FAV Wins Big in Ottawa
FAV Critic Steve Subotnik celebrates with students as they accept the OIAF’s award for Best School Reel of 2014.
Animated films by RISD students and alumni really stood out at the 2014 Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) in September. After roughly 10% of the films chosen for screening at the festival ended up being RISD-related, members of the Film/Animation/Video (FAV) community earned three of the top prizes – including Best School Reel.
“It was a banner year at the festival for RISD, especially since many of the competing institutions are graduate schools,” says Professor Amy Kravitz, who heads FAV’s animation program. “We don’t have a graduate program or even an animation department, but I think our broader view of the medium contributes a certain kind of vision that may account for the success of our students.”
Animator and FAV Critic Steven Subotnik collaborated with other FAV faculty members to compile the winning 38-minute student reel, which features complete short films by 10 juniors and seniors. “The objective is to show the range of work at the school,” Kravitz explains, “and to highlight films that achieve what they set out to do.”
RISD students employ a broad variety of animation techniques—from hand-drawn to stop-motion to 3D computer animation—as they work to realize a personal vision. “There’s a lot of invention in the department,” says Kravitz, “so the reels look completely different from year to year. This year’s films are energetic, sophisticated and humorous, and there’s a real sense of joy in exploring the medium.”
Senior Christian Larrave 15 FAV landed the prize for Best Undergraduate Film for Lesley the Pony Has an A+ Day!, a four-minute hand-drawn piece that masterfully combines humor, original music and psychological tension. It’s a catchy, intriguing short with what Kravitz describes as a “twisted rainbow effect.”
Recent alum Caleb Wood 11 FAV, whose critically acclaimed 2013 film Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop was also screened at the OIAF, earned an honorable mention this year for an experimental film called Totem. “It’s a hypnotic abstract film that uses a form of continuous loop animation,” Kravitz explains.
Although winning films don’t necessarily get picked up by other animation festivals, the OIAF offers an excellent opportunity for independent animators to get their work out there—in front of a highly discerning audience. “Animators toil alone for many, many hours to create a few seconds of work,” notes Kravitz. “One of the wonderful things about this festival is that it highlights the depth of work being made today. We saw fabulous reels from France, Tokyo and Jerusalem—and were honored to be among them.”
Although FAV graduates go on to pursue a wide range of careers—as independent artists, studio animators, creative professionals in the realms of television and gaming, and in seemingly unrelated fields like social work—Kravitz says that the film industry welcomes RISD alumni because of their inventiveness. “The studios are looking for creator-driven content versus people who operate more like a pair of hands,” she explains. “One of the things we’re very proud of is that there is no typical FAV graduate.”
Graduating seniors Emily Neilson 15 FAV and Katy Strutz 15 IL are thrilled to move on to LAIKA, a creative animation studio outside Portland, OR.
Seniors are screening final degree project films at this week’s Film/Animation/Video Senior Show.
Many RISD alumni have been involved in shaping the look and feel of The Simpsons, now the longest-running animated sitcom on American TV.