so hopefully people can relate to her in that sense at least.”
Within Coldsore Caitlin builds up details about her character’s temperament through tiny details. The way she’ll type something and quickly delete it, a quietly shocked but admiring facial expression when first presented with a cold sore, and the fact her computer keyboard is adorned with little smiley faces. “I had a lot of fun coming up with all the messages our girl receives from potential suitors,” the animator also points out. “I am infinitely fascinated with how desperate and freaky (mainly) men can be on the internet.”
Another illustrative edge to the short, is the posters stuck up in the background of the school. Caitlin emphasises “a few teeny nods to come in favourite internet vids and subcultures,” and also, a hilariously awkward moment “where one of the boys at school loses his boner as the protagonist debuts her new cold sores which I particularly like,” she points out. “Actually, there’s a lot of boner humour throughout now that I think of it.” Each and every scene animated by Caitlin is also elevated thanks to the perfectly in tune sound design of Father a London-based music composition and sound design duo made up of Joe Farley and Freddie Webb.
On the subject of coldsores, Caitlin’s actually been lucky enough to avoid the virus herself, “perks of being a loser,” she says. But for anyone who does pick one up this valentine’s day Caitlin’s mum “who had cold sores from her nose down to her chin in every school photo as a child,” suggests putting “lysine on it as soon as you feel the tingle, and more importantly those pound shop zovirax knockoffs are just as good as the real thing.”
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.