Student Spotlight: Lizzy Rogers ’16 to screen film tonight
In her film and media studies culminating project, Lizzy Rogers ’16 dabbled with conventional and experimental animation techniques to create a short film that is both narratively compelling and aesthetically stimulating. The film, titled “A True Story About You,” deals with existentialist realizations.
“I really wanted to play with the idea of truth in cinema as well as connecting with the viewer,” Rogers said.
Film and media studies professor Jodie Mack, who has been Rogers’ advisor throughout the process, remarked on the various techniques that Rogers was able to incorporate into her film.
“It basically approaches different types of direct address to the audience and also techniques of mindfulness,” Mack said.
Rogers hand-drew and animated the four-minute silent film. In an era of increasingly advanced animation technology, Rogers breaks away from the mold of modern approaches to animation. Instead, Rogers concerns herself with the physical mode of production by drawing every frame by hand.
Furthermore, Rogers avoids creating a simplistic film for the sake of artistic choice. Her drawings are not crude or haphazard but instead embody a sense of humanism that can only be found in works that are self-conscious about their modes of production. Rogers also pairs her hand-drawn animations with a series of statements and questions that provoke the viewer to consider some truly large and universal themes regarding the human condition.
“It uses a structure of call and response to map out the most existential condition of humanity,” Mack said.
Rogers explained that animation creates a sense of reality that live action films cannot recreate.
“I have a very strong opinion on truth in film and I think it has a bias that doesn’t necessarily agree with the reality that people automatically think pictures portray,” Rogers said.
She prefers animation as her medium of choice because it can “communicate something that’s more real than just taking a picture of something can.”
Rogers chose the topic for her film because she wanted to deal with real issues that meant something to her.
“I wanted to do something that was positive and still tackled some sort of issue,” Jones said. “Issues of stability and mental health are really integral to my life.”
Mack compared the film’s uplifting message to a “moving self-help book.”
“If you watch the film you feel like it’s talking directly to you and sort of giving you a pep talk,” Mack said.
Reed Sturtevant ’16, a friend of Rogers’ who has seen her work before, said that the film makes people “feel good about life.”
“Every piece that she makes has the feeling of truth to it,” Sturtevant said. “Everything that she makes is highly personal and comes from her own voice.”
Rogers’ mix of personal ideas and unique modes of production create an intricate hybrid that blurs the lines that define genre and even storytelling in its most fundamental form. The film works as a conduit, delivering a message that reads much more like a poem than a film. The animation works in tandem with the writing to reinforce the message on a more personal level that crucially resonates with viewers.
Sturtevant noted that the personal nature of the films more closely links the audience with the content.
“Something I get from this piece and a lot of her pieces is kind of a sense that the observer is in an intimate conversation with the artist,” Sturtevant said.
Rogers has been working on the project for over a year, with most of that time spent working on the project independently.
As a film major concentrating in animation, Rogers found it difficult to connect the two within the department. She has found that many of the classes focus heavily on theory as opposed to practice. Rogers has been able to navigate the department smoothly for the most part, acknowledging that most professors are understanding and allow her to bring the thinking behind her animation to theory-driven classes.
“A lot of my work in the film department was figuring out how I could do what is required of me but also focus on what I wanted to focus on,” Rogers said.
Rogers has previously had her films screened at festivals such as the White River Independent Film Festival in White River Junction and the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina.
“A True Story About You” will be shown for free in the Loew Auditorium in the Black Family Visual Arts Center tonight at 7 p.m.