Laura Stewart is a stop motion animator working in Montreal, Canada. With an interest in filmmaking, Stewart leaned into her introverted ways and settled on animation as the best way to “make films without ever having to really deal with other people”.
Stop motion furthered this goal of solitude, but the fact it’s physical work appealed to her. “From creating props and puppets, to the lighting and actual animation, it’s all real. I’m not stuck staring at a computer all day,” she says.
These days, Stewart typically works freelance as a hired stop motion animator working on commercial work or short films, and most recently she worked with Clyde Henry Productions on their upcoming short with the Nation Film Board. “If I could just alternate animating on weird short films and directing my own I would be very happy,” she says. “I haven’t quite figured out how to get people to give me money to make my own shorts yet though.”
Despite this, her latest labour of love is Eat Your Carrots, a three-minute short that’s about a girl who finds an eyeball growing on her arm. The idea first came to Stewart during one of the various lockdowns at the height of the pandemic. Her paid work had been postponed or cancelled and it gave her some time. “I wanted to make a short film that was feasible to create by myself in my apartment using mostly leftover materials from previous projects,” Stewart tells CR.
“I consulted my little list of ideas I keep in my phone and found the one that best suited those parameters. Honestly, the beginning of the idea was something I wrote down while a little bit stoned in the bathtub. It said: ‘There is an eyeball growing on your arm. You can’t see out of it. What do you do?’”
With a clear head, Stewart took the idea and fleshed out a narrative that made sense and then created an animatic to get a sense of timing, before getting to work building everything. “The whole project was drawn out over about a year and a half, but the animation itself took me about three months of intense work,” she says.
Eat Your Carrots is the second film the animator has directed outside of school and it’s the first film where she’s done exactly what she wanted to do without worrying about what she thought people would want to see. “I don’t really need my films to have a deep meaning, though it’s great when people find those in my work,” she says. “I absolutely love hearing what people think my films are about.”
The biggest hurdle during the making of the short was choreographing a dance scene that occurs halfway through. “I scoured TikTok for cool dance moves but ultimately just ended up filming myself flailing about and cutting it together to the dance sequence you see in the film,” she explains. “I gave myself the challenge of only using dance moves that kept at least one foot on the ground at all times so I could avoid having to rig up my characters.”
Eat Your Carrots is a surreal, beautifully-crafted trip and achieves a great balance between creepy and funny. The project also reminded Stewart of why stop motion works for her. “It’s a good outlet for my strange ideas, and I really like making people laugh,” she reflects. “It’s also incredibly satisfying to bring puppets to life.”