Gordon Bietz wrote the Fenton Forest stories when he was a pastor, several years ago. The stories were aimed at tackling complex church issues in a way that was relatable. This year, the Junior Collaborative class is adapting one of the Fenton Forest stories into a short animated film this year. Their particular story follows the tale of Freddy the Fox and Anthony the Ant through their struggle to understand each other’s perspective of a mushroom.
Circe Bogart is a junior animation major currently working on the Fenton Forest short film. She was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding her involvement with the project.
When did you become involved with the project?
Last semester, Zach had asked me to work on an animatic for the project when Jim Turner was still heading up the project. The animatic was presented to Southern and to the rest of the animation department as well, in the hopes of being funded. Unfortunately that fell through, but the project was presented as a potential project for the Junior Collaborative project. Since a lot of work was already done, we already had a direction to go, models had already been built, so the class decided as a whole it may be easier in the long run.
What is your role now?
I am the director of Fenton Forest. That probably happened because Zach really wanted a senior to direct it. He didn’t get any seniors on board so I put myself out there. I worked on a three person project over the summer under a friend who was directing, so I felt like I could bring some experience to the project. Since I had worked on the animatic, I already knew what Jim was going for and I embraced that vision.
What challenges have you faced as director?
I need to learn communication, that’s a big one for me. Our group is very friendly and open which is great, but as a leader, I’m not super experienced yet. I wanted the experienced though, so that’s a good thing. I might have been overconfident because I saw what my friend did during the summer and I thought I knew what a director does. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself and I feel like I’m not doing a good job. I guess in the end time will tell!
What is the production process like for Fenton?
We’re not working linearly this year. We’re working alongside the rigger and the modeler and the designer all together. We’re all trading off at the same time. We are all depending on each other right here, right now kind of thing. We don’t want to have problems down the line, that’s our goal.
Do you feel like the project has stayed true to the original story?
I feel like Jim really did that. I feel like he brought something new to what the original story was but was very faithful to the original at the same time. I feel like being faithful to Jim’s vision will help me; the essence is still there. My hope is that I’ve succeeded in keeping the spirit and he [Bietz] will think so when or if he watches it.
What’s something that helps keep you excited about the project?
Whenever I see progress I feel the excitement again. When I see something new, when I see something come together I feel it all over again, which is really great, it’s encouraging.