The Black Disquisition

Creative Direction and Effects
Project Overview
In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, we set out to answer the question, "can you make a film with no one in the same room, and no money?" The resulting short is the product of a myriad of talents making do with nothing but the resources available at their own hands. It tells a story that is familiar to so many: what is it like to suddenly be aware that you are Black in America.
My Contributions
Inspired by the techniques used to create the Amazon show Undone, I knew I wanted to build 3D environments and pre-viz with the director Quincy Ledbetter, then turn them over as completed plates to a series of fine artists who would render them in gouache.
The Black Disquisition
Creative Direction and Effects
Pandemic Lockdown, 2020
Live action footage was shot by our cast of A-list actors in their own homes (or in the case of Rusty Schwimmer, outdoors in Lincoln Park). Originally I was going to hand paint each frame, but I was spared a lifetime bent over the Cintiq, with the discovery of the fine folks at Cartoonizer. 

Engineers Tejas and Niraj had written a machine learning algorithm that could ape the look of rotoscoped films such as Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. It was a visually appealing compromise. The Cartoonizer effect leant an otherworldly air to the short. Still, since the footage was shot on iPhones with the intention of being traced over manually, much work had to be done keying and separating the actors from their backgrounds, removing lavalier mics and chasing errant hair.

The resulting seven minute short has gone on to appear in more than eleven film festivals, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, Urbanworld and Woodstock. Is has garnering several awards in the process.