Tom Teller Interviewing Hanna Kim (Jack Larson Student Filmmaker of Southern California Award)

Vote for Hanna's film to win the Viewer's Choice Award.


Tom Teller: What inspired the story in your film?

Hanna Kim: For a while, I wanted to make a short that felt like a moving storybook, of a character wondering around places throughout the story. I knew I wanted to incorporate nature in the film, and thought it would be fun to play around with light and darkness. I needed a character that lives in the forest and interact with the light source, then I realized raccoons holding a flashlight would be a really fun idea. They know how to hold things like humans do with their paws and are very curious in nature. I thought they were perfect for the film, how a raccoon could be attached to a flashlight he finds, and the story naturally came together afterwards.

TT: Why have you decided to pursue animation?

HK: Having loved observational drawings and doodling, I originally thought I was going to pursue illustration, but I met a teacher from an art class outside of high school who saw my work and told me that animation could be a good fit as well. I noticed they had a lot of similarities and saw that people in the industry also go back and forth from illustration and animation. I thought I would give animation a try, and much later at CalArts I developed a love for filmmaking as well.

TT: What did you learn during the process that you will apply to your thesis film at CalArts?

HK: I learned that it’s really important to find what I consistently loved drawing and incorporate that into my projects. It really helped me keep moving forward during the production of my film.

When making a film, you consistently have to think about what the audience would be seeing, but when making an independent film just on your own, it’s also very important to keep yourself happy throughout the process.

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TT: Could you explain your animation process?

HK: All of my projects start out as doodles in my sketchbook. Then I start thumbnailing how the story would play out on flashcards, as well as designing the characters and what kind of style of the film would have. Then I make clearer and more solid storyboards digitally and time them out. I make layouts of all my shots on Photoshop, roughing out all my backgrounds and where the characters are positioned. Next, I start animating the characters on TVPaint and painting my backgrounds on Photoshop. When I’m done, I composite in After Effects by putting all my animations and backgrounds together, laying down textures, and in this case, animate the light beam from the flashlight. I finish by putting all the shots together in Premiere Pro.

TT: What was your favorite part of making the film?

HK: I had a ton of fun researching facts about raccoons and studying their behaviors. It was also fun designing my character and creating its childlike personality based off my research, and drawing it in different situations and poses to see what it would look like and how it would act. I still find myself doodling raccoons in my sketchbook sometimes.

TT: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring animators?

HK: You don't need to keep your art clean all the time! I thought I always had to keep my work clean to have them be presentable, but when I started to make them more loose and messier, I realized I was having more fun making my projects. Besides, more often than not, your original ideas and thought process are presented better when you leave your sketches as is.

Also, don’t limit yourself to animation when looking for inspiration. Read books, watch live action films, and always, observe from real life. That’s where all the best story ideas come from.


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