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Sisler CREATE students set for showcase

June 14, 2021
Sisler - CREATE Showcase

A year in the making, Sisler High School students are stoked to show off their animated shorts. 

Rise Up Animation is set to host a student animation showcase on June 24 at 7:30 p.m., which will include work from Sisler CREATE program students, as well as Burbank High School and Los Angeles Unified School District in California. Attendees can register for the virtual event here.

Sisler students will be screening three animated short films from its Orange Tree Project, a partnership between the Sisler CREATE program and Nickelodeon Community Efforts (NiCE). 

“This showcase provides our CREATE students with an incredible opportunity,” said Jamie Leduc, Sisler CREATE department head.

“By having Rise Up Animation and NiCE on board, they will access an incredible audience of high-level animators and industry professionals from across the continent. Watching these students develop their skills has been a highlight of my career. I am so incredibly proud of their work and cannot wait for it to be seen.”

Launched in September of last year, the Orange Tree Project sees Sisler students connecting with Nickelodeon mentors to create and collaborate on animated stories. 

The three Nickelodeon mentors are American storyboard artist Mark Galez and Canadian animators Kyle Marshall and Jessica Borutski, directors on the TV series The Loud House.

On May 25, Sisler CREATE held its final mentorship meeting, where students screened their finished films for Galez, Marshall and Bortutski, as well as Nickelodeon director of community outreach Carson Smith, Frogbot Films founder Monica Lago-Kaytis and Toon Boom Animation educational sales director Bernard Boiteux.

During the meeting, Sisler CREATE post-high students Nya Langit, Jemimah Suba and Gab Reyes introduced their respective short films. The three Orange Tree Project team leaders recently received full scholarships to Vancouver Film School through The Walter and Maria Schroeder Foundation.

Langit’s team created an animated short titled Ikaw Muna, which is Tagalog for “you first.”   The film follows a young boy who is sent into a forest by his annoyed older sister to retrieve a ball. In the forest, the boy meets a perturbed trollish figure who casts a transformative spell on the boy.  

“We pitched a couple story ideas to Kyle Marshall on a Monday in October and he thought both storylines were good, but not good enough,” said Langit, 19. 

“There were a lot of holes. We had five days to either merge both stories or come up with something completely new. Somehow we managed to merge them and come up with something new at the same time. We presented it to Kyle the following Friday and he absolutely loved it.” 

Suba’s team produced an animated short called Eclipse. The story follows two witchy sisters who squabble over a potion and accidentally create a monstrous blob.  

Suba said Borutski was an excellent mentor to her team, who provided constructive criticism while also respecting their creative vision.

“They can give us as much advice as they want, but at the end of the day, it’s our project,” Suba said. “That was the most important thing that Jessica told me, that I don’t have to continuously use everybody’s critique. It really alleviated the stress of having to apply everything that everyone was saying to us, but we also learned how to apply the most important things.”

Reyes’ team produced an animated short titled Grim Companion. A dark yet sweet tale, the short follows Death as he’s begrudgingly befriended by a departed dog. 

“My mentor was Mark Galez. He’s the chilliest mentor I’ve ever had,” Reyes said. “He talked to us not so much as a mentor, but as a friend.”

“Of course he gave us criticism and advice on our story, like how to improve visual language and how to use better camera shots and cuts. But, he also talked to us about what he’s doing for work. He gave us some casual insight on what his work is like.”

After the shorts were screened, the industry professionals all expressed their amazement at the quality of the material coming out of Sisler.

“I’ve seen the videos that are coming from the top animation schools across the U.S. and I’ve never seen a high school program like Sisler’s that has blown some of the big name schools out of the water,” Boiteux said. 

“Mark, Jess and I, we’re all really concerned for our jobs. We see you all coming,” Marshall said.   

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