The Final Touch was my senior project at Skidmore College, where I graduated in 2021 with a BA in Documentary Studies and a minor in Studio Art. The COVID-19 pandemic struck at the end of my junior year at Skidmore, forcing all of my classes online and beginning a period of intense anxiety in my life. Having formative experiences with illness and death, the pandemic brought these fears to the forefront of my mind and caused me a great deal of distress, like many others during this time. When it came time during my senior year to decide on a topic for my final project, I put out a call to death workers. I was fascinated with the idea that someone would choose to spend the entirety of their working life surrounded by death, the very thing my life had revolved around avoiding for the past year. Kristen responded to the call and once we spoke over Zoom I knew she was someone whose message I wanted to amplify with the film. 
I spent the rest of the school year transcribing our interview, writing a script, editing the audio, constructing puppets, animating the film, and doing sound design. It is truly a pandemic creation, in that it was born out of isolation. The entire piece was created either in my apartment or alone in the Skidmore studio. The class that critiqued it met online, my professors advised me over email and Zoom, and I did almost all of the work, save color correction, by myself. It is a fantastic document of not only Kristen's experience during this time, but my own. It served as a way to pick up this fear that I have, turn it around in my hands, and put it back down again. I hope that you are able to find meaning in it, too. 
-Claire Maske

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