Knhik Haefner


This paper is about the construction and process of the MFA animation, Coattails & Paradise, a Stop-Motion animated musical about bodies and choices. This film was made over the final year of my MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I had the opportunity to make use of space, equipment and resources to make an animated film.

Coattails & Paradise is a film about bodies and souls and the choices we make that impact the experiences we have with our bodies and minds. The project was created as a musical where the sung plot points follow the main character, Magdalene, along her memories about her body and her mind. The film takes on a biblical allegory, returning to the first place where bodies and minds became unified in the human creatures we are today: the Garden of Eden.

The film is a triumph of separate elements, with complete silicone puppets fabricated from 3D printing, a theatrical space of flat prop and set elements, a stage which transitions along with the plot, and a story that takes a specific character along her journey about her feelings of detachment between body and mind. The musical nature of the piece helps break down the story beats song by song. The result is a film about heavily considered bodies. Stop-motion was the natural medium for this film about bodies animated without minds and minds remembering the textile nature of their lives. The theatrical setting serves as a reminder that this is a film and fiction: the set and the space are as constructed by the actors as they are for the film.

Coattails & Paradise is a film about bodies and happiness, about self image and representation. Framed as a musical, it takes beats from the style of musical theater, with key parts of establishing dialogue, character introduction and development and resolution defined by separate songs within the narrative. In dealing with bodies and choice and happiness, Coattails & Paradise uses biblical themes in the musical narrative, as the main character, Magdalene, journeys back to the garden of Eden while she is on a path of self discovery.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Animated films--Themes, motives; Animation (Cinematography); Stop-motion animation films; Human body in motion pictures; Mind and body

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Film and Animation (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Film and Animation (CIAS)


Tom Gasek

Advisor/Committee Member

Brian Larson

Advisor/Committee Member

Mark Reisch


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes