Robert-Jonathan Koeyers (‘It’s Nice In Here’ writer-director) on animation’s ability to ’emphasize the fallibility of our memories’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It’s about how we tell stories about people who are no longer there to tell them,” argues writer and director Robert-Jonathan Koeyers about his new animated short film “It’s Nice In Here.” The film tells the story of a young Black teen named Crimson, who is gunned down by a police officer in a convenience store. The short examines the shooting from a multitude of perspectives, including the officer himself, and also looks at the way the media covers these incidents. In an exclusive video interview with Gold Derby (watch above), Koeyers talks about the genesis of the film and how animation can “emphasize the fallibility of our memories.”

The idea for “It’s Nice In Here” began as Koeyers was finishing his graduate thesis in Rotterdam. He began to notice that the characters he was drawing were predominantly white. “I started realizing, ‘Why am I not telling stories about people that look like me?” he recalls. At the same time, Koeyers was also seeing the rise in cases of Black people in America being shot by police officers. “I had so many feelings that I had to process in one way or another,” he says. “So that’s where I started writing a lot of the hurt that I was feeling.”

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Koeyers was especially interested in creating a film that avoided easy answers and provided a more “fragmented” view of these kinds of events. Nowhere is this more evident than in the movie’s depiction of the shooting itself, which is shown from multiple perspectives, causing the viewer to question what exactly is the truth. “We wanted to make it very abrasive and very hectic to have these narratives clashing against each other,” he explains. “That’s also what we see in real life. We catch glimpses of a person or fragments of something, but we don’t get to see the whole person of who they were or how they got there or what actually happened.”

When it comes to issues like officer-involved shootings, Koeyers sees the cyclical nature of both the issue and the way the media covers these incidents. “It’s definitely like this ebb and flow where it comes to our attention and then it dies down again,” he says. “As we were working on the film itself and the murder of George Floyd happened, it felt strangely like life imitating art. So it becomes almost predictable to see how the media is going to tell these stories and how fragmented these stories are.”

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