Home » Blogs » The Creative Mind » Kristen Stewart on Directing Her Movie About Emotional Pain, and Being Highly Sensitive

Kristen Stewart on Directing Her Movie About Emotional Pain, and Being Highly Sensitive

Kristen Stewart - Certain Women Sundance Portraits

How do you portray strong emotions in art such as movies?

Actor Kristen Stewart took on that challenge in her short film ‘Come Swim’ shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 2017 and talks about how it evolved:

“It all started with one image. I really was obsessed with the idea of just getting one man sleeping on the bottom of the ocean, and I painted it and I wrote a million poems about it.

“The ways in which you completely aggrandize your own pain is something that I was interested in because if you’re not inside of that, it’s seemingly normal and mundane, but when you’re inside of it, it’s like you’re in a graphic novel.”

Those comments come from this video interview on her YouTube channel:


Artificial intelligence to reconfigure images

An article on the production notes an interesting imaging technology:

“In an effort to sidestep CGI, she employed ‘neural style transfer’, a type of artificial intelligence which reconfigures images, to transfer her painting to the filmed images during the opening and closing sequences of the movie.

“Timed with Come Swim‘s premiere at Sundance, the research paper ‘Bringing Impressionism to Life with Neural Style Transfer in Come Swim’ that Stewart co-authored with the film’s producer David Shapiro and Adobe research engineer Bhautik J Joshi detailing the A.I.’s methodology” was posted on the Cornell University library website.”

From Kristen Stewart On Her “Masochistic” Directorial Debut ‘Come Swim’ by Anthony D’Alessandro, Deadline Hollywood January 21, 2017.


A metaphorical rendering of a feeling

Another article notes “Come Swim” is “a 17-minute metaphorical rendering of a feeling, of the overwhelming oppression of heartbreak and grief. A man is submerged, literally, by water everywhere.”

Stewart describes the film as about “aggrandized pain” and says its imagery has haunted her for four years.

“You don’t realize when you’re trudging through that water, you feel so alone. We’ve all been there. But when you’re in it, you feel like you can’t participate in life.”

Hyper alert to her surroundings and her emotions

The article continues, “In many ways, ‘Come Swim’ reflects something essential about Stewart: she is hyper alert to her surroundings and her emotions.

“It’s a quality that has probably helped make her, in the eyes of many (particularly the French, who made her the first American actress to win a Cesar award for the Cannes entry “The Clouds of Sils Maria”) a performer of twitchy, alive sensitivity.

“I am so sensitive it drives me crazy,” says Stewart.

“It’s funny (that) the first movie I wanted to make was basically just a movie about somebody who is like, ‘You don’t get it! It’s horrible!'”

From Kristen Stewart makes her directorial debut, dives into grief, By Jake Coyle, Associated Press, May 21 2017, via ABC News.


Kristen StewartMany interviewers and writers over the years have described actor Kristen Stewart as “cautious” and “shy.”

At least one news story referred to her as a “Self-proclaimed introvert.”

Introversion – or shyness-related actions like “holding back” in interviews and public appearances (and ordinary conversation, for those of us who aren’t celebrities) can often lead to negative judgments and reactions from others – such as fans writing that she is aloof, a snob, obnoxious or rude.

Writer Sophia Dembling comments in a post on her Psychology Today blog The Introvert’s Corner:

“Introverts  tend to be, by nature, fairly mild-mannered. But that doesn’t mean we don’t silently – and sometimes not-so-silently – seethe.

“Look at poor Kristen Stewart, an introvert in the limelight…”

Read more in my article Kristen Stewart and shyness and sensitivity.


Kristen Stewart on Directing Her Movie About Emotional Pain, and Being Highly Sensitive

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
~ ~
Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
~ ~

Emotional Health Resources - Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Eby, D. (2017). Kristen Stewart on Directing Her Movie About Emotional Pain, and Being Highly Sensitive. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 May 2017
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.