In this charming animation, a small swimmer dives right into her fears
In a charming animation about facing your fears called 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 comes 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.