Rooms by Andrew Zimbelman

Rooms is a dark yet delightful short film by New York-based director, designer, and animator Andrew Zimbelman based on the poem by Billy Collins.

Andrew on his inspiration for making the film:

“After reading Rooms by Billy Collins I was immediately captivated by the poem. Billy’s ability to blend humor with a thoughtful meditation on mortality resonated with me and my personal struggles with anxiety.

His words brought back those moments when external circumstances left me ruminating my untimely and helpless demise to an almost comic degree. I quickly realized that a short animated film would be the perfect medium to explore the poem’s physical and psychological spaces.

The project developed slowly over the following months until I had the privilege of meeting Billy Collins in a chance encounter at JFK Airport in New York City. We discussed my film concept while waiting for our departing flights and a few days later I emailed Billy to bring him into the creative process. After a couple big picture thoughts, Billy gave me his blessing to make the film. Since its completion, he assured me of his satisfaction.”

              “…..I admit I had my doubts, but you have done it, lad.  Brilliant!”
         -Billy Collins

On making the film:

“I used this project to experiment more, both from a visual and motion standpoint while still honoring the original poem in tone and feel.

The poem is quiet and meditative, existing predominantly within rooms which are shaped by the exterior weather. Windows became essential devices in heightening that relationship. Vibrating light spills across rooms to simultaneously reveal and conceal while creating lovely and startling abstract spaces. This abstraction helps heighten the Narrator’s distorted view of each room; a view which suddenly shifts once the weather clears. I moved away from showing the narrator much at all, instead his presence is felt in each room. This allows space for the viewer to walk in his shoes, cast his shadow, and think his thoughts.

I worked with Matt Stanfield to shape the sonic spaces of the film. By using natural physical sounds for the rooms and solely music for the exterior scenes we hoped to heighten the shift in the Narrator’s perspective. We also decided to use my own voice, reflecting my interpretation of the poem and retaining the honesty of my investment in the project. It also gives it a personal touch, which I hope in the end makes it feel more relatable.”


POEM: Billy Collins
PRODUCED BY: Andrew D. Zimbelman, Nathan Jew
NARRATION: Andrew D. Zimbelman
SOUND DESIGN & SCORE: Matt Stanfield
SPECIAL THANKS: Lauren McArthur, Mabel Zimbelman, Nathan Jew, Billy Collins, Andrea Jew, Nicole Salm Feddock

About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.


Eric Kreidler


Andrew Austin

Wonderful film! The controlled palette, textures, rhythm and transitions all convey a great progression.

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