Blending stop motion, Taylor Johnston’s (BFA/DA ’18) area of expertise, and the computer graphic prowess of Austin Piko (BFA/DA ’18), the team behind Meraki are making the only stop-motion animation thesis film to come from Dodge College this year.

The team is excited to bring the magic of three-dimensional animation to audiences with this film. Magic they discovered while playing as children. “When I was a kid I would make stop-motion films on the floor in my room,” says Evan Ridpath (BFA/PR ’18), the film’s producer. “That got me into wanting to do film and animation, and now here we are, working on this thesis.”

“It comes full circle,” says Johnston, reminiscing about the hours spent creating worlds as a kid.

While most digital arts films are done entirely on a computer, “we had all the same set restraints a live action film would have, with a physical set we constructed over the fall semester,” says Ridpath.

This experience has become a labor of love as the team worked tirelessly to complete the project on time. “There was a day, last semester, we spent five hours at Home Depot, just trying to figure out what we needed,” says Piko. After the correct supplies were purchased, with the help of student volunteers, paid only in pizza, the group got to work making this short film. “We were on set eight hours a day, three days a week, for the last month of the semester. It was a marathon,” says Piko.

“This is a unique story and we hope to get people fired up about stop-motion after seeing it,” says Johnston.

Visit our calendar for the screening date of the animated thesis films.

Special thanks to AMD studios for providing a necessary scholarship to bring this dream to life.

From the editor: You can read more about the team behind Meraki in the spring issue of In Production magazine here