Blog : June 2010

Miss Shade is Missing

Posted by amie

 | in The Film

This is a cool short film we made, that actually works great as a companion piece for SCHOOL PLAY. It's won a bunch of awards too. The basic gist: A third grade class in Brooklyn recounts its worst day in school. It was a surprisingly bad day. And, surprisingly funny. 

Enjoy!

Bravo, Florida.  Eric Smith, the state's Education Commissioner points out that engaging students in the arts gives them valuable tools as adults. Creativity, abstract thinking and "coming up with ways to do things differently"--all core elements of the artistic process--will be essential for adults who want high-paying jobs in the future. You can read the (very short) article here.

Now my two cents. Smith's point speaks not just to the core of budget cuts that threaten arts in the schools, but to something that's been bugging me for a long time: the pervasive problem of modern toys and video games that provide such a "rich user experience" that there's no need for the child to employ any imagination of their own.

What ever happened to picking up a stick and instantly turning it into a rocket ship? I shudder to think of all the synapse connections that aren't being made because all the work is being done for you.

I've always loved watching Tim O'Brien draw. Tim is a friend, a neighbor, boxer, runner, husband and dad. He's also one of America's best illustrators. (Whether you know it or not, you've been looking at Tim's work for years - on the covers of magazines, on postage stamps, on your favorite book covers...)

Some of Tim's recent artwork. You can see why he was named the 'illustrator of the year' in 2009!

I've watched Tim paint and draw for hours in the past. Our families go on vacation together and, when you're with Tim, you see that he just can't help himself. He sketches while we make supper. He even paints on the kids, turning them into superheroes before bedtime. If there's a surface to draw on and a minute to spare, Tim's happy.

With Tim on vacation: Sketching me cooking dinner. Tim, after painting on the kids. Once, he even painted a window onto the wood ceiling of the beach house - so realistic, you'd think it opens!

We were really lucky in that Tim was willing to draw the art work for SCHOOL PLAY. I got to hang out in his studio, the famous Tim O'Brien lair on the top floor of his house in Brooklyn, and watch him bring our poster to life. It's like watching a magic show  - lines coming together to form emotions. A hand waves across a page, whole stories spring to life. He really should charge admission!

Watching Tim draw the SCHOOL PLAY artwork was particularly cool because I'd never seen him work on the computer before.

The funny thing about the SCHOOL PLAY poster is that it's not really a typical "Tim O'Brien" illustration. Tim's known for his startling realism and extraordinary detail. But for this painting, Rick and I wanted less 'realism'. Yes, it is for a documentary film. But our goal from the beginning was to make more of 'a memory play' than a realistic rendering. We were hoping to capture childhood through rose-colored glassed. The art work had to capture this notion too.

Tim was of course more than up to the task. We think he's created another iconic image, perfectly capturing the fear and excitement of a child stepping out onto a stage for the first time. Thanks, Tim!

To see how the SCHOOL PLAY art work came together from Tim's perspective, check out his blog. And while you're there, look at some of his other amazing work! TIM O'BRIEN'S BLOG

You know how nothing ever happens exactly as planned? A while back, we were sick of making "films for hire", and really wanted to create something that fed our souls. SCHOOL PLAY is the result-- a labor of love and a great example of finding both art and drama right in your own back yard.

But: who would have ever guessed it would take this long to get it out into the world?

Like everything always does, SCHOOL PLAY continues to find its own path (and time schedule). We've watched enthusiastic festival audiences laugh, cry and be transformed by this film. We're extremely excited that this site will finally allow us to reach the vast audience of documentary lovers, theatre fans and advocates of arts education.

Welcome.  And please tell your friends about us!