Kirsten Lepore
Animation

An Interview with Kirsten Lepore

A year or so ago, a stranger appeared on the Internet that captured the imaginations and touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. Do you recognize this face? The hands that carefully sculpted every curve of that little slice of heaven belong to acclaimed animator/director, Kirsten Lepore, known for incredible stop-motion animated films “Bottle” and “Move Mountain”, as well as an iconic episode of Adventure Time, “Bad Jubies”. After including her most recent film, “Hi Stranger”, in our 2017 Booooooom TV Awards, I was excited to catch up with the creator of the unsettlingly smooth naked little humanoid that was stuck in my brain for months.

Jeff Hamada: It’s kinda crazy that it’s been six years since I interviewed you the first time! Back then you talked about you wanting to do music videos but you still haven’t done one! What’s the deal?

Kirsten Lepore: Bahh! Wow six years? I know, I know, haven’t done a music vid yet, BUT I have pitched on a few within the past two years. So far no one wants to take a chance on my weird ideas, haha. Maybe I need to find some weirder musicians…

Kirsten Lepore
Kirsten Lepore
Rare studio shot
Rare studio shot

Jeff Hamada: If you had to jump on a plane tonight and could only fit 3 albums on your phone, which ones would they be?

Kirsten Lepore: Hmmm, probably a mix of old and new favs: Solange “A Seat at the Table” comes to mind – I still can’t get enough of it. Thundercat “Drunk” – just so phenomenal, and I’d probably also take of Montreal’s “Hissing Fauna are you the Destroyer” which just popped back into my consciousness an hour ago (and is one of my all time favs from my college days). I’d probably also sneak on that Wajatta track “Runnin” too, cuz I’m obsesssssed.

A post shared by Kirsten Lepore (@kirstenlepore) on

Jeff Hamada: What’s it like being married to one of the Dans from the Daniels? Or are you technically married to both of them?

Kirsten Lepore: It’s the best! Dan and I are pretty boring when we’re not working – we just eat, drink, & chill on the couch mostly – real married people stuff. Sometimes it does feel like I’m married to both, since “other Daniel” is always over the house (they share an office in our house) and I often cook lunch for both of them. It probably doesn’t help that Stef (Daniel’s partner) and I refer to each other as “sister wives” and go on romantic vacations together when the boys are shooting. But in all seriousness, it’s wonderful! They’re both some of my best friends – I love them so much!

Jeff Hamada: Would you guys ever officially collaborate on something or do you have a rule against something like that?

Kirsten Lepore: I think we’re both open to it for the right project. Although Dan and I tried to collaborate on a children’s show pitch once, and it lasted all of 30 mins once we quickly realized our aesthetic sensibilities are extremely different. I’m a minimalist and he’s definitely more maximalist.

Kirsten Lepore speaking at Blend Fest in Vancouver (2015)
Kirsten Lepore speaking at Blend Fest in Vancouver (2015)

Jeff Hamada: When I watched “Hi Stranger” for the first time it instantly brought back memories of when you and I were speakers at Blend Fest, back in 2015. Your talk kinda had a similar vibe! Do you remember what you said?

Kirsten Lepore: Ahh that’s so awesome! I just remember I only had a 20-minute time slot so I skipped most of the technical stuff I normally talk about and instead focused on how animation is hard, how artists shouldn’t beat themselves up and how meditation and therapy is cool. Definitely sounds exactly like the plot line for “Hi Stranger”, now that I think about it, hah. What else did I say? Did I show everyone my butt? I blacked out…

Jeff Hamada: Haha! I feel like you did a million interviews about the film, tell me something about it that no one else knows! I want an exclusive (a year after the fact).

Behind the scenes:
Behind the scenes: "Hi Stranger" by Kirsten Lepore

Kirsten Lepore: Best questions! Seriously! I’m trying to think – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that (like almost every other films I’ve made) I almost didn’t make this one because I didn’t think I would have enough time to finish for the deadline. Dan and I had a conversation in the car on the way to pick up our marriage certificate where I was being really lazy and unambitious and was going to shelve it, until Dan sort of called me out on my laziness (in an encouraging way). Without that convo I wouldn’t have made it, and wow, am I glad I did.

Jeff Hamada: I know you’re a big Chris Cunningham fan, how do you feel about creating something that could be considered this generations “Windowlicker”?

Kirsten Lepore: That would be a dream come true, but I don’t know what could ever be comparable to “Windowlicker”! It’s just so impressive on so many levels. I’d love to do more eccentric stuff though for sure. I feel like “Hi Stranger” was the first real bridge between the type of work people know me for and the weirder stuff that I really want to be making.

Kirsten Lepore's
Kirsten Lepore's Halloween costume
Aphex Twin —
Aphex Twin — "Windowlicker" (Single Cover)

Jeff Hamada: They’re very different but I feel like images from both “Windowlicker” and “Hi Stranger” will now live in the same part of my brain (forever). Have you seen THIS MAN? That’s in there, too.

Kirsten Lepore: Hahaha I think I’ve come across this image online a year or two ago. I haven’t dreamt him yet but maybe he’ll visit me tonight?

Jeff Hamada: Are you allowed to talk about what you’re working on now?

Kirsten Lepore: Well, I just finished building a deck in my backyard, so pretty proud of that. Animation-wise, I still can’t publicly announce the movie I’m animation directing yet, but it’s going to be exciting! I also have a few small things coming out here and there that I’ll post online once they air.

Jeff Hamada: Can’t wait to hear more! Can we end this with a few shoutouts to people who are really inspiring you these days?

Kirsten Lepore: Shoutout to @RespectfulMemes, @Beeple, all the people who work on Reply All, Jon Ronson, Adi Goodrich, Ron Nagle… too many to name :)

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