Film Stills From Chicago

The other reason we were out in Chicago was to take place in the SAIC's Visiting Artist Program (VAP) lecture series. Brent, being the kind of guy he is, didn't want to just we brought out some of our musician friends! And we screened some short films! And Brent goaded the audience, taking questions throughout! Demanding applause and repelling it when it came! Overall it was a bit of a blur, moving so fast it seemed to stop before we even got started, but the music was fantastic and the response from the students was  phenomenal- we're still getting e-mails from the audience! I do think we freaked out the teachers a little with Brent's general cuss-ladened storytelling was so much fun!

Speaking of teachers..SAIC is home to some of the best animators and filmmakers in the world. No exaggeration. Before coming to Chicago I was lucky enough to watch an advanced copy of Chicago based animator/SAIC professor Chris Sullivan's epic feature film titled Consuming Spirits (which is set to premier at the Tribeca Film Festival in April! Film still directly above!). Seamlessly blending together hand drawn animation, 3d sets and expertly made paper puppets, Chris' film recounts a tragic tale of loss, easing you through the story with an Irish folk-rock score and keeping you engaged through biting humor, sadness and sheer animation skill! 14 years of painstaking hard work went into this weird fluid piece, focused on the entwined lives of a dystopian family, you must see it! End of story! I also met Jim Trainor whose work I am smitten with...both The Bats and The Moschops are drawn animations of a bittersweet first person account of natural history, simply beautiful and arresting in the matter of fact/Natural Geographic/placid tone set against the familiarity and closeness of the shaky hand drawn image and the personal stories the subjects tell- a delicate balance of information and feeling, of what it means to be a living thing! So good!

And then there was Melika Bass! Melika is one bad ass woman, whose work I had checked out before coming to the school and it is stunning- STUNNING! (still from her short film Songs From the Shed at very top) In an often sepia tinged American Gothic style, with a sloping eerieness edging along the periphery, and sweet folky lullaby soundtracks next to elegant foley, Melika's live-action work is amazing- I can only hope to see more of it since only her trailers are available online (Update: Brent was secretly gifted her dvds! Yay!)! I didn't get to see much student work while at SAIC but, after a studio visit Brent had with grad student Jeremiah David Jones I hunted him down so I could take a peek... His blog showcases his work in progress and those rabbits (film still directly above) are puppets Jeremiah uses in his animations, a hand crafted charm with an edge evident in the bleak title of his newest work We Are Going To Be Poor Forever...reaaalllly hope to see the finished project! Especially since Jeremiah is a sweetheart to boot! The pervasive lush, sweet, melancholy tone of SAIC's film department is definitely setting the standard in my opinion and, luckily, they are all wonderful people too! to get out of a Chicago induced film and meat coma....?



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.