Bringing Mother to Life

Blog Feature Image Watch the Annie-nominated film Mother on Vimeo

The Annie-nominated animated short film Mother tells the story of a mother pushed to her breaking point as she struggles to juggle the multiple demands of caring for young family.

Mother is the work of ten Sheridan Animation students: Stephanie Chiew, Joan Chung, Ana Gomez, David Du, Seeyun Lee, Jessica Jing, Nick Nason, Rui Hao, Matthew Fazari, and Dadi Wang. They are known collectively as Studio Kokorosh, and the film was their third-year final project, completed in Spring 2015.

Mother’s story is both deeply personal and strikingly universal. The team’s Production Manager, Joan Chung reveals that the inspiration for the story came from a conversation with her own mother. Her mother described the challenges that Joan’s grandmother faced as she was raising her own family during the Korean War. While both her grandparents had to work to support their family, Joan’s grandmother also had to tend to the family’s many everyday needs and remain the emotional centre of their family unit. This is a struggle faced by mothers all over the world: “Women are put in such a multi-dimensional role as caretakers, looking after their families’ well-being but also acting as the family’s emotional core,” explains Chung.

The message resonated instantly with the team, and they set out to craft a film that was true to the origins of their inspiration.

To create Mother’s distinct, soft visual style, the team drew inspiration from traditional Korean and Japanese paintings, such as the works of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, as well as Korean children’s books that Joan had read as a child. Mother’s dialogue is entirely in Korean. “The cultural aspect of this story was very important to us,” says the team’s second production manager, Stephanie Chiew. Guided by Sheridan Animation Professor, Tony Tarantini, the team worked hard over the course of almost eight months to bring their vision to life.

It’s clear from meeting members of Studio Kokorosh that they value their team experience of making Mother immensely. Describing the team’s process, Chiew notes that they made it a priority to ensure everyone’s work was valued and everyone could contribute in a meaningful way – from storyboarding, to sound effects, layout painting, music, and of course, animation. “As a team, we wanted to make sure everyone gained something from making this film, and we all had the opportunity to learn from each other,” she says.

Now fourth-year students, the members of Studio Kokorosh are applying the lessons they learned making Mother to their challenge this year: individual animated films. “I’m following the process we learned from making Mother, but now that I know what worked and what didn’t, it’s more efficient,” says David Du, one of the storyboard supervisors on Mother.

Mother was screened at 12 film festivals worldwide in 2015. The film is nominated for Best Student Film at the 2016 Annie Awards, and all the members of Studio Kokorosh will be attending the February 6th ceremony in Los Angeles, with Sheridan’s support.

You can watch Mother here.

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