Last Thursday, I was in California to show my work at the CalArts campus in Valencia and to check out their year-end Producer’s Show. I thought I’d pass on my picks, along with my thoughts on this year’s group of films. It was an interesting experience for me, since I’m an East Coaster. I’ve taught at Pratt, NYU, and Mercy College, and attended RISD as an undergrad, so it was nice to see what’s been going on out West.
Here are my picks from the show:
Crater Face by Skyler Page (2nd Year)
When The Time Is Ripe by Shion Takeuchi (4th year)
Dad? by Zesung Kang (3rd year)
SunGuy by Michelle Xin (3rd year)
The Hardest Jigsaw by Eric Anderson
Work by Michael Rianda (3rd year)
Night Parade by Sabrina Cotugno (2nd year)
It was a really inspiring group of films. The level of craft and storytelling were impressive, especially considering that, with one exception, the above films were all from second and third-year students. On the East coast, students tend to make a junior and senior film, but CalArts has their students making films all four years. The practice is getting really mature work out of the students, with sophomore and junior films holding up well next to the seniors. It’s also teaching them quite a bit about directing and managing their own projects.
“Crater Face” and “When The Time is Ripe” especially stand out to me as two films that are very well paced, with great styles and a consistent level of craft and finish. Still, I wonder if the responsibility of making a film each year is keeping the student’s schedules too busy to dabble in some more technical classes, or to learn some new techniques. Out of the twenty films in the show, only one used much 3D. The professors I talked with said that there’s been some changes recently in the curriculum that are meant to get the students more comfortable with non-2D animation, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out.
There was quite a wide range of drawing styles in the program, without a noticeable “Institution Style”, as some schools seem to unfortunately put on all their films. Also of note, about half the films in the show were from women, whose presence is unfortunately all too rare in animation. I was bummed that so many of the films this year used copyrighted music. It would be great if there was more collaboration with the CalArts music students. Still, it was a really solid show and I’m glad I had the chance to check it out. I hope I’ll be seeing these films on the festival circuit this year. It’s a good thing that so many of them are available on Vimeo for everyone to see. When I wrote this article last night “The Hardest Jigsaw” wasn’t available. As I was making a couple revisions this morning, I noticed Eric posted it, so luckily we all get to see another cartoon!