10 May 2009

Trade Winds!

Woah, we’re done. (If you can't see the video below, click on the title of this post to see my film on youtube!)

This is a post of random thoughts and facts about the film!

First, why’s it called Trade Winds?

A trade is both a noun and a verb; one is a specific skilled craft and the other is an exchange of one thing for another. My film title references both. The old man’s trade is kitemaking, and with that skill he essentially trades his boat for a kite in a desperate attempt to save his life. And the wind is obviously an integral part of kite flying as well as the source of conflict in the story.

How did you live?
Barely! I've been overnighting since February, and eventually worked my way up to being in the studio 6 nights a week. I got 1 1/2 to 3 hours of sleep a night and ate decidedly less than 3 meals a day. About every fourth night I'd have to sleep for 5 hours or so to recharge. The workers for every shift in the corner deli know how I take my coffee, so it got to the point where I'd just hand them a dollar and they wouldn't have to ask what I wanted. The total number of hours per week that I worked was about 110-115 and I kept that pace up for over 2 months. And that's why I'm tired.

Some end credits!

Very special thanks to my helpers, every single one of you. I do however feel the need to explain this large number of people to those not involved with the project. It would seem I didn’t do so much work because of the number of other people credited, but this is not so. The reality is that I completed roughly 85% of the character animation myself (plus 100% of the backgrounds and effects animation). However, the time crunch got to be so great that I needed the assistance of each and every one of those people, and we just managed to complete the film a few hours before the deadline. So absolutely everybody listed here helped finish this film, but within that list, a small number of people (you know who you are) went above and beyond to save my butt. Many, many thanks to you all.

The biggest expense for this project was sound and music. I wanted it to be good so I decided not to do it myself. Ross Bollinger did a wonderful job composing and recording in not a whole lot of time, and Chris Faulkner was incredibly patient with my weekly updates. I don’t personally know Matthew and Lindsey, but they rock too.

None of this would have happened without the support and feedback of Howard. It was great to work with him and the advice he gave me early on in the production helped carry me through to the end. For those of you familiar with him, you may have noticed that Howard is actually in the film. The biggest reason I put him there was to prove to people that my main character is not actually Howard.

See? He can’t be two different characters in the same shot, so clearly the grandfather is not Howard. The other reason is I thought it would be funny. No one really laughed but people do recognize him.

I am happy to say I was one of three Dusty Award winners in animation. The categories were Outstanding Achievement in Traditional Animation (Jake Armstrong, Left), Outstanding Design (Alex Wager, Center), and Human Spirit (Me, Right. I was actually happier than I look in this photo). I was nominated for Outstanding Design, which I wasn't expecting, and I won the Human Spirit Award. This surprised me as well. Seriously, I got up to the podium and didn’t know what to say. The film major that won that award had made a film about domestic abuse and was therefore sending a message with it. But what message did my film send that warranted this award? I realized that yes, the award is based on the film’s message and technical level of craft, but also on the person behind it. My attitude towards my work and my peers showed through in my film and how I conducted myself in the studio on a day-to-day basis. The studio was indeed my home. I worked, ate, and slept there (when I could afford to sleep at all). We laughed, cried, argued, and sweated through the worst and best times together. Thus far it has been the most intense, challenging marathon I’ve ever worked through, but I look back on it fondly and would do it all over again. And it is because of that attitude that I received an award.

With animation and filmmaking, no matter how difficult the process is, when I see the end result it makes it worthwhile. I am not a proud person and do not seek to be a rockstar, but I take great pride in my craft because I put so much into it. By extension, I have great respect for my classmates who I see work just as hard on their own projects. There are a few other people I can think of just as deserving of this Dusty, and I am honored to have shared space with them in the studio for all those months.

Yay friends! To my immediate right is Q. I still owe her a pony.


Random screencaps!

06 May 2009


We finished! Thesis is done!

I have been done as of Friday, but there have been so many things going on keeping me from making a proper post here.

Even this is a placeholder, but there will be substantial updates happening over the next few days. Until then, if you're in the New York area this Thursday, come see my film, Trade Winds! There are quite a few other cool films made by my friends playing that night as well, so don't miss it.

7 PM show starts, my film plays around 8:40
Visual Arts Theater
W 23rd between 8th and 9th