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.
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