You will find samples of my work (including illustrations, writing, reviews, and links to where they are hosted on other sites) at the following dedicated site:
What ‘makes’ a film? Is it the writing? Is it the editing? This is the question many have sought to answer. Auteur, a term not so commonly used these days, is defined as a director who so influences a film, that he or she becomes the author, making it what it is. But how can we prove or disprove this? By looking at a handful of short films by one director – Jamison Bright – we can see how each work carries on the director’s film style and personal principles.
Jamison Bright is a young, up-and-coming, film director who has so far built a solid portfolio of live-action and animated shorts. Formerly known as Xavier Vanegas, Jamison is a director, actor, and producer, using all of these positions to create pieces of art that help define the human condition and entertain the world.
When looking at Jamison’s extensive portfolio to get a clear picture of how he thinks and what messages he wants to give to the world, you must begin with his early works.
One Night Stand shows a young man’s attempt to escape an apartment after spending the night with a woman. Despite being an early piece of Jamison’s work, we can see marked creativity in his shot selection and awareness of location, a favourite part being the use of a mirror to avoid using a standard cut away.
Pass/Fail Episode Two is similar in theme, however this one included dialogue that sounded both realistic to the age group and garnered a chuckle. With more actors and scenery to command, it was a tough job, but definitely shows his progression in skill. The shot selections are textbook, setting the scene and letting the characters tell their stories.
No university film degree is complete without making a zombie film. Zombs focuses on the in-between moments. Minor technical elements such as lighting and sound could have been improved, but it added to the psuedo-normalcy of the event.
Also dealing with death in a mostly comedic way is Remembering Jim Thatcher. Through quick glimpses of Jim’s life at the open of the film, we are instantly connected to him. The use of a green screen, though sometimes very evident, generally worked for the best. We are able to concentrate on the characters and their plight, rather than background stimuli.
Jamison’s focus on his own age demographic highlights his admitted desire to help others define their personal experience. He knows what they are going through, especially at a time when they are searching for meaning and attempting to understand life.
The first I will discuss here is my personal favourite. Abby and the Lights in the Sky tells of a young mother who is struggling after losing her baby. One night, strange lights appear outside the window, filling her with a sense of peace and closure. It used music in an interesting way, alongside subtle reactions, which often mean more than melodrama.
Just like you’d expect, Jamison’s later works all show a massive improvement in terms of technique. In progressing from short films to a possible future in features, he has begun to release a series of shorts that will combine to create a much larger story. These instalments: Park Bench, Bench Décès, and Statica Segment 1 are just the beginning of the series that promises to get darker. The latter two are in black and white, giving a noir-esque feel. The close framing and odd angles keep you off-balance, adding to the intrigue and showing Jamison, having mastered the basic filmic techniques, has moved onto using the shots to tell the story and not just capture the action.
Another instalment of an ongoing series is the endearing animated film Fink Forest Friends: The Invisible Honk. Though focused to a much younger demographic, it still portrayed a sense of morals, making it not just entertainment.
The Current Beneath is a stand-alone short film that uses an older cast and a more emotional take on death and loss. Telling its story in only a few minutes, the use of quick editing heightened the panic. It is one of the many works that Jamison has added a charity/cause credit to, with this one hitting close to home.
Telling a long tale in a short period of time, Mary Wollstonecraft of Sector Seventeen doesn’t feel like anything is left out. It is both funny and serious, and is similar to the Bench series in it’s use of black and white and shadow.
Whether or not we are aware of it, we all have a specific way of seeing the world. After watching a few films by Jamison, you will be able to identify a number of common elements that all illustrate his world view and areas of interest.
All stories tend to have a moral message behind them, and Jamison uses his own age experience to target his messages to young adults. His films include immaturity in relation to sex and relationship, but also the heavier subjects of the shortness of life and how not even the youth are immune to it.
No filmmaker is alone in creating their art. Despite the obvious influence the director has on the film and its meaning, it is the contribution of others and their ideas that make it a more comprehensive product. Some of Jamison’s frequent collaborators include his family, and friends Cody Theilman, Christopher Dinriquez, Evan Muehlbauer, and Lyman Johnson.
The human experience is one of trials and tribulations, with almost everyone just trying to do their best. By helping each other, we can not only ease the suffering of others, but bring joy to our own existence. Over the handful of years that Jamison Bright has been studying and honing his craft, he has done this by outwardly dedicating his works to known and lesser-known causes, and by his film themes. It is only by continuing to watch his creations that we will see his ideas and morals grow, entertaining and positively affecting more and more people around the globe.
You can find his works at the following links:
By Michelle Sommerville
There are films where all it takes it one look at the title and you just know what it is going to be about. For me, this was not one of those films. Before I even pressed play, my mind was filled with ideas and guesses, and I was excited to see if the truth would come anywhere near. Would it be straight forward, or an analogy for something greater? This was almost swept from my mind at the first display of animation. It was breathtaking, even in its apparent simplicity. It didn’t detract from the story, however, instead elevating it and bringing it to life.
It is not a good day for that poor kite. With a musical accompaniment but no dialogue, the audience follows the exploits of the title wayward kite. Cut off from the rest, it is hit by a vehicle, electrocuted by power lines, falls into a dumpster, and finds itself among the disgusting refuse at the tip. By this point it is little more than mere tatters clinging desperately to its frame. It breaks free of this too, now unencumbered but further weakening itself. A storm and rain threaten a final defeat, but almost through sheer will the kite perseveres.
The story of the film is simple, but can symbolise much deeper meaning. You find yourself questioning how closely you related to an inanimate object and its harrowing plight.
At this point I usually comment on the acting, which feels strange to do in a film like this. Somehow, the faceless kite was able to emote, and was a great leading man or woman.
Let me get one thing straight: the animation was phenomenal. From the first look at the kites at the beginning, I was brought into the world of the film. That’s what you need to do, bring the audience in, and The Wayward Kite certainly did this. Add to this the cityscape and huge advertisement boards, a-mazing!
The transitions were also flawless, seamlessly moving from one scene and setting to another.
Another unmistakably brilliant addition to this film was the emotional classical music accompaniment. It was not what you would expect in a cartoon, but elevated it from a more child-like target audience to those looking for the meaning behind the images.
In the last few years, animated short films have become a hit. Whether this is due to shortened attention spans or some other reason, it bodes well for this work. Already selected to screen internationally at well-respected film festivals, it seems this is only the beginning of success for both this film and its creators.
Not since Toy Story (1995) have I rooted so hard for an inanimate object. It held such personification and emotion. The animation was brilliant and made it an oddly relatable story. I have no idea how they achieved this, and I don’t really want to know lest it take away the magic.