I usually don’t take notice of student films here, but I understandably am making an exception for Evan Curtis’ Chief Serenbe, made last year at the Savannah College of Art and Design—especially since it was made in my graduate-level Media Theory class. (He has been in three of my classes and I am on his MFA thesis committee.) Ever since then, it has been making the rounds on the festival circuit and can now be seen online as part of the Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival along with some information on its production; you should also check out Curtis’ website here.
The first half of my Media Theory class involves lectures and discussions on media theory with the major student assignment being a term paper; the second half involves a studio assignment where students are urged to expand in some way on an aspect of their term paper. The topic of Curtis’ paper, “Toy Monger,” was not really surprising, since he is is an avid toy collector, and action figures in particular. And though Chief Serenbe does, like most of his films, uses toys from his collection, its style is very much inspired by Italian Neorealism. The film’s opening shot (see image above) was filmed after the class was over. My contribution to Chief Serenbe was, at best, rather modest as Curtis seemed to know exactly what he was wanted to do. In any case, do take a look and enjoy.