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WATCH: ‘Lovestreams’ by Sean Buckelew released online

// Featured, Independent Animation, Interviews, News

Today sees the standalone online release of award-winning animator Sean Buckelew‘s short film Lovestreams. The film, which can be watched in full below, was originally conceived and produced as part of the second Late Night Work Club anthology film Strangers, released last year. Premiering on Short of the Week, the release is also accompanied by a comprehensive ‘making-of’ blog post penned by Sean.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen or met? Lovestreams is a confessionary tale of two strangers in an online chat room one lonely night in 2002; a love story from the early days of the Internet. Passing through a mysterious portal and arriving at a ballroom masquerade of morphing avatars where they can be whoever they choose, the net-cross’d lovers get to spend one magical night together before the real world comes crashing back in.

Having received an MFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sean has since worked on projects including We Are Your Friends, Consuming Spirits and the Annie Award-winning animated sequences of He Named Me Malala. Alongside his independent films he has worked with clients including Disney Channel, MTV, Arctic Monkeys, VH1 and Adult Swim.

Painstakingly recreating and hand-animating the interfaces of a bygone tech era, the film aims to perfectly capture the visceral emotional quality of chatting online and falling in love. It was born from an interest in the identity politics of the early Internet, with a nostalgic longing for a time when people were playful and mysterious with how they presented themselves online. In this nascent state of Internet interactions, these kinds of relationships were both intensely honest and emotional, but also disconnected and difficult to reconcile with the real world, in spite of their ubiquity. The film attempts to shine a light on how special these relationships were, and how unique their position in technological history.

The film, having screened internationally at Late Night Work Club screening events as well as festivals (with upcoming screenings including Animafest Zagreb and Anima Mundi), was animated over the course of two years and produced completely independently by Sean between his commercial projects. Coincidentally this week’s release is also that of the 20th anniversary of chat application AOL Instant Messenger, from which the film took its sole inspiration.

To learn more about the film and the Late Night Work Club, have a listen to our Independent Animation podcast featuring Sean Buckelew alongside fellow Strangers contributors Kirsten Lepore, Alex Grigg, Jeanette Bonds, Nicolas Ménard, Charles Huettner and Loup Blaster (stream below or direct download):

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