Daniel Savage: Helium Harvey

Not sold on the idea of going back to school? Neither was Daniel Savage.

The NYC-based designer/director just released his animated short, “Helium Harvey,” a labor of love that doubled as self-directed education:

After much debate on whether to go to graduate school or not, I decided I would take part of 2013 off to explore storytelling and character driven narrative on my own. I turned down most commercial jobs (except the really exciting ones), read as many books as I could, explored things outside of my comfort zone, and made “Helium Harvey.”

It was completely self funded, teaching a few classes at NYU and online, as well as select freelance projects to help pay for it.

Q&A with Daniel Savage

Let’s rewind to before you decided to make Helium Harvey. You were considering going to grad school, right? Why?

I come from a graphic design background, so jumping into character driven narrative isn’t an easy task. It’s a different way of thinking. But I love the idea of cartoons and technology meeting, so that’s where my interest is.

Originally, I wanted to make a story app, but I felt I had a lot to learn in animation first.

How did you come to the idea of making a short film?
I guess it’s what everyone comes out of school with, so it made the most sense. Plus I had the idea of Harvey for a while, so I wanted to make that.

Do you feel that making Helium Harvey was a good substitute for going back to school? Or was it a different kind of learning?
It’s tough to say. I’m sure I would have a better film if I was surrounded by other people in the same situation, but I like to learn the hard way. When someone tells me something it goes in one ear and out the other. I think it depends on the person.

Looking back, are you happy you decided not to go to school? Are you considering still going in the future?
I am happy, it was a great year. I don’t think I will go back, I will always take a class here or there though.

How hard was it to fund everything yourself?
Not very hard, it was really about time more than money. My rent is super cheap, I was on my lovely girlfriend’s health insurance, and having a skill I’ve developed (After Effects animation) that I could help other people learn was my biggest asset. People got something valuable out of it, and I got enough money to make a film. I still took on a few fun jobs, which also helped pay for it.

For those that are thinking of doing the same thing, can you give them advice/warnings?
I would take it slow, do a month here and there (being freelance helps) to practice new skills before jumping into a project as overwhelming as a film.

Making of “Helium Harvey”

The making of montage is bursting with goodies, from concept art to time-lapsed After Effects sessions.

Orchestra Recording Session

There’s something magical about watching an orchestra perform a soundtrack live.

Credits

Written, Directed & Animated: Daniel Savage
Title Designer: Dave Foster
Additional 2D FX: Jay Quercia
Digital Ink & Paint: Christina Lu
Audio Post services by Impossible Acoustic
Sound Designer and Re-recording Mixer: Brendan J. Hogan
Foley Artist: Jamie Hunsdale
Mixed at Clatter&Din studios
Music: Cyrille Marchesseau
Performed by: Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra
Conducted by: Oleg Kontradenko
Music Mixer: Rodolphe Gervais
Music Thanks: Aude Nassieu Maupas, Boban Apostolov, Georgii Hristovski
Special Thanks: Tricia Desjardins, Mom and the former Savages, Cody Murray, Alex Mapar, Amid Amidi, Jerry Liu, Dark Igloo

Tags: , , , ,

About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer and F5. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

Join Motionographer on Patreon!

For as little as 7 cents a day, join our Patreon community and shape Motionographer's future!

  • Fantastic work, dude. This crazy self-teaching scheme totally worked and I for one, am inspired!

  • So dope! Such inspiring work & process. You da man Dan!

  • Ricardo Leceta

    Great work, congratulaciones.
    Thank for share.

  • jspool

    Really great work. Very inspiring.

  • Impressing, impressing, good job, make more, Bravo