Section: Arts

Carley Townsend’s ’20 stop-motion film wows at Trinity Film Fest

Carley Townsend’s ’20 stop-motion film wows at Trinity Film Fest

A screenshot from Townsend's short film Ordinary Day, which is available on YouTube.

The Trinity Film Fest is a national competition for collegiate filmmakers  across the world. This past weekend, the festival held a virtual screening of 17 films that were chosen as finalists, two of which were the work of Kenyon students. Last week, we profiled Natalie Berger’s ’20 and Sam Brodsky’s ’21 documentary Closure. This week, the Collegian looks at the other film included in the festival, Ordinary Day by Carley Townsend ’20. It follows the daily routine of an“elderly, posh cassette tape” who is stuck watching television each and every day of her mundane life. The film’s description on YouTube asks, “What happens when you’re overwhelmed by the same monotony, day by day?”

The stop-motion film opens with a close-up of a tiny TV and other props around the living room, crafted from tin foil, clay, paper and similar materials, as well as the main character, the cassette tape. The tape sits in her living room, covered in tin foil to emphasize her facial expression and wearing a hat. “She [the tape] grabs the remote and starts switching through channels when a program about outer space catches her attention,” Townsend described in an email to the Collegian. “She begins to imagine herself in space, and her imagination transports herself there, only for her to be brought back to the mundane reality that is the overwhelming boredom of watching TV each and every day.”

A film of less than two minutes, it was originally an assignment for Professor Esslinger’s Still/Moving: Stop-Motion Animation class (ARTS 264). “Esslinger told us to find household items to use in our film. I found a few things at Goodwill as well as a Fieldmedic cassette tape that my friend had given to me after I missed his concert at the Horn [Gallery] a couple years ago,” Townsend wrote.

The short film takes inspiration from the life of Townsend’s grandmother, which it is loosely based on. “Toward the end of her life, [she] became forgetful and could really only manage making herself meals and watching television. It’s a bit grim, but this memory of her really sticks in my mind,” Townsend said.

The cassette tape in the film represents Townsend’s grandmother using her imagination to transport herself elsewhere. The use of tinfoil, specifically wrinkled tinfoil, for the cassette alludes to old age.

The stop-motion film features a variety of materials, lighting and audio. After a few weeks of conceptualizing and producing the that she is grateful for the support film, Townsend estimates the total project took at least 20 hours of actual filming and 10 hours of editing. Having only recently fallen in love with filmmaking, Townsend said that it’s “so exciting to create my own project, do all the research and then go out and make it happen.”

Townsend would like to express that she is grateful for the support of her friends and loved ones, as well as such an opportunity to be creative. She encourages anyone curious about filmmaking to try it. “I think they’d be surprised by what they can do,” she said.

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