Director/animator Jason Carpenter won The Walt Disney Studios prize for a student film at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his film The Renter. The prize was announced in a ceremony in Ottawa last week. Jason teams with his brother Michael in their boutique Carpenter Bros. Animation which is represented by 6 Point Media for commercial spot-making. The team is best known for promo, title and theme park work for a range of clients including Warner Bros. and Disney.
Carpenter’s winning project was started when he was a student in the CalArts graduate program in experimental animation. It tells the story of a young boy who is babysat each day at the farm of an elderly woman. In addition to watching the boy, (that is when she’s awake), the woman also rents a room out to a mysterious man. The film focuses on the confusing and odd activity the boy observes in the strange behavior of the distant figure in the rented room. The screenplay is based on his own childhood experiences during the time his parents arranged his day care with Mommy Eldridge, an elderly Greensboro North Carolina woman who ran a daycare in her home.
Carpenter feels that the topic allowed him to stretch the animation genre into more serious and adult character portrayal than is typical in cartoons. Quoted in his college alma mater NC State’s alumni paper, he said, “Animation can do a lot more than tell silly stories and funny jokes. Animation is a really deep art form. I think in other countries it’s a little easier to find animation that’s not slapstick. Animation can do anything.”
The Renter has been nominated for other major awards, including the Annie Award and the Student Academy Award. Recently Carpenter has been busy on the festival circuit. So far the film has traveled to Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Australia and South America and has played extensively in the U.S. and Canada. It also won the jury award at the Atlanta Film Festival for best animated short, which makes it a qualifier for Academy Award nomination.