Watch “Bottle,” an Award-Winning Stop Motion Animated Tale of Transoceanic Correspondence

When I was in high school, my boyfriend showed me a film he had shot with his dad’s Super 8. It fea­tured a pair of golf clubs escap­ing from the garage and hus­tling down the dri­ve­way. I was bedaz­zled by his tech­nique, and amazed that that’s how he spent his week­ends before he met me.

I thought of those films the oth­er day on a tour of Cal Arts with a prospec­tive stu­dent. As part of ori­en­ta­tion, our group was shown “Bot­tle,” an award-win­ning stop motion short cre­at­ed when writer-direc­tor Kirsten Lep­ore was a grad stu­dent in the exper­i­men­tal ani­ma­tion pro­gram. 

In the minute or so it took our guide to remem­ber how to turn the sound on, I was actu­al­ly dread­ing it. I like nar­ra­tive. Fun­ny. Made­line Sharafi­an’s flat ani­ma­tion “Omelette,” which we were shown before “Bot­tle” as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the sort of work going on in the famed Char­ac­ter Ani­ma­tion depart­ment, deliv­ered on both counts.

Exper­i­men­tal, though? I pic­tured a Dali-esque com­put­er gen­er­at­ed land­scaped star­ring an anony­mous ball, and longed for Scot­t’s dad’s golf clubs. They had so much per­son­al­i­ty.

I am delight­ed to report that those clubs could­n’t hold a can­dle to the cast you will meet above. I don’t want to spoil any sur­pris­es. Suf­fice it to say that the fin­ished prod­uct involves sand, snow, the ocean, flot­sam, jet­sam, a bot­tle, many miles, and many, many hours of labor. If that, com­bined with an utter­ly charm­ing sto­ry­line, adds up to exper­i­men­tal, then I am all for exper­i­men­ta­tion. My kid was ready to change her major after see­ing it, but maybe I am the one who needs to attend.

Watch the mak­ing of video below to get a feel for the sort of wringer Lep­ore put her­self and her crew through. Obvi­ous­ly not a week­end project.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hard­er Than It Looks: How to Make a Great Stop Motion Ani­ma­tion

Big Bang Big Boom: Graf­fi­ti Stop-Motion Ani­ma­tion Cre­ative­ly Depicts the Evo­lu­tion of Life

Watch The New Amer­i­ca, a Stop Motion Ani­ma­tion Star­ring 800+ Laser Engraved Wood Blocks

Ayun Hal­l­i­day’s golf clubs nev­er stopped run­ning. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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