If you follow my blog for some time, you already know that I finished and released my film Ins Dunkel in June. If you’re new to my blog, hi! You can watch my animated short here:

If you ever, ever consider to start an animated film project that is going to take a lot of your time and energy, please read this first:

I started this blog in 2008 to write down and document the process of making an animated short on my own, and I always find it crucial to reflect everything I do, and in this case it means reviewing all the things that has happen over the last five years. I still try to understand what’s happening right now (which is a lot, actually, but I’ll tell you later).

Havi Brooks is one of my favourite internet people and she has this wonderful weekly ritual in which she reflects upon her last seven days publicly without judging herself. I’m going to copy that format and I’ll try to reflect whole film project without judging myself, too.

So, here we go: I’ll chicken my film project, Ins Dunkel.

The Hard Stuff

It took me impressively long.

I wanted to do it on my own and so I did. Even though I did a lot of jobs to pay the bills and even though I created the whole piece on my own, I often felt ashamed because it took me so long. I often thought that I’d never be able to finish it, although I never thought of giving up, too.

People thought I’d probably never finish the film but kept asking about it.

The asking was really hard. „So, how is your project going? Do you know when you’ll be finished?“ Ouch. Shame and guilt. Lots of. And being afraid that they might be right.

It was exhausting, especially the last weeks.

It was because of all the emotional stuff that was connected to the film project but also because it is simply exhausting to produce, design, build, animate and edit (and also distribute) such a film all on my own. Creating a piece like this was pretty challenging for me: I did the research, experimented and made all decisions. I tried and erred and started again. I learned so much, but learning often is exhausting, too.

So much old pain.

Emotions don’t know time, they’re always in the present. There were a lot of „What if everybody laughs at me?“ and „What if nobody wants to see my film?“ and „What if I fail?“ and „What if [insert any traumatic childhood experience here]?“ So many what ifs

The Good Stuff

I learned so much.

I learned so much about

  • Stopmotion
  • myself
  • time and energy management
  • set and puppet building
  • what I want in animation


– The whole experience was like a big study on how to make things like this possible. And now I have this big purse filled with experience and I can easily access and use them. Nice!

The premiere night was all worth it.

I asked for a wonderful premiere night, and I got one. When the audience applauded, it was such a relief and I enjoyed every second. My film made people cry and think about beloved dead friends or relatives, and it was touching to see how much I am able to touch people’s hearts through my art.

Every minute I spent working on my film was necessary and important.

Even though I felt ashamed and guilty for not finishing the film quickly, I knew that every step of the process was necessary. The whole project was created in babysteps, and I couldn’t have skipped one of them.

I’m far more confident now.

I sent a proposal to an animation conference, I applied for another animation artist-in-residence program and I already sent my film to 15 international film festivals. I don’t have an answer yet but I’m damn proud that I sent out all these apllications.

I made several new internet friends

and some of them are amazingly supportive and awesome artists themselfes. I also met some of them in person, and I love to know that there are wonderful people who help and appreciate my work. (Hey guys!)

I still want to make more crazy projects like this.

Beside all the guilt and shame stuff this was so much fun. And even though the whole process contained lots of Hard Stuff, the good things weigh more that all the hard things.

I now know what I’m able to do.

I know how to solve special problems now, and how long things will take me. I know how much rest I need and when I’m able to work like a perpetuum mobile.

If you stayed with me this far and still don’t know what I’m talking about, you better watch the film first, either in German or in English.

You want to add you thoughts? Great! Please make sure not to give any advise on how I may overcome my guilt and shame thingy. I’d much appreciate that. If you have similar experiences, just write them down in a comment. – This blog is a safe place and all about sharing.

14. July 2012 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , , | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. I have been following your work since I start my animation career, I admire your patience and I really enjoyed the blog and all the stories behind of everything you did with this short film. My favorite part of into the dark was the Blackfigure cut-out technique…so beautiful and nostalgic, the three-headed wolf – love that character – and the textures you made to all the short film was stunning.

    Thank you so much for share all your thoughts and experience behind this, you become an inspiration for me and my work… sometimes I think that my second name is procrastination but as you said me a few days ago: “There’s no thing like procrastination! You’re just interested in something else right now! ;)”

    Congratulations again Jessica!!

  2. Juliana, your comment nearly made me cry! I often hope that my work is inspiring as other people’s work is for me, but I’d never thought it could be like that!

    Thank you for being here and for telling me that my work resonates with you…

  3. Amen and “ditto” to all that you reflected on here, Jessica. I can say the same–except for the “whew, I did it part”

    These feels are perhaps universal.

    Congratulations, again!

  4. Shelley, I think you’re right: these feelings are probably universal. But I also think we sometimes forget why we do things, and this post may be a perfect reminder. ;)

    There will be the time when you’ll say, “whew, I did it”, too, and I look forward it excitedly!

  5. Congratulations on finishing! I shared Ins Dunkel with my wife, pausing it from time to time to point out things we liked and talk about them. A wonderful work of art! Inspired.

  6. Jon, thank you so much!

    – I’m glad you spent some time watching and discussing it. I hope it would be like this for people watching it!