Atlantic Filmmaker Focus - Shawn Zupan

The Atlantic Film Festival is a champion of Atlantic Canadian filmmakers. In keeping with this promise, every month we profile some of the most incredibly talented people in the filmmaking industry today. This month, we look at youth filmmaker, Shawn Zupan.
Shawn was the 2013 Green Screen grand prize winner at last year's Viewfinders: Atlantic Film Festival for youth, with his short animation, INCANDESCENT.  

Currently, there are two film competitions being offered by ViewFinders so we decided to talk to Shawn about his experience and what's in his future.

The NBCUniversal and Green Screen Film Competitions are two video contests presented by the 
ViewFinders: Atlantic Film Festival for Youth in Halifax and Dartmouth, April 6-12.

To participate in these competitions, youth under the age of 18 are invited to submit films by March 14.
The top entries will be eligible for over $5,000 in prizes and will be screened at the event in April.


DOB: April 9, 1996
From: Mount Pearl, Newfoundland

Currently Residing: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Working On: Right now, I am working on another short, stop-motion paper animation, tentatively called “Moon Man”. The film will explore 2D animation, in 3D space.

AFF: What first got you interested in film?
SZ: I first got interested because of the endless possibilities that go hand in hand with film.  My imagination could come to reality through film and filmmaking.
AFF: What, in your opinion, makes a good film?
SZ: A good film grabs your attention and keeps you entertained all the way through. I think a film that can really make you feel something, whether it is positive or negative makes for a good film… When it has you thinking about it the next day.
AFF: What is your favourite movie?
SZ: My favorite movie is either AMERICAN PSYCHO or DONNIE SARKO, or the classic, TOY STORY, of course.
AFF: What was the inspiration for INCANDESCENT?
SZ: The original inspiration for INCANDESCENT was the idea of taking something mostly unthought-of, such as the recycling process of a water bottle, and playing around with it. I knew I wanted an environmental message while exploring the idea of giving life to a non-human object.
AFF: How long did it take you to make?
SZ: The film was made over the course of several months, with seven intense days of stop motion animating.
AFF: Were there any challenges in making INCANDESCENT?
SZ: Because of the nature of the animation, the biggest challenge was keeping the consistency in the hundreds of paper cut outs being switched in and out for every frame. Another big problem I faced was lighting the set.
AFF: What was your favorite part of making the film?
SZ: My favorite part about making INCANDESCENT was the challenges that came with it, or more specifically figuring out the solution to the problems.  I love working with the simplicity of pen and paper. It feels like a sort of “back to the basics” of drawing, which can be very refreshing.
AFF: What was more exciting, winning the Green Screen Film Competition or seeing your film up on the big screen?
SZ: Being able to see my film, and other local short films on the big screen is such an incredible experience that gives a feeling of, “Hey Mom! I did it!” To have my film recognized by not only professional members of the local film industry within ViewFinders, but also RRFB was such an honor.

AFF: Do you think you will be a writer, producer, director, actor…what will be your main career?
SZ: In the future I would love to continue doing animation. I would like to explore new ways of animation with unconventional techniques and messing around with different materials and technology.
AFF: What’s next after high school?
SZ: After high school, I am looking to apply to the Film Animation program at Concordia University.
AFF: What advice would you give to a young filmmaker such as yourself?
SZ: The best advice I could give a young filmmaker is to remember the main theme of what you are working on. While doing any sort of creative project, it can be easy to lose inspiration. Don’t lose sight of your goal!
Thanks for hanging with us, Shawn! We'll see you at this year’s ViewFinders!
You can watch Shawn's, award winning, animated short film INCANDESCENT, here on YouTube!