A cigarette break turning into a bizarre nightmare

Project of the Month: In One Drag


It is late at night. A man steps out of a building and hectically lights a cigarette. He smokes it in a deep puff and then flicks it away without a second thought. In fact, everything as usual.

Then suddenly all the cigarette butts in town come to life...




In his diploma project In One Drag, Alireza Hashempour focuses on a smoker who, driven by nicotine addiction, wants to take a quick cigarette break. He is hoping for relaxation - but things turn out quite differently. The mass of cigarette butts lying around him comes to life thanks to stop-motion technique. Relaxing inhalation quickly turns into his last breath and eventually into the high pleasure of a living cigarette monster.


The elaborately produced film deals with the consequences of our everyday actions, shown here using the example of cigarette consumption. We are rarely aware that even small, supposedly unimportant actions, when taken together, can have a major impact on our society and can provoke far-reaching consequences, for our own health or the environment.


Director Alireza Hashempour on the development of In One Drag:

"I had the idea of animating a giant doll in a real world very early on. My diploma project was therefore a good opportunity to take on this challenge. When I started the project, there were hardly any references out there. How do you animate a five-meter high cigarette monster on the street? It was about time to find out!

Due to the lack of reference projects, we had to approach our goal step by step. In a first test phase, for example, we initially assembled a joint and a huge rig. Then we looked for a way to capture and animate the monster. At first, we thought it was simply impossible to move such a big rig properly, so we did not really start the project until after the successful animation test.

Another challenge we faced was the deliberate decision to do the film without visual effects (VFX). Therefore, we animated all effects in real life and thereby applied special effects (SFX). The project definitely did not always run as planned, so the learning curve in the end was huge. I think that everyone, from the animators to the actor, was able to pick up a lot during that project.



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