November 11, 2014
Student's thesis project shares her personal experience
By Julie Troha
Discouraging misperceptions often surround Asperger syndrome, a neurobehavioral condition on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. That’s why Rachel Lamping ’14 dedicated her BFA thesis project at CIA to creating “Different Not Less,” a short animated film about her experience growing up with the condition.
This fall, Lamping’s 2D animation won first place and the audience favorite award at the California International Animation Festival. It was also featured at the Awareness Festival in Santa Monica, California, and at the Kansas International Film Festival.
The four-minute film highlights Lamping’s own struggles and successes with AS, which she characterizes as “an intense passion for a specific subject while lacking inborn social skills.” Using narrative taken from an interview with her counselor, Lamping created family-friendly animations that explain the condition’s challenges – and gifts – in a frank and positive tone.
In one scene, a young Lamping devours cartoons, “completely immersed into another fantasy.” She is determined to become an animator and never wavers from her goal. In another scene, her character talks endlessly about animation without noticing a friend’s social cues of boredom with the subject. “The use of animation allows for appealing visual portrayals of Asperger syndrome while keeping the narrative accurate and truthful,” said Lamping on her website.
“It took a great deal of courage to create a film that describes her own personal struggles with Asperger syndrome,” said Anthony Scalmato ’07, chair of CIA’s Animation Department. “Rachel is a very gifted animator and one of the most honest and caring students I've had the pleasure to work with. I hope that she continues to share her film with schools, hospitals, and film festivals to help others better understand the challenges of living with Asperger.”
Her thesis explains that she hopes the film will “provide an inspiring, positive message about Asperger at a time when false perceptions and negative experiences have long misled or discouraged those affected by it.” With this initial tour, she’s off to a good start.
For a closer look at Lamping’s work, view "Different Not Less" on YouTube.
Above: a still from "Different Not Less."
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