Case Studies

It's OK to tell - Lauren's Kids

‘It’s OK to tell’ is an Emmy award winning call to action PSA created for the Lauren’s Kids organization in Florida. Their mission is “To prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support”. 

I was fortunate enough to be able to work with them in creating this spot, which aired nationally during April 2018, national child abuse prevention month. When we sat down and discussed the spot, everyone’s chief concern was to be mindful that the audience for the spot, which was kids, would connect to the situation that was happening but not be terrified or triggered by what they saw.

 So, we decided to approach the spot in a storybook, paper cut out fashion, something that kids could relate too and something that would soften the intensity of the situation that unfolds in the spot. It was modeled off of the story and designs from Lauren Book’s actual book – Lauren’s Kingdom. As the writer/director of the spot, my challenge was taking the entirety of the book and condensing it down to an animated thirty second spot without losing the salient message of the book, which I believe we did successfully.

The project was done entirely digitally. It was drawn and painted in Photoshop and animated and composited in AfterEffects. I was able to work with two wonderful artists on the project – Carolina Berguirstain (http://cargocollective.com/carolinabeguiristain) who storyboarded the piece and Kaia Phoenix (Instagram: @kaiaphoenix ) who worked with me on art direction and painting the backgrounds and pieces of the puppets, that I animated.

Ripening - Short Film

Ripening is a cathartic journey that explores the inner turmoil of a crumbling relationship and the fruitful outcome of the experience.

The film needed to be grounded on the central character’s feelings so that they felt real, tactile – hence the choice for constructing the character in a stop-motion clay style technique. I felt that in order to be honest. I could only communicate how the experience affected me from my perspective and that everything else -while important – was flat in comparison. I cannot truly know or in some cases understand the thoughts and actions of my former partner- hence the decision to construct the female character in a two dimensional style.

The film needed to be grounded on the central character’s feelings so that they felt real, tactile – hence the choice for constructing the character in a stop-motion clay style technique. I felt that in order to be honest. I could only communicate how the experience affected me from my perspective and that everything else -while important – was flat in comparison. I cannot truly know or in some cases understand the thoughts and actions of my former partner- hence the decision to construct the female character in a two dimensional style.

This choice of styles sits at the heart of the narrative and permeates through the film especially in the environments . There are three distinct settings for the film – the morning, the dream/nightmare and the sunset. The morning and the sunset environments are constructed to reside within the three dimensional space, a tactile space, a space you could touch. It is grounded and while it changes, it changes slowly with distinct purpose and use. This gives the viewer a sense of ease, safety. It is predictable, dependable. The dream/nightmare space is mercurial, temporal, always shifting, moving – like a memory.

The harshness of the words, with their banner like appearance, speak to the reality of her expression as well as the degeneration of the relationship over time. All of these words were common place expressions for her- both positive and negative and are directly tied to the wheel of time that moves beneath their feet. In treating the negative words I felt that it was important to give them a agitated feeling to help re-enforce the visual impact. As the words grew worse, the echoes of them compounded like a swarm of bees or an unimaginable weight until it was too much to bear and I exploded.

The tree on the hill at the end of the path holds a powerful personal symbol for me. Trees embody the flow of our lives, the many choices we make, good or bad, all are connected to the trunk that is us. All our experiences bear the potential, just like the blossoms on the tree, to produce valuable lessons which we carry with us, like the fruit, on the rest of our journey. This fruit feeds us, helps us grow just as our experiences do. I wanted to communicate that while this experience was tough, the lesson learned produced a powerful fruit which allowed me to continue on my journey.

Delgo - Fathom Studios

The making of this film was an epic journey in of itself, chock full of twists, turns, colorful characters and heartbreak. You could make a movie about this movie… a cheeky logline might be…

When a small, inexperienced team of people commit to making their first animated feature, they must band together to overcome resistance from the Hollywood system, the limitations of off-the-shelf software, and non-existent marketing or fall into the oblivion of obscurity and bankruptcy.

Like most naive first time film makers we set out to change the world-to prove that a small team of artists could make a CG animated feature film. We weren’t cocky. We struggled to learn, to absorb as much as we could and learn we did. We tried to redefine a system without really understanding the system first. Our failures were numerous and our lessons were epic but we learned, we grew and we made it.

I had the honor and privileged of working beside one of the hardest working, most dedicated crews that any filmmaker could hope. These men and women came from all over the world to Atlanta, Georgia and committed years of their lives to help create a film that, unfortunately, inevitably failed financially due in part to our inexperience and in part to a lack of substantial marketing.

Opening day, as I sat in a mostly empty theater to watch the audience’s reaction, I got my largest life lesson on success. It wasn’t until at the end of the second screening where it was just me, a friend and a family of four that the universe delivered it.

I had just sat through two almost empty screenings. I was mortified, destroyed. A failure. As I sat there wallowing, the universe spoke. “Take that Raius!, I’m Bogardus!” delivered a 10 year old boy as he and his sister laughed and leapt down the stairs with their smiling parents in tow. It was right then that I remembered that when we began the film I had set an expectation for success for myself. I had said that I would be happy and feel successful if I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had inspired just one kid like I had been inspired by Jim Henson and George Lucas as a boy. There it was my moment of success and the lesson of Delgo.