Immersion follows the story of Tommy and his trip to an indoor swimming pool. Created by Lalita Lupina, his visit is riddled with anxiety and we see Tommy’s distress manifest itself through excess sweating, leading to the protagonist creating his own salty pool of water. “I think there’s a lot of myself in his behaviour – I put a lot of my late night thoughts into his personality,” explains Switzerland-based Lalita. “Thoughts about my personal value, what distinguishes me from others and what’s ‘special’ about myself. I was a little scared that Immersion would end up a therapeutic short that nobody else would be interested in, so I changed things about the character to distance myself a little better from him.”
Lalita describes her style as expressing “slice of life stories with a surreal touch” and she does this through vivid colour designs, simply constructed characters and unusual aesthetics in her animations. For Immersion in particular, the use of split screens helps add a sense of tension and offer different perspectives of the action. “What inspired me most by using it was that it can make a cinematographic story feel really dense and crowded, so I searched for a story to fit this mood,” says the animator.
The split screens are used to create an uneasiness for the viewer as the focal point remains unclear, leading to the audience emulating similar feelings to Tommy. “It subversively adds a stronger emotional bond with him, so that the calm he feels at the end transfers directly to the audience – at least that’s what I hoped it would be like,” says Lalita.
The short is Lalita’s graduation film from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts where she studied 2D animation, yet the techniques she used for Immersion were more traditional than she was used to. “I had never done a ‘proper’ animated film, with proper storyboards and layouts and stuff before,” says Lalita. “So this was pretty much new ground for me and the time management was quite strict.”
Lalita takes the viewer on an emotional journey, yet the overall message is ultimately a positive one. “The message I’m trying to give people is that you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself or things you can’t change in the moment,” she says. “I want the audience to feel good about themselves and to go home thinking the thing that’s bugging them right now is manageable.”
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