Every great film starts with a great idea. But where do these ideas come from? What sparks that flash of brilliance? For some, inspiration comes from our culture and society, or our own experiences – by observing the mundane minutiae of everyday life and transforming it into something original. For others, all it takes is a hot bath and a joint. You can probably guess which was the case with Laura Stewart’s Eat Your Carrots…
Created when the pandemic put all of her client work on hold, Stewart’s delightfully trippy stop-motion animation is a breath of fresh air. The Canadian director and self-professed small things enthusiast created the puppets using materials left over from previous projects and shot the entire animation in her spare room. Whilst it might not be the most profound or complex story, it’s one that, thanks to its dynamic and charming characters and twisted humour tinged with melancholy, inspires personal interpretation and is guaranteed to give you the giggles.
We’re all familiar with the magical powers of the almighty carrot – a vegetable that can lower your blood pressure, make you see in the dark and even turn your skin yellow. But having too many carrots can apparently also result in the growth of an extra eye. Or at least it does for the main character in Eat Your Carrots – a woman who, whilst watching TV and munching on a healthy snack looks down at her arm only to discover that it’s looking straight back at her… What follows are 3 minutes of hilarious weirdness that I don’t want to spoil for you, but rest assured that you’re in for a fun ride.
When we asked Stewart the burning question – where on Earth did she get the idea for the film, the director confessed: “Honestly, I was a little bit stoned and in the bathtub and thought to myself ‘What if there was an eyeball growing out of your arm that you couldn’t see out of? What would you do?’ I wrote that down in my little list of ideas in my phone and came back to it with a clear head and ran with it.”
Stewart used needle felted puppets with wire armatures and shot them in a set dressed with small versions of her own living room furniture. To get some of the more complicated movements right, she filmed herself dancing and used the videos for reference when animating, resulting in one of the funniest and my absolute favourite scenes of the short. I highly recommend watching the original clips here.
Full disclaimer – I have no evidence suggesting that what I think the film is about is in fact correct. I’d even go as far as to say that I’m pretty sure that the film is NOT about what I think it’s about but Eat Your Carrots, just like any great work of art, is subjective and will likely have a different meaning to different viewers. To me though, the film spoke about our relationship with our bodies and more pointedly, with our flaws. The way that the lead was initially repulsed by her newly grown sensory organ, only to later embrace it because it was a part of her, reminded me of my own body-related struggles and got me hooked from the very first scene.
There’s also a note of sadness or nostalgia, barely audible under the higher pitched layers of silliness and hilarity. Perhaps Stewart was channeling her feelings of loneliness and isolation during lockdown, or perhaps I am drawing memories of my own, but this delicate balance of humour and melancholy gives weight to what would’ve otherwise been just a fun animation. Eat Your Carrots renders its tiny ecosystem with such earnest affection that you can’t help but be charmed by it. And therein lies its pulling power, making it utterly irresistible and totally addictive.