Eusong Lee, a 2013 graduate of California Institute of the Arts in Valencia (Film/Video BFA), is one of 13 students from nine U.S. colleges and universities – plus three students from foreign universities – to win a Student Academy Award in this year’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences competition.
Lee is one of three winners in the animation category.
Overall, three of the 38 nominees this year were CalArts students.
Lee won for his powerful short film, “Will,” which tackles issues of love and loss in the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
The 2013 Student Academy Awards ceremony will be held Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m., at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Student Academy Awards are not called Oscars, and winners receive a medal instead of a statuette.
CalArts was equally well represented in 2012 when a Student Academy Award went to Santa Clarita resident and CalArts alum David Wolter. (Check it out here.)
The following is an e-mail interview with Lee, conducted by CalArts media relations staff.
Q: What inspired you to create the storyline that’s depicted in Will?
Unlike my other films, this film started with the music. There was already music, composed by the super talented and amazing Julian Kleiss, and then I made a film for it. This movie was going to be a music video, so I started with Julian’s initial inspiration and themes. Then I researched and added story elements such as character and metaphor, also drawing inspiration from a page of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the technique(s) you used to create the animation for the film?
I did all the background work in Photoshop and the animation in Flash.
Q: Who are the filmmakers that inspire you?
The only filmmaker who comes to mind is David Fincher. He is my favorite director, but I don’t know if I can say I am inspired nor influenced, since I am quite scared of being influenced or inspired too much.
Q: Why do you feel that being influenced or inspired too much is scary?
Nowadays, people have access to a lot of information, so it’s not hard to be influenced or be inspired. That’s why it’s important to focus on oneself. It’s inevitable that my thoughts are already biased and influenced but it’s better than knowing where my thoughts are directly coming from. I guess I wish to be unique.
One article once described my style of illustration and animation as trendy minimalism, which I feel is quite true. However, the reason why my animation is minimalist and geometric is because I couldn’t get used to drawing on a tablet, so I ended up using the lasso tool a lot when drawing and the art ended up being geometric (laughs). It’s silly, but I like those kinds of situations wherein I can come up with something or solve a problem by thinking alone for a long time.
Q: What is your next project?
My next film is about a princess and a robot. Typical princess films might soon disappear, for good or bad, but I think there are still untapped possibilities for them, and I am working on one.
Q: Can you tell me your favorite CalArts moment or experience?
I have a lot of favorite moments. All the nights spent working late and the sunrises. Also, dreaming about a promising future and being angry about my work was fun, in retrospect. I had an unusual college life with my friends at CalArts and it was amazing.
Eusong Lee (director) | Visual Development, Story, Animation
Julian Kleiss (composer & musician)
Dario Barrera (Voice)
Paul Fraser (Sound Designer)
Tomio Ueda (co-arrangement & mixing)
AMPAS Press Release:
Thirteen students from nine U.S. colleges and universities as well as three students from foreign universities have been selected as winners in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards competition. They will be brought to Los Angeles for a week of industry activities that will culminate in the awards ceremony, hosted by 1978 Student Academy Award winner and comedian Bob Saget, on Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
This year saw first-time honors go to Elon University, Occidental College and the University of Michigan in the U.S. competition, as well as to Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, and RITS School of Arts, Belgium, in the foreign competition. The medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in each of the award categories will be announced at the June 8 ceremony.
The winners are (listed alphabetically by film title):
“Bottled Up,” Rafael Cortina, Occidental College
“The Compositor,” John Mattiuzzi, School of Visual Arts
“Zug,” Perry Janes, University of Michigan
“Dia de los Muertos,” Lindsey St. Pierre and Ashley Graham, Ringling College of Art and Design
“Peck Pocketed,” Kevin Herron, Ringling College of Art and Design
“Will,” Eusong Lee, California Institute of the Arts
“Every Tuesday: A Portrait of The New Yorker Cartoonists,” Rachel Loube, School of Visual Arts
“A Second Chance,” David Aristizabal, University of Southern California
“Win or Lose,” Daniel Koehler, Elon University
“Josephine and the Roach,” Jonathan Langager, University of Southern California
“Ol’ Daddy,” Brian Schwarz, University of Texas at Austin
“Un Mundo para Raúl (A World for Raúl),” Mauro Mueller, Columbia University
“Miss Todd,” Kristina Yee, National Film and Television School, United Kingdom
“Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland
“Tweesprong (Crossroads),” Wouter Bouvijn, RITS School of Arts, Erasmus College Brussels, Belgium
To reach this stage, U.S. students competed in one of three regional competitions. Each region is permitted to send up to three finalists in each of the four categories. The Student Academy Awards Executive Committee screened and voted on the finalists in the Foreign Film category.
The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past Student Academy Award® winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar® nominations and have won or shared eight awards. The roster includes such distinguished filmmakers as John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee.
The 40th Student Academy Awards ceremony on June 8 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required. Tickets are available online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office, or by mail. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.