Phillip Van and Method Studios: “And She Stares Longingly At What She Has Lost”


I don’t often get tingles from the work posted here, but this new short film directed by Phillip Van had my entire body covered in goosebumps.

“And She Stares Longingly At What She Has Lostâ€? is one part of a five-part exquisite corpse project launched by Little Minx partnered with RSA Films. In addition to Van, four other directors—Chris Nelson, Malik Hassan Sayeed, Josh Miller, and Laurent Briet—responded to the last line of text of the previous director’s script.

Using a script as the creative baton is an interesting approach to creating an exquisite corpse. The result is a set of high-end short films that share an ephemeral thread—a conceptual rather than visual commonality.

As always, Method nailed the visuals and brought Van’s ideas to life in exquisite detail. The balance between fantasy and hyper-reality is one of the things that makes this piece tick. Each image is so charged with symbolic and emotional content.

Some technical bits from the release:

“Phillip had this idea of a man made out of water, someone who is not quite there,â€? says Caudron, Lead 2D VFX Artist on the project. “It was essential that he be a palpable presence, but also that he seem otherworldly. It was quite a challenge to appropriately balance the real and surreal worlds.â€?

To nail down a realistic image, the animation team scanned the real life actor into a 3D model, which gave them the man’s complete geometry with which to work:

“The 3D model was a huge help,â€? says Caudron. “We were able to apply all our lighting and water effects in a series of layers. The character ended up being very layer-heavy, but it sped things up considerably.â€?

In creating the gnarled and twisted forest that represents the hardships of life, Boyd was reticent at first, but quickly enthused by the challenge:

“Forest scenes are notoriously difficult to render, due to all the detail,â€? he explains. “We got so into this project, however, that we started looking for new ways to work and new things to learn. Almost everything was shot against bluescreen, with just a few plants and shrubs around the set, so it was up to us to create the forest. To render the entire thing, I used a system called ‘delayed reads.’ With the geometry of one 3D tree, we were able to have the system procedurally create unique trees at render time. While 3D trees are typically so dense in information that you can’t have more than one open at a time, we were able to render out 100 or so each time. It was tremendously helpful.â€?

Full credits

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



“Each image is so charged with symbolic and emotional content.”

Cliche #1. Little girl in forest surrounded by woodland creatures

Cliche #2. Loss of innocence symbolised by dark ominous adult

Cliche #3 Bored housewife unhappy with nerdy, secure, providing husband who finds her self emotionally stiffled by choosing material comfort over love and passion.

Cliche #4 It’s all in her mind!


The shot with the little girl surrounded by skulls does make for a powerful visual. Something out of Pans Labyrinth, in fact this little short feels like it owes a lot to that film.

Marc B.

“my entire body covered in goosebumps.”

Aww, thats so cute justin.

I agree with tits. Some nice imagery from method but it’s just too cliche ridden.


Gee Whizz, have Americans not developed at all since the 1950’s?
Ths is first rate tosh, tits and marc.b are being charitable.


nicely paced and a polished short – may be cliched but then the script is, and i think the team did an excellent job bringing it to life.


I like the effects, the shots, the surreal like effect. But then its full of cliches. And some of the scenes are down right corny…


though i feel like it suffers a little by being so 110% polished-looking (overly competent professional hair/makeup and the too-gorgeous cinematography of an A+ hollywood dp), i thought that was excellent, particularly in its tone and pacing/edit.

and people should keep in mind that clichés are often actually just purposely placed archetypes that have been mislabeled as such.


um, weird.. in all the wrong ways, and that’s wack.


Anyone who saw The Brown Bunny flick will remember that song by Jeff Alexander.

The best thing I saw here.

Never surrender yr heart so easily!


While this is a well executed piece, I can’t appreciate it entirely. There are too many elements taken directly from other directors and artists. Somebody already mentioned about Pans Labyrinth resemblances.

