Film screening will display student animations

by Mac Emery | 3/9/15 7:33pm

Ten undergraduate and graduate students will screen animations tonight that they have been creating over the past several wekks of the term as part of the culminating experience for Film Studies 35: “Animation, Principles and Practices.”

Film and media studies professor Jodie Mack, who teaches the class, said that the screening will represent the huge range in possibilities in animation and put an emphasis on independent art films.

“An animator is definitely a performer in many ways,” she said. “You’re just using a different vessel to execute the performance. All the different works really run the gamut of the possibilities that are present within the realm of animation.”

Mack, who has had her films screened at venues including the Rotterdam Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival, said that the purpose of the class and tonight’s screening is to prove to her students that they have the potential to be future filmmakers and to give them the “fuel” to consider future funding. She said that the class focused on aspects of creating animated films beyond simply the animation, such as how to gather funding and distribute a piece.

“All these stages of the process prepare the students for the mini version of the process an actual filmmaker might go through,” she said.

Lizzy Rogers ’16, the class’s teaching assistant, said that the projects are about two to three minutes long, although there are a variety of lengths. She said that the screening will allow the students to experience their work in a more traditional setting.

“I really hope that the students put out work that they are proud of,” she said. “They worked really hard, and I hope they enjoy seeing their work on the big screen. It’s really exciting and fun.”

Mack said that the screening will show the audience how traditional objects and techniques can be imagined in new ways.

“I think that the draw for the audience centers around absolute and complete wonderment and the awe-inspiring re-imagination of materials,” she said.

Rogers said that there will be a large range in types of animation shown at the screening, though all of it will be hand-drawn.

Kyle Kaplan, a digital music graduate student who is currently in the class, said that students had the opportunity to explore and use different techniques for their final films.

“Everyone’s project is really different conceptually, as well as in terms of technique,” he said.

Mack said that she purposefully served as a producer and facilitator for her students, rather than giving them specific and limiting rules that to follow for their final piece.

“I definitely gave the students free range as opposed to giving strict guidelines as to the content and form that their piece should take on,” she said.

Kaplan said that his piece uses a rotoscope animation technique, which will make it look like each frame in the film is painted, creating a type of “moving portrait.”

Rogers, who has both taken Mack’s class and acted as her teaching assistant in the past, said the techniques that students in the class explored ranged from simple hand-drawn animations to cut-out and stop-motion techniques. She said that the biggest challenge that the students face is the amount of time that animating requires.

“Not only have I fallen into the trap of waiting until the last minute, I’ve seen students do it as well,” she said. “The hardest thing about the class is realizing how much time needs to be put into it.”

Mack described the overall process of the final projects as “uplifting and inspiring” because they show how much her students have learned in the past nine weeks. She said that she believes that some of the pieces her students have made are professional enough to be entered in contests and competitions.

“Students come out with this piece that they can use as examples of their work capabilities for many different opportunities to come,” she said. “And I think that a lot of them could go on to screen and student film festivals, but it’s all up to how much you want to polish your project.”

Kaplan said that he has enjoyed getting the chance to rekindle his “creative self” in preparation for the final screening.

Mack said that in addition to tonight’s screening, she is also planning to set up a gallery with the student work from the class in a room above the VAC’s digital lab throughout the spring.

The screening will happen at 7 p.m. in Loew Auditorium and will be free for both students and community members.