The fifth film we made for StoryCorps was released last week although it has been finished for quite a while. it's called School's Out and you can watch it here. As I re-watched it I was struck by the artistry of the folks involved. it was great working with Rich Ferguson-Hull again. Rich is a phenomenal animation director and his storyboard/animatic seemed to come out almost fully formed. The animators, Rebecca Reader, and newcomer Alex Horan were fantastic at bringing the characters to life and Tom Crew was invaluable in the role of compositor/editor. Tammy Kim's rare talent is showcased in the beautiful background art.
The research for this led us to a time and place that I didn't know much about. The segregated south of the 1950's. As I read more about the world that James Seawood describes in his recollection, I became increasingly angry at the unfair treatment of and obstacles that were placed in the paths of people of color. But Reverend Seawood's story had another side. It was also a fond remembrance of his mother/teacher and how her efforts inspired and educated students in the community. The dual nature of the story was a bit overwhelming at first. Was it a portrait of a place? Of a person? Rich rose to the challenge and after several versions he and I came up with this telling. It's a pointed depiction of an unjust system, a portrait of a place and an ode to a special person all in one. I love it!