Originally when I started thinking about Klaus’ character, I wanted to follow the idea of a ‘soft boi,’ characterised mainly by the instagram page @beam_me_up_softboi. A soft boi, according to a Metro article, is likely to listen to Tame Impala, smoke weed, tell you you’re different from the other girls, and call himself a feminist . I particularly enjoyed reading the line “a softboy will almost make you like the idea of a f***boy. At least you won’t have to listen to him banging on about how he liked Arctic Monkeys before everyone else and asking if he can sketch you naked for his portfolio.” We all know someone like this, or have likely heard of someone like this, but then I started thinking about what I wanted Klaus to represent other than a stereotyped internet meme. When we look at men and the way they behave, particularly when online dating, we are given insight into how they have been socialised to behave, and if they are attracted to women, how they feel it is acceptable to treat them. But equally, we can see how society expects men to behave and handle their emotions. On the surface, I wanted Klaus to appear as a soft boi in his university room, surrounded by the token vinyls; the vintage clothing; the Mandela tapestry; smoking until his room is foggy. But I wanted to explore why he would be doing this, and appeal to his humanity, rather than he assumption of how he presents himself. It would be unfair to do otherwise, considering the context of the other characters in the film. Since coming to university, I have met many people like Klaus – he is very art school – but I know many men who fit into his stereotype that suffer from depression and/or anxiety, and some use smoking habits to soothe themselves. According to the BBC, in the UK “suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45,” and studies have shown that mental health issues from studying at universities are sky rocketing. In 2019, The Guardian published the article “’The way universities are run is making us ill’: inside the student mental health crisis,” stating that in 2017, the rate of suicide for university students in England and Wales was “4.5 deaths per 100,000 students, which equates to 95 suicides or about one death every four days.” Men aren’t socialised to be emotionally vulnerable, often being told to ‘man up’ and disregard their feelings, leading them to not speak openly about their struggles, or seek help for them. Coupled with moving to university: a new place, new people, often the first time young adults have to look after themselves properly, mental health can decline fast. Often this means that they take matters into their own hands, isolate themselves and self medicate. Although the character Klaus started as a stereotype for soft bois, he became a response to how society teaches men to express themselves emotionally, and how this conditioning affects them and those surrounding them.

– Issy Stephens, Director


When I first watched Klaus’ animation, I immediately became excited by the creative sound opportunities. I made note of all the key moments (such as the floating yellow bubble, or the blinking eye on the tapestry) and brainstormed the different noises I could assign to them. Klaus also appeared to be a very zen character, so I made sure that the sound design and music matched his tone as to not distract him. I mainly worked with sounds from online libraries, but I also made a couple of my own recordings too. For example, I ‘worldised’ the music – a concept by Walter Murch in which I played the music through a speaker in my bedroom and recorded the sound so it fit the acoustics of Klaus’ room. Although subtle, the technique was useful as it makes it appear that the character is listening to the music, and that it’s not just a soundtrack placed on top. Certain sounds and effects were used in order to maintain a light and calm atmosphere. As Klaus inhaled more smoke, more interesting things happened in his room, so I included a delicate ‘shimmery’ sound effect to add a magical-like element. The sounds of coins are used for the floating star signs sequence, but it initially sounded too harsh. To rectify this, I made them more airy by playing around with the pitch, EQ, and reverb. Ultimately, this animation is Klaus’ experience, so I also made sure that he made sounds of his own. In a sense he is controlling the situation; the more he inhales and exhales, the more the cloud grows, and more extraordinary things occur. I used breathing sounds to remain a constant throughout this soundscape, to reaffirm that everything that is happening is linked to Klaus.

Klaus features “PARADIS” by Wintergatan. This track can be downloaded for free at www.wintergatan.net. Free license to use this track in your video can be downloaded at www.wintergatan.net.

– Sophia Owen Moulding, Sound Collaborator for Klaus


ISSY’s resources

  • Depression – Information and Support by Mind, 2019.

Mind is an organisation that “won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.” I have found their work very helpful in the past, and their page about depression is good as a basis understanding of what depression is, and the different types it can manifest in, for example SAD or Dysthymia. You can also find information about common symptoms, signs and how to get help diagnosing them, as well as emergency advice if you need.

Issy Stephens

This is a short film which describes itself as “Sufferers of depression will express their deep thoughts and mental wellbeing as this documentary aims to find internal emotions from the worlds fast-growing mental illness, which affects one in five people.” It is a dark and harrowing watch, but sheds light on the feelings of those dealing with mental illness, providing you with more perspective of how they might feel.

