Leigh Lahav enjoys doing two things; creating animated films and making people laugh. That’s the basis of her YouTube channel, OnlyLeigh. Though you don’t see her on her channel, she has a distinct animation style, comedic tone, and general essence that carries out in each of her films.
We asked Lahav all about her expertise in animations, how she develops her ideas, and what the process in creating an animated film is really like.
What was your dream job growing up?
In all honesty, I never had a dream job. I was part of a very creative household and studied art, music, and literature, but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. My biggest dream was to become an adult. I could never really settle on what it is I was doing. I was born in Manhattan but lived most of my life in Israel. As part of my career-identity-ambiguity, I went on to study animation as it gave me a chance to be a little bit of everything (actor, writer, illustrator, editor, director, sound designer and more).
What brought you out to LA?
Moving to LA seemed like a natural choice for an American passport holder who is interested in creating content. The months that are not July or August in LA are great.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue comedic storytelling and animations?
Being funny is the closest thing to world domination that you can imagine. Have you ever made a whole theatre laugh? Better than cocaine.
How long, on average, does it take you to create one of your films for your YouTube channel?
It varies from video to video. Depending on the length of video, number of characters, scenes and animation difficulty, it can range anywhere between a week and 1-2 months. Imagine animating all alone for 2 months. I would climb out of my prison cell, long beard and yellow teeth, blinded by the sun, desperate for human contact. Good times.
What challenges do you come across when creating an animation film?
The fact that I actually need to animate the film doesn’t help.
What was your thought process when uploading your first YouTube video?
A thousand years ago, YouTube was home to a lot of sketch comedy, so it seemed like a comfortable place to upload my animations. The possibilities was either that or Vimeo, and I’m not nearly fancy enough for Vimeo.
Your films often focus on pop-culture but with a comedic twist and mashup. What does that creative process look like and how do you develop your ideas?
I think up the silliest, nonsensical idea, wonder, “Wouldn’t it be stupid if that video actually existed?” and then make it. My thought process for making Fangirls was, “This is a sort of a funny sketch. I guess I’m going to have to animate that. I wish I studied film.”
As an animator, the “traditional” YouTube collaboration looks a bit different for you. How do you approach your collaborations?
Collaborations usually find me. HISHE approached me with the offer to create some themed videos for their channel, I like those guys a lot and thought it was a great idea.
Two years ago you premiered your short film, “A Stranger Things Christmas” at Buffer Festival. What can we expect from your premiere at Buffer Festival this year?
Not my own video this time, thank God. Less pressure. This time it’s all on Tim H. whom I helped make a premiering video. Break a leg, Tim!
Janine Maral is culture writer and content strategist. She enjoys podcasts, Notion, and internet communities.