Kristen Yuan and Mild Kamolluck Niamkongkit
Kristen and Mild are recent graduates of Ringling College of Art and Design's Computer Animation program. Gaslight is their senior thesis and both their first films. Kristen is currently based in Los Angeles as a Story Artist for Netflix Animation. Mild is currently based in Bangkok as an Animation Arts Lecturer at King Mongkut Thonburi University, and an Art Director for EEZ Studios.
Girls, are you aware to what extent El's psychotic rampage made a lot of us' dreams come true? LOL
We are not, please tell us! For us, it’s certainly a dream come true to see a hot (literally) ex-girlfriend burn it all to the ground!
How did you come up with the idea to write about this aparently perfect-match couple?
Mild: It started as a simple class exercise for Kristen’s Storyboarding class Junior year of college. Her original pitch was a sentient cigarette that escaped its smoker and was on a mission to blow up the gas station. Our professor wasn’t very confident in the idea, so Kristen was languishing over what to do to spice up the story. We were roommates at the time, so I would try to help her solve story problems while doing chores in our dorm. While washing the dishes at 2 am one night, it hit me – addiction to smoking is like a toxic relationship; you try to quit multiple times but you always go back. Why not personify the cigarette character as the smoker’s girlfriend? We changed the cigarette to a lighter, and gave it a stronger personality – the trope of a crazy ex. And it felt like all the loose puzzle pieces Kristen had just came together!
Why did you choose the tango Por una Cabeza to encompass your storytelling?
Kristen: Por una cabeza is one of my favriote pieces of music. I used to play viola in high school, so I listen to a lot of classical music and movie soundtracks when I work. While drawing the first version of Gaslight back in junior year, I was curious about what the storyboards would feel like if I played Por Una Cabeza over them. I knew instantly that it was the right song. The song just has so much passion and bite imbued into the melody, it’s the perfect theme song for El. Full of sorrow, betrayal, and, well – fire – Gaslight was made complete with Por Una Cabeza. The song’s different sections, going from calm to explosive, also informed how we paced our film.
Kristen, you were born and raised in Michigan to Chinese immigrants and Mild, you are a Bangkok native and went to the United States to study animation. Would you share with us under what circumstances the two of you met?
We lived on the same dorm floor during our freshman year of college. By junior year, we were very close friends and roommates, and we would often help each other solve writing problems for our Story class late at night in the dorm. We would spend hours in passionate discussion, diving into character motivations and visual metaphors. At the end of the semester, we both realized we could turn our late-night homework discussions into a thesis partnership. We did a test run with a short assignment working as a duo, and it was a blast. The rest was history!