Issy Stephens

You’re stuck in this state of mind where you don’t want people to see you like that.

Anonymous Interviewee

This article talks about the use of Psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) as a way to treat depression. It looks at several different peoples experiences using the drug, both in medical trial, in Psilocybin therapy and recreationally, looking at how it has effected their mental health and recovery. I wanted to put forward this alternative way of treating depression because it’s becoming increasingly popular, and is often introduced to young adults for the first time when leaving home, perhaps Klaus has experimented with it.

Issy Stephens

Psilocybin mushrooms have been part of religious rituals for thousands of years. The Aztecs of Mexico referred to the mushroom as teonanácatl, or “God’s flesh”, in homage to its believed sacred power. In 1957, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working for the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, isolated psilocybin from the mushroom. Fifteen years earlier, he had accidentally ingested LSD, left work feeling dizzy, and experienced its psychedelic effects when he got home. During the 1960s, Sandoz sold psilocybin and LSD for research in medical trials, but the substances were soon outlawed after they became associated with the 60s counterculture.

Josh Jacobs

Even psilocybin’s fiercest proponents agree that it will take more evidence of its effectiveness on larger groups in controlled settings, and investigation into potential adverse effects, before it can be unleashed as a medicine. Current trials exclude people with a family history of psychosis for fear that the drug could trigger latent schizophrenia.

Josh Jacobs

This article looks at how universities are causing more mental health issues than ever, and provides the fats for it. It talks about how the confusion about what university is for, since its prices rising, the pressure to enjoy university as the ‘best years if your life,’ and gearing yourself up for the ‘real world,’ many people find it “can be a joyless environment.” It’s an interesting, if not disheartening read about the current university and social climate.

Issy Stephens

In search of a cause for the dramatic increase in mental health problems among young people, studies have looked at the impact of social media, or lack of sleep caused by electronic devices, as well as the effects of an uncertain job market, personal debt and constricted public services. In his book Kids These Days: The Making of Millennials, Malcolm Harris argues that far from the stereotype of young people being entitled and narcissistic, millennials are harder working but poorer than their parents’ generation. Harris identifies the pressures of the labour market, rising student debt and a target-driven culture as contributing to steep increases in anxiety and depression among young people. “Young people feel – reasonably accurately – less in control of their lives than ever before,” he writes.

Samira Shackle

COMMUNITY FOUND resources on/for depression

Amongst other topics, Blindboy focuses on mental health in his podcasts. His podcast can be used a source of help for people struggling with anxiety and depression.

Lewis Lenk

Resource submitted by Lewis Lenk

  • Calm – Meditation App

This is not necessarily something I use to cope with depression but to cope with anxiety (which for me is often a trigger for a depressive episode). I only recently started using the Calm app to do their daily course called “How to Meditate”. It’s only about 10 minutes every day of guided meditation and there is no problem if you miss a day or do two in one, there’s absolutely no pressure. I have found it really helpful in dealing with stress and anxiety and processing suppressed emotions. I often have revelations half-way through my meditation and realise something I want to discuss further in therapy. Even if you don’t personally struggle with mental health problems, meditation can be so beneficial – taking 10 minutes out of your day to simply exist and breath and accept that it’s okay to sit and do absolutely nothing to help improve your mental state.

Arianna Stapley

Resource submitted by Arianna Stapley


  • Plants

This is not necessarily a resource but just something I wanted to add. I have a lot of houseplants (probably too many), but looking after them every day or every other day or even just once a week has been really beneficial for me. Similarly to meditation, taking a small amount of time out to do something relaxing and not working or stressing is really good. I love watching them grow and get so excited when they get new leaves or come back from the point of death thanks to my care. It is a very rewarding experience. Sometimes they do die and that’s okay. While living in a city and spending so much time on computers and phones I find having plants around and getting your hands covered in dirt or pruning the leaves is a really great way to return to nature and can be so therapeutic.

Arianna Stapley

Resource submitted by Arianna Stapley

The main thing to keep in mind with this is that it doesn’t have to be about meditation (not everyone is into it, after all). Instead it’s about the ways of thinking and retraining yourself so you can step back from the situation you find yourself in – and stop ruminating about it endlessly.

Emma Cox

Resource submitted by Emma Cox


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