“Herman’s quiet world is suddenly interrupted by something loud and stressful.” What is that noise? What is that feeling? Is it as big as it seems or are things not quite that bad?

Herman Brown is Feeling Down is a Royal College of Art graduation film by London-based animator Dan Castro. The short combines abstracted shapes with music and sound by composer Kenny Young to embody Herman’s anxiety and tumult. Via Short of the Week, Castro explains:

“I wanted to take the feelings of anxiety I was having and try and deal with them in a bright and colourful way, a way that kind of embraced them for what they are, and what they really felt like to me.”



He also played and experimented with the film’s abstract visuals:

“As the film was animated primarily in After Effects in a sort of unrigged, cut-up style, it meant I could work very quickly and test things out and see how I felt about them. But this process took a long time to develop a structure, and when I was stressing out about it I decided to blow off some steam and try something new, experimenting with traditional 35mm scratch animation – painting inks directly onto 35mm film, using bleach to remove the chemicals on it, all sorts.

This required very little planning – I allowed myself to just roll with it and see what happened. That’s how the stress-jazzy bits were made – it was actually the most relaxing and fun part of the process!”


The ink-on-film technique is also reminiscent of some of our favorite animations: Boogie Doodle (1948), Pen Point Percussion (1951) and Dots (1940), three films featuring the pioneering work of Scottish Canadian animator Norman McLaren.

We also recommend Osvaldo Cavandoli’s La Linea, the Chuck Jones-directed short The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1965), The 30 Dots Collection, and Geometry of Circles.

Bonus: How to change anxiety into excitement.

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