When I was a hopeless romantic attending college in DC (i.e. a loser), I often would imagine meeting my soulmate on the subway. We’d lock eyes from across the car. Music—that only we could hear—would play. And, then, we would start a Linklater-esque dialogue about books, movies, and art. It would be the ultimate meet cute between myself and the shy girl of my dreams.
While my far-fetched fantasy never actually became a reality, I’m glad that filmmaker and animator, Eugene Kolb had more success with a similar scenario. Simple and sweet, his live action and animation hybrid, A Subway Story, feels like romantic wish fulfillment. It’s a deeply personal story wherein two people recount how they met on the NYC subway several years prior. While not narratively complex, it’s the kind of film that just feels charming: the perfect 5 minute watch to put you in a good mood. It’s all the more sweet that it’s based on actual events.
Kolb had been attempting to adapt his real-life meet cute into a film for a few years before stumbling across the simple narrative structure and pleasing visual delivery shown here. Communicating with Short of the Week, he goes deeper into the film’s creative process:
“It started with a lengthy interview where we tried to piece together the story as it had happened. Then I edited the audio, added music and started adding simple drawings, similar to the ones I was used to drawing on the subway. The text and drawings were drawn by hand in 3-4 iterations to create the jitter effect. Then I scanned everything in, and finished in After Effects and Premiere.”
Premiering at Tribeca in 2016, A Subway Story is a real crowd pleaser—a joy for all you romantics out there. Kolb is currently editing his second short, an experimental film called Numb Thumb about a sculptor who loses her sense of touch. It’s a mix of live-action and stop-motion. If you’re curious, you can check out work-in-progress stills here: