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Animation Chico captivates with contest

Animation Chico Film Festival provides festival guides and pins to guests at the contestant check-in station. Photo credit: Grant Schmieding

The lights darkened and the door shut. Spectators gazed forward at the bright screen in the small theater. Broken only by pangs of laughter and applause, the room felt still as each short film gave the audience a glimpse inside the mind of its creator.

Animation Chico hosted its fourth annual Animation Chico Film Festival at the Chico Theater Company on Saturday. The organization looks to inform students and the public about the creative potential and affordability animation offers. Not every creative vision can be brought to life through typical film-making, but animation places no limits on the imagination—giving viewers a unique creative perspective in every piece.

Animation Chico Film Festival provides contestants with lanyards displaying sill frames of the films they created. Photo credit: Grant Schmieding
Photo station and waiting area in Chico Theater Company during Animation Chico's fourth annual film festival. Photo credit: Grant Schmieding

“Anything you can imagine, you can create,” Josh Funk, co-director of Animation Chico, said.

Funk, who also teaches 2D animation at Chico State, wants to break the intimidation associated with creating animation. He seeks to bolster the animation community in Chico by bringing professional and student animators together and letting them learn from each other.

In addition to the organizers, a decent number of people moved around the small venue—some wore lanyards with animation still frames displayed on the front. The event provided contestants with lanyards that displayed what films they had created.

Animation Chico accepted 39 films to be considered in the contest. Chico State students and locals created some of the films; however, most were international submissions.

After being around for four years, the organization is starting to gain more traction online—increasing the quality and quantity of its submissions. Funk predicts that next year will be Animation Chico’s largest year.

The contest features various types of animation, including Experimental 2D animation, computer animation and stop-motion animation. It also offers three cash prizes for first place, second place and best student animation.

Guillermo Gómez and Josh Funk talk on stage about Gómez's latest film, "The Squirrel and The Crow." Photo credit: Grant Schmieding
Guillermo Gómez heads to a showing of his film "The Squirrel and The Crow" during Animation Chico's fourth annual film festival. Photo credit: Grant Schmieding

Guillermo Gómez, one of the more experienced contestants, came from Sunnyvale to present and discuss his latest short film,“The Crow and the Squirrel.” The film, which included humor and heavy feminist undertones, got a hefty applause.

He explained that the idea for the film came to him when he looked at his backyard and saw a squirrel and a crow facing each other. Once he began animating, he realized that he could make the project into something more meaningful.

Gómez—who spent months writing, drawing, animating and editing this piece—thinks that animation provides artists with more creative freedom at a lower cost, despite how long it takes to complete.

“I’ve always been mesmerized by the art form,” he said.

Gómez can bring anything he imagines to life through animation. He doesn’t need permits, insurance for expensive equipment or advanced set pieces. He creates most of his short films through drawings and still frames, he said.

As he puts it, animation “doesn’t involve as much as live action but, in a way, there’s a little bit more.”

Individuals who want to submit a film, contact or get involved in the next contest can visit Animation Chico’s website.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.

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