Undergraduate filmmaker a Nickelodeon Festival finalist

DMD freshman Jason Merrin

When Jason Merrin EAS’13 received his congratulations-you’re-a-finalist e-mail from the Nickelodeon Animation Festival, “I did one of those cheesy ’80s-movie fist pumps into the air,” he recalls. There was just one problem: the Digital Media Design freshman was sitting in class.

“I realized how stupid [that fist pump] looked, so I ran to the bathroom where I could jump up and down and yell with excitement without disturbing anyone,” he says.

Though Merrin has been creating films for about five years,  The History of an Animation was the first one he submitted to a festival. As a finalist in the Nickelodeon competition, his animated short was broadcast on the Nicktoons Network in late November, just before the festival winners were announced.

“It’s really the story of an animator told through his work,” Merrin says of his film. “It explores the way in which an animator’s style grows and changes over time. Really, it explores the way my style grew and changed over time.”

Using computer animation, Merrin illustrated his progression from stick-figure doodles on Post-It Notes to colored-pencil drawings on index cards to “clunky white-page animation” and, eventually, Adobe Flash — the program he currently uses. “I’m learning 3-D animation now,” he adds, “and if I were to make this movie a year from now, that would probably be the next step.”

Although he spent four long months animating History, he says the greatest challenge was printing a full-sized movie poster and convincing a New York City movie theater to let him hang it out front for the film’s final shot. “My friends and I went to three different theaters before finding one that would let us film [that scene],” he says. “And even [that theater] told us we had to hurry before the ‘big bosses showed up.’”

Though his film didn’t win in November, Merrin plans to enter the festival again in 2010 — and to pursue filmmaking after graduation. “I can’t see myself doing anything else,” he says. “Making movies is what I love to do, and I hope to make a career out of it.”

To see more of Jason’s films, visit his YouTube page.

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Filed under Film, Student Life

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