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Student-Produced Animated Short Films Gain International Recognition

The official poster for the animated short film, “Chasing Nutcracker”.

Animated short films produced by Malaysian college students shined during the recent winners’ announcement of the 2023 Three Acts of Goodness International Microfilm Contest. These groups of final-year students from The One Academy’s Digital Animation and Illustration majors worked together in creating heart-warming masterpieces that won the hearts and votes of many.

Organised by the Buddha’s Light International Association International, this contest seeks to spread truth, kindness, and beauty of the world in response to the Three Acts of Goodness – “do good deeds, speak good words, and think good thoughts”. This contest aims to inspire talents in different regions to present the most beautiful and kindest stories in life in microfilm format, joining together to promote love and peace in the world.

The theme this year is ‘Wabi-Sabi’, a worldview that sees the beauty in imperfection, appreciates simplicity, and accepts that change is inevitable. Submissions came in from 120 countries around the world with 3,146 works and narrowing down to 67 finalists.

Key art for the short film by The One Academy’s Illustration major students.

Key art for the short film by The One Academy’s Illustration major students.

In the Animation category, “Chasing Nutcracker” won the Second Prize, taking home US$8,000 in prize money. It is a story of a nutcracker who awakens in a magical toy factory and wants to become a Christmas gift like the others. However, with a defective arm, he finds himself being pursued by the factory’s robotic overseer to be dismantled. The message behind the story is that of self-worth, and that when we truly see the value in one another, we become complete.

“The inspiration for our film originated from my childhood fantasy of Christmas, which has always been my favourite season of all time. Growing up, I’ve always wondered if Santa Claus does exist, as well as where would Santa’s toy factory be and how it looks like,” revealed Ally Teo Pei Wen, the co-director and original storywriter.

“Chasing Nutcracker” is the effort of a 24-member team of 13 Digital Animation and 11 Illustration diploma students of The One Academy, taking about one year of production to complete. “It feels amazing to get some recognition for the hard work that we put into it. The filmmaking process was deeply collaborative. Numerous roles were assigned to each teammate, many of them taking leadership roles to supervise their respective departments. As the Line Producer, it was my responsibility to make sure the gears were well oiled for communication,” explained Ariz Bryan Shah.

“A big challenge was getting familiar with roles that we weren’t formally trained for. Lighting, set dressing and compositing required us to fall back on our fundamentals, pushing us out of our creative comfort zones,” he added.

“It wasn’t an easy ride as inexperienced students, to be recognized and appreciated for our hard work means the world to us. It was a big learning curve for all of us, dipping our toes on what the industry is like,” said Alfathiyya Nayla Adisha, the director.

“Our main goal was to express for people of all ages to feel that they belong, to realize their self-worth whether it comes from yourself or from others. We hope that from this reward, it can bring in more attention to every artists for generations to come,” she added.

Key art for the short film by The One Academy’s Illustration major students.

Key art for the short film by The One Academy’s Illustration major students.

She also mentioned that the learning at The One Academy has helped them gain a better understanding of how the industry is like, in terms of the production pipeline, workflow, problem-solving, and how important communication is when working as a team. Encouragement from the lectures and great amounts of feedback also helped in shaping their skills and short film to be a solid industry standard.

Representing the team, Ally Teo Pei Wen was invited to attend the ceremony held at the Fo Guang Shan Tathagata Hall in Taiwan as part of the Top 3 Winners. Apart from “Chasing Nutcracker”, several films by The One Academy students were also crowd favourites. The Judge Recommendation Award and US$2,000 went to “Journey”, while “Chime”, “Solace”, “My Love” and “Dead Da” received Honorable Mention and US$600 each. “Strings” and “Veggie Go Round” also earned the Three Acts of Goodness Award and US$300 each.

These remarkable feats by Malaysian students who shine with their hard work and outstanding effort on the global stage truly brings pride and recognition to our country.

A group photo of the Three Acts of Goodness International Microfilm Contest taken during the prize ceremony in Taiwan. Ally Teo Pei Wen is pictured on the far right in a white dress.

The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, which has been practised for over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science & Game Design. For more information, visit www.toa.edu.my or call 03-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].

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