For the last eight years, I’ve taught “Story for Animators” at CalArts. It’s been a wonderful challenge for me, a fiction writer and instructor, to teach to animators, but the way I’ve looked at it is that story is story. My students have been teaching me, too, how to draw. The attached drawing is mine.
Last night, I attended the year-end CalArts character animation Producer's Show. Animation industry executives are invited to come see the top nearly thirty short films created by students during the last year, and the show always sells out. The top thirty shorts are based on votes by the faculty, who watch all 150 films submitted. There are strict rules. Freshmen, for instance, cannot create a piece over 90 seconds, and if they do, it will not be shown, with one exception. The exeption is if the student body chooses it as the best film.
One of my freshman, David Ochs, last fall had asked me one day in class what the controlling idea (i.e. theme) of "Hansel and Gretel" might be, and off the top of my head, I said something like, "With true innocence comes great power." Little did I know David wanted to redo the fairytale, and he created a fully animated five-minute film.
He knew going in that the only way it could be shown is if the student body selected it. The film ended up being so fabulous that it won the Peer’s Pick Award. He told me that as he created it, he kept focused on what I'd said. This reminds me that a casual comment can sometimes become something big. I’m awed, too, at the incredible odds he pushed against. To animate five minutes is like writing a novel in one semester.
You can see the five-minute piece, "Who's Hungry?", at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8srEvrF90-s. Note how David keeps the turns coming.
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