“I think when you’re just starting exploring a new medium, (in my case, fiction) collaboration can feel like this safe, cosy place to start,” says LA-based writer and editor Nada Alic. For the past few years Nada has been working with her friend, the animator Andrea Nakhla, on Future You a collection of short fiction and original artwork which explores the internal landscape of six different characters who are really trying to get this whole life thing right.
The latest iteration of Future You is an animated short called The Trick: A Simple Guide to Achieving Total Spiritual Transformation. Andrea animated it and Nada wrote the storyline and provided its narration. A repurposed short story Nada had written a while back, The Trick exemplifies the structure that each gives the other in their creative partnership. “Andrea gave something that would’ve been buried in my Google Docs forever a whole new life. The Trick is like our rescue animal.”
Anxiety, that most 21st century sensation, is a common theme in both Nada and Andrea’s work. “Specifically, a kind of existential anxiety is interesting to me, which is what I made my last series of paintings about,” Andrea says, linking it to her Christian upbringing where “the afterlife is all that mattered.” Having lost her faith, the painter needed to find another way to begin the process of finding meaning and purpose in her life. Art, as it does for so many of us, became Andrea’s tool for self-exploration.
Full of wit and humour, The Trick guides the viewer on a journey through modern manners. Think of it as a playful, animated, and knowing chat with the most hippy-dippy friend of yours, and you’ll be halfway there.
A gloriously loose interpretation of the sort of self-help spiritualism that seems so prevalent in certain sections of Los Angeles – where both Nada and Andrea currently live and work – The Trick is as charming as it is tongue-in-cheek. A visual departure for Andrea, the short film marks her first foray into frame by frame animation. “I didn’t storyboard beforehand, just drew out each scene as I went along with the aim of making it a continually morphing image. That kept it loose and flowing like the text it’s based on,” she tells It’s Nice That.
Inspired by writers like Ottessa Moshfegh, Nico Walker, Amy Barrodale, Alexandra Kleeman, and Ling Ma, Nada feels that given the sheer amount of work that goes into producing fiction it’s a sort of “radical act in a society that rewards reactivity, brevity and volume.”
We suggest that you set aside a few minutes and soak up this wonderful slice of audio-visual spiritual salvation. Still feeling a little low after it? Nada has some advice: “Renounce Instagram!”
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