Short Film of the Week: The Terrible Thing of Alpha 9

This film short broke our hearts a little bit, you bastard. How did you go about making it?

Short Film - The Big Thing

Animated short film

This film was made as a part of my senior project for my degree at School of Visual Arts. I made it in about a year, and it was drawn 99.9% in Flash. I drew it entirely on a Cintiq that was in the lab at the school, so I pretty much lived there for a year. It was rough being on a project so long, but I’d totally do it again if I could get the chance.

What are the joys and pitfalls of making a short animated film?

Short Film - The Big Thing

Animated short film

I’ll start with the pitfalls. Number one is easy: MONEY. In the US, you can’t really find much money to make independent work. In the case of this film, I went crazy into school debt. For the next one, I’ll be saving up from work on doing the opposite: commercial work. I’ve even thought about trying to see if I can get a studio in France to support making something. Number two is advertising, which is really difficult to do with no money, but is gradually getting way easier with the internet.

For the joys, it just feels really good to make something and know a great deal of it is yours. I got a ton of help from all the great people listed in my credits, so it’s not entirely mine. Still, that community effort in making something you and friends really want to make is a really great feeling. I’d say that wins above all.

What was the best part of making this lovely, lovely little short film?

Short Film - The Big Thing

Animated short film

When I made it, like anyone who’s ever made anything, I put it out there not knowing if it was good. Sure I was proud of it, but you know, you always doubt this stuff. When my friend Amid Amidi wanted to put it online, I was totally floored. When it got a great response from the internet people, I was absolutely beside myself. I think having to finally admit that it was a pretty good film was difficult, but a really amazing feeling overall.

And the worst part?

I don’t save Flash files very often, regrettably. I was working for half the day on a scene. It was a hard one and I’d powered through it, doing all rough and clean animation in that time, when a person across from me turns off her computer and so slightly bumps the power cord. It wasn’t by any means her fault, but it caused my computer to instantly turn off and back on. I lost the entire scene. I was mortified and had to take a nap and start again on another scene a little later. Admittedly, that’s the worst thing that happened since I was using a computer and backing up often. I hate to think of how bad it could be if I were using film.

If we wanted to stalk you, how would we do it?

I’d love it if people visited my blog! It’s called Jake Draws and you can find my short film and Vimeo account from that.

Are you a short film maker?

If you have a short film on YouTube, get in touch at [email protected] or nominate it below. We’d love to hear from you – maybe your film short could become our next Short Film of the Week!

Spread the word…

About The Author