"25" was my senior thesis film that I made at the School of Visual Arts. It's about a boy looking to cool off from the summer heat that ends up on a wild ride after he drops his last quarter. The film follows our hero, Boyo, as he races through the city streets on his bicycle, leaving a trail of chaos in his wake.
Before I had even settled on a story, my intention for what kind of film I wanted to make was always just "something stylish". Stylish, of course, could mean quite literally anything, depending on who you were asking, so I had to decide for myself what that even meant. Thus began my long journey in research and development.
I decided to look at content I already loved and tried to sort out what I found so attractive about them. Game series like Jet Set Radio and Splatoon were working with vibrant color schemes and smooth movement speeds, with Splatoon's main game mechanic also being entirely centered around colors. A film that had released around the time I started my brainstorming was Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, and at the same time I was newly getting into the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure series. Both are highly stylized, with clear, recognizable silhouettes and characters, and pay homage to the graphic novel series they come from by using very deliberate camera shots and compositions.
Concept art from R+D. You might recognize some of these shots having made it into the final film!
So it started to become clear what type of film I was after: something with consistent color palettes, strong visuals and silhouettes, and highly directed cameras and movement. With "movement" most in mind, the narrative began to piece itself together (though, in an alternate universe I likely thought of something more like Buck's Spectacle of the Real). While a finalized story didn't happen until I was well into production, developing the right look was something that started early and honestly never ended. I was fixed on making an entire film in a CG style I didn't know how to emulate, one that didn't have that much documentation either. Every new design was followed by a "let's see if this will work", and while the trial and error process was certainly frustrating at times, it allowed me to learn so much; not just about CG, but the creative process in general. Giving up on something because it didn't work at first means you never know what could've been had you just given it another shot.
Boyo's very first iteration to his very last; and there are more of these. Over the course of the two years that I worked on this project, I changed his render setup and textures 11 times, 2 of which completely restarting his textures from scratch.
With anything you make, there's always the feeling that you could've done this and that differently or so and so better. But being able to look at your completed work critically just means you've grown since you started it! There are certainly things that could've been better, but given the circumstances that everyone had to work from home due to the covid-19 pandemic, and that I did majority of the project myself, I can say I'm proud of the result nonetheless.
People I'd specifically like to thank for their help on the project are Xinyi Alores Li (aloresli.com), who helped in texturing the park assets, Maya Mendonca (mayamendonca.com), who helped with the 3D animation in a few shots, and Ollie Yao (ollieyao.com), who created some of the main backgrounds/matte paintings.
Honors and Showings
SVA "Outstanding Achievement Award", 2020
NY MetroCAF Official Selection, 2020
International Film Festival Animation bushehr, Official Selection, 2021