Short of the Week

Once it Started it Could Not End Otherwise

The mysterious events at a 1970′s high school are revealed between the pages of an old yearbook in this animation from collage veteran, Kelly Sears.

Supported by the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund, Kelly Sears’ experimental animation Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise uncovers a pervasive sickness spreading deep in to the hearts of 1970′s American high schoolers. It’s an unsettling tale, delivered solely through title cards which sign post the escalating ills leading the disaffected teens on their path to self destruction.

The film is delivered in Sear’s signature collage animation style—a means of working brought about by her personal love of the texture of film and a desire to develop a working method that would allow her self-sufficiency—

I ask myself, ‘what can I pull off by myself with a computer, and a scanner, and a pile of dusty books?’ (29-95)

In the case of Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise this led to the repurposing of old yearbook pictures to deliver Sears’ measured story of disquiet. The atmosphere is greatly served by the soundtrack fluctuating as it does from drone to white noise with occasional machine noise punctuation. As with Sears’ slight animation moves, it favours subtly to deliver a tone of mounting foreboding; a restrained approach not too dissimilar to that taken by Gus Van Sant in Elephant, but with the added benefit of events not playing out to a pre-determined cataclysmic event.

Sears garnered much praise for her earlier space mission gone wrong short The Drift and following its Rooftop Films’ premiere in May, Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise looks bound to reach the same heights.


MarBelle has a strange compulsion to watch as many films as he can get his hands on and find jobs that give him a legitimate excuse to drill filmmakers about their work. Directors Notes is the latest incarnation of this disorder and so much cheaper than film school. Twitter: @MarBelle
  • Bronzelike

    “SorryThe creator of this video has not given you permission to embed it on this domain.

    This is a Vimeo Plus feature.”

  • Mike Rauch

    Play isn’t working. I think it has to be an SD embed instead of HD.

  • Hans J. Eiðisgarð

    google the name and you’ll find a link that works :)

  • Jason Sondhi

    Yup, thanks everybody for bringing this to our attention. Click the word Vimeo under the play button on the upper-right hand side and you can watch it on Vimeo’s site. We’re working with Rooftop to get the embed working now.

  • kellysears
  • Rooftop Films

    Dear Short of the Week: Thanks for the interest in the film. We love it, too. We authorized embedding on this site now, so feel free to post. Enjoy!

  • Jason Sondhi

    Thanks! Post is updated, will now spread it far and wide!

  • Jason Sondhi

    Thanks! Post is updated, will now spread it far and wide!

  • Lesley

    I found this disquieting and compelling.  Love the use of texture, flickering colour and hypnotic, inanimate sounds to raise the tension. It’s … creepy!

  • PinkyPie

    Help… (-.-;) *so confused*
    I am a 16 year old High School student, seeing this video makes me fear for my sanity in college, though its still awhile away, but anyway, im not sure i understand this…

    Maybe its because im young? Anyway please tell me the plot so i can understand this a bit better. I get that this was supposed to be a cliffy but is it a true story?
    And what happened to those kids in the short? And why did everyone look so scared? 

    That’s what i wanted to ask, i just dont get this… sorry :(  

  • Midnafan

    I get that this is more for arts sake than plot but it is superduper confusing. please explain.