In this charming animation, a small swimmer dives right into her fears
In Islena Neira and Benoît Michelet's Pool, a small rosy-cheeked swimmer goes up against a few big personalities in the water. With great contrast in the character design and plenty of moments of tension and release, this short film is all about facing your fears.
- 5 December 2019
- Alif Ibrahim
In Pool, Angoulême-based Islena Neira and Benoît Michelet show a mastery of contrast in character design and scale. In the short film, a small, cube-headed swimmer with rosy red cheeks dives into a massive swimming pool that’s filled with larger swimmers who swim with great force.
Though intimidated by the other people, she starts swimming, donning a blue cap and small goggles. As she struggles to stay afloat in the waves that the large swimmers create, she sinks to the bottom, before being saved by one of the larger swimmers who turns out to be more gentle than initially expected. The animation, which takes you from the turbulent space of the pool to the calm surface of the poolside, is a well-crafted film with plenty of moments of tension and release.
The initial idea for Pool started when Islena, originally from Zaragoza, drew a little swimmer and posted it on the internet. Paris native Benoît saw the drawing and was immediately drawn to her character, making a small animation of the swimmer. “We both wanted to do a short film that same year and I proposed that we collaborate and make a story about her," Islena tells It’s Nice That. “I don’t know why I was interested in the character,” Benoît adds. “Maybe I can project something about myself in her or maybe it was something else.”
“Little by little we created the story each afternoon after school. There was no script. We drew and drew until we found something that worked for us,” Islena says. “The story and feeling come from an experience of my childhood where I almost drowned in a public swimming pool. For a long time since then, I was scared of them, I also find that they’re a very strange place to be,” she continues.
In what sounds like the perfect collaboration, the two felt like they’d known each other for years even an hour into meeting. “Benoît and I worked very well together as we had similar sensibilities. Everything was fluid and it was very motivating to have another person fighting for the film,” Islena says of their collaboration.
“It was precisely during Pool that I saw that I loved to tell stories through animation. What attracts me about this medium is that sometimes you can touch other people’s hearts,” Islena says. “Like a big puzzle of movement, music and sound, you can create a big illusion and give life to something that is not really there.”
Benoît adds: “With art and cinema, there’s no right or wrong. You just come face to face with life itself, which is mysterious, illogical and hard sometimes but beautiful as well. I want to be creative and independent. Animation is my main preoccupation right now, but I’m also very interested in painting, drawing and illustrated books.”
GalleryIslena Neira and Benoît Michelet: Pool
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.