An undaunted filmmaker searches for inspiration... and a bathroom.
2018, 7 minutes 20 seconds, 3600 index cards
Music and sound design by Cory Goldman
Praise for Random Thoughts
"This year, we received over 5,000 short film submissions from around the globe and ultimately culled the final selections down to 63 films.... Your film was specifically hand chosen ... for its multitudinous artistic merit and cinematic singularity. We're absolutely thrilled to show your work to our eager Nashville audience." ~Nashville Film Festival
"Glorious! Especially liked the abstract bits - like the intro and the circle sequence." ~Bend Film Festival
"It has an incredible sound design that goes a long way toward keeping a lively and enjoyable energy and pacing. And the animation also has a nice rhythm and flow." ~Bend Film Festival
Having recently completed a film made of circles and personal health problems, our hero ships his masterpiece off in a box to a film festival. As he makes his own way to the festival on foot, his thoughts reveal how inspiration can come to a creative spirit from anywhere, about anything, at any given time.
Upon arriving at the film festival, his first order of business is to find a bathroom, and it's a bit of a challenge, but he eventually succeeds and continues into the theater. We see our hero's film in it's entirety, followed by a Q&A, where he confidently answers questions from the banal to the bat-shit crazy.
After the festival, on his walk back home, the filmmaker feels super inspired and can hardly wait to start his next project - until, that is, he gets to his mailbox. Therein lies a rejection letter, ostensibly from another film festival. This disappointing and frankly rude lemon-colored deliverance is no match, however, for our hero's creative drive. He intends to make some proverbial lemonade!
Random Thoughts was inspired by my experiences with and at film festivals. The idea for the film came to me while walking three miles in the rain from my hotel to the Michigan Theater where the Ann Arbor Film Festival screened my film Boomerang (Best Music Video Award, 2017). I did this walk every morning for several days, and had to buy two umbrellas: one because it was raining and I couldn't find my umbrella while packing for the trip, and another because I left the first umbrella at a late night after-party. Anyway, on my walk I observed pine cones that resembled dog turds, and lot of other visual treats.
When audience member #2 asks that crazy incoherent question, the first line of that question was asked of me as I stood in front of an audience at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. My answer, after asking her to repeat the question, was to tell her all about my solar powered studio where I do my animation; it seemed to satisfy her curiosity.
Rejection is real - my previous film was rejected by many festivals (and selected by a dozen), but one stood out because of the subject line of the rejection letter: NOTICE OF REJECTION. No kidding.
- Steven Vander Meer
- Original music and sound design
- Cory Goldman
- Dirk de Bruyn (filmmaker)
Rick St. Charles (urologist)
Isaac Beach (audience member #2)
Carol Vander Meer (umbrella sales lady and film festival hostess)
Steven Vander Meer (audience member #1)
- Audio Mix
- Tim Gray
- Diane Arbus
- Timothy David Orme
- Dr. Robin Zagone
- Lori Damiano
- The film took about one year to animate and is the shortest length of time spent on a film by this animator.
- A custom rubber stamp alphabet set was created for the opening title and anagram sequence. The small umbrella rubber stamps were also a part of that set, which is available for sale here.
- While attending a film festival, the animator met a fellow animator, Timothy David Orme, who talked about his project "Enso": drawing one circle every day and then making a film out of that at 12 circles per second. This idea was the inspiration for the "film within a film" where you see all the circles, and is considered a tribute to all experimental film makers.
- To give the "film within a film" a gritty, experimental look, the animator spread the drawings on the floor of his studio and rode is bicycle over them repeatedly, then put the drawings in a book press for a few days to firmly embed the debris before scanning them.
- Near the end of the film, the main character walks past cameos of elements from the animator's previous films: flying hotdogs from "Beans From Another Planet", a rhino from "Arcata Brain Closet", orange Honda Fit from "More From Life", a farmer on a tractor from "Salmon Deadly Sins" and the lady on the unicycle is from "Boomerang".
- In the final shot, when the main character is in close-up, the filmmaker used a technique called psuedo-roto. It is similar to rotoscoping, but instead of tracing the live action footage, the frames are displayed one at a time on an iPad with a grid overlay. The index cards have a grid underlay used as a guide for drawing freehand what one sees on the iPad.
- Director cameo: audience member who asks the filmmaker "how long did that take you?".
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