Joanna Goldman | The History of the Graham Cracker

Joanna Goldman

During my maternity leave, I took on a fun project: creating an animated documentary called “The History of the Graham Cracker.” I had to work in short bursts of 1-2 hour (nap time!) sessions which posed a bit of a challenge, but it also kept me from getting too bogged down in the small details, which tends to happen with personal projects.

The idea for this short film sparked when I stumbled upon a Wikipedia article diving into the wild backstory of the graham cracker. It got me hyped to visually bring its history to life. I teamed up with my good friend, Jessie Lowenfeld, who’s a whiz at writing and editing, to help shape the story.

I toyed around with different visual styles until I settled on the collage look. The style involved hunting down photos of mannequins wearing clothing from Graham’s era and giving them my own spin with bold colors layered on the black and white photo.

For the unfolding animation, I initially tried to do it just digitally, but ultimately I switched to stop-motion photography. It just felt more authentic to physically unfold printed copies of the characters and objects.I rigged up a super budget-friendly setup with just my phone, a cheap tripod, a piece of white cardboard, and good ol’ sunlight.

Worked like a charm! The cauldron scene was its own challenge. I ended up modelling and animating it in 3D, bringing it into photoshop to give it the same treatment as the other elements, and finally incorporating it in 2D with the rest. Looking back, it was a blast breaking down a captivating story, squeezing it into a bite-sized animation, and getting creative with the art direction and animation styles.