The aspect that bothers me the most is the copy paste involved with some content not as mainstream as Guillermo del Toro’s movie.

One example is the screen grab used for this article, from the last part of this short film. I remember seeing the “same” picture a few years ago. I found it again on the artist’s website

See it yourself…
This animation is full of these.
I will post the other similarities once I find the pictures.


@Steff says

What art is all about other than conversation between artists?
Next you will say that Francis Bacon is a Clone of Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez and Picasso.

The interesting thing here is that � while made for � [I guess] that song, the two fight each other.

Reason why I love Takeshi Kitano’s movies, a good director needs no music to achieve a thing.
Yes music is the Biggest cliché here


Christ, you guys make me want to puke. I suppose you’re all in your 20s. There is no hope.

This is a devastatingly beautiful and haunting piece of work. Familiar? Cliche?! Whatever. The cinematography and editing is pitch perfect. The casting. The post wprk. And the score! You’re criticizing the score?! That score?!! Shit, you wish. You freakin wish! Go ahead and do something better. Or even remotely close to this. Go ahead. Yeah, right. What a joke.



I love that song, reason why I got The Brown Bunny Sdtk.
I should have wrote music is the UNIQUE cliché, but only regarding the use of music in Hollywood to create ambient.
In fighting each other I mean the music reduces the work to something you´d expect to see on MTV.


well executed, the surprises… and I love the actress at the end…


Wow – i think a lot of you guys are way off base here and don’t pose well thought out arguments at all. After watching this short, I passed it along to many of my friends as I felt the same as Justin… this material really made me think! My friends came back with interpretations ranging from the woman having an abortion because her husband didn’t want the baby and he appears as the “water man” stealing her little girl away to a young girl getting molested as a child and her older self still revisiting that moment even in her adult life to a young girl simply losing her youth while her older self looks back on the lost innocence. There are so many interpretations to this film that it’s the opposite of a cliche. Now i’m not sure which one of those are correct, if any, but the fact that something like this can provoke such varying responses from the extremely negative to the extremely positive (as seen on this board!), i think it’s doing something for filmmaking that few people can do. You go ahead and sit here talking back and forth about cliches but why not start a conversation just a tad more intelligent? I think the work presented here deserves that.


wiremu – please don’t take your questionable taste out on americans.
tits and marc b, just because imagery is familiar, doesn’t make it cliche. I think it’s pretty clear that these guys know the tread nature of this imagery but are choosing to use it anyway. That’s the opposite of cliche, that’s bold.

There are more than enough hints of this. If you can’t find them, you should watch again. The film is self-aware. Without taking this into consideration, tits, your logic is myopic.

I can’t help but think that at the root of your comments, is the difference between and artist and a technician. This was made artfully: the film embraces imagery that works, even when it risks the obvious, and it finds a way to distinguish that imagery from what has come before.

I think just chasing after something “brand new” is a lot less original. That’s the kind of chase that churns out a lot of trendy technicians. And you may be members tits, marc b., wiremu, but not everyone wants to join that club.


I really liked this!! :) Just because something is archtypal does not mean its not creative. There is a powerful voice in this short, who clearly did a lot of research and took took a great deal of care with the subject matter.


Best Short of the series. Intelligent, rich with mood, unapologetically soulful.


If you want to see corny, you should click on these critics’ orange login names and go to some of their own pages. Sheesh.
For those of you who left criticism and don’t have linked pages, I’m sure that’s for the best – you’d do well to limit your creative output on the world. So, good work.


Hands down amazing. I agree, goosebumps and difficulty speaking. Really resonant in its use of stasis and a subtle yet deliberate pace. This one really got to the core of something and will stick with me for a long time.


Beautiful and really sad.
I haven’t seen that before – the watery complexion, not like that. It worked so well to suggest what he might be to her.


haunting – i watched it this morning, had to come back to watch again and leave a comment. i can’t stop thinking about it – it’s visual poetry.

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