10-year-old award-winning artist and film critic Perry Chen from San Diego, California, has a very unique task. He will be using his talents to help other children of many cultures learn the importance of the Holocaust.
Done using Toon Boom Studio, Beyond The Forest is an animated short film based on the experience of Holocaust survivor, Ingrid Pitt, who later became a major film and television star. Pitt and her family were imprisoned by the Nazis in the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland in 1942. She spent ages five through eight in the camp, and miraculously escaped with her mother in 1945.
Five minute long, the short film depicts Pitt’s struggle and ultimate survival, which is based on part of her best-selling autobiography, Life’s a Scream. The characters and storyboards for the animated film Beyond the Forest were created and drawn by two-time Academy Award nominee Bill Plympton.A celebrated animator for more than 25 years, Plympton was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988 for Your Face and again in 2005 for Guard Dog. In July 2009, Perry came face-to-face with Bill Plympton and producer / director Kevin Sean Michaels (The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels). Flawlessly, Chen sketched a Plympton’s character right along side the original drawing. Impressed, Plympton and Michaels thought Chen would be a good candidate as an artist for Beyond the Forest. This is the very first time that the multiple award-winning animator Bill Plympton partners with a young child artist for an animated film.
Chen will be creating thousands of pencil drawings using Toon Boom Studio’s powerful drawing tools and a Wacom Intuos tablet. The animation is black and white, in a simple and realistic style, similar to that in Bill Plympton’s Annie Award-winning short The Fan and the Flower.
Perry will use Bill Plympton's storyboard (23 sketches) and character designs as the basis for drawing. Because Perry’s drawing style is very similar to Bill Plympton’s as shown in the character design pencil tests, Perry will closely follow Plympton’s original sketches to make his final drawings for the animation.
Perry will create a preliminary pencil test using Plympton’s storyboard in stage 1, then create over a thousand sequential drawings on the tablet based on the pencil test and feedback from Plympton and director Michaels. The drawings will be in full synchronization with the sound file of narration by Ingrid Pitt which has been completed.
Perry will be the sole animator for this 5-minute animation film. Bill Plympton and director Kevin Sean Michaels will provide guidance and feedback along the way. The film’s executive producer and Perry’s mother, Zhu Shen, will facilitate the interactions between Plympton, Michaels, and Perry.
Beyond the Forest is slated to premiere at film festivals in 2011 and will surely garner significant recognition from the animation community.