Sumo Roll: 2 Years Later

I get asked a lot: how was it making Sumo Roll?

Simply put...it was hell.

Sure it was fun, challenging, and ultimately rewarding, but during those long two years from 2011-13 I hated my life. I never showed it or really told anyone but deep inside I felt like I was getting weaker by the week, more miserable by the day, and for the first time ever I was losing touch with my closest friends.

Early version storyboard panels.

I cried sometimes. Not like how I cried when Mufasa died, but there were tears that formed from mental exhaustion and incessant contemplation. I don't think I had ever felt that way before, at least not with something I had complete control over, which made it more stressful. Even with so much support from wonderful classmates, friends, and mentors, I was on my own most of the time just from the nature of my project.  

Working with tiny, fragile objects (such as these chopsticks) required extra focus.

In my head I kept asking myself "will it all be worth it?" but I struggled with finding an answer. Later, that question evolved into "what will make it all worth it?" and one answer always came into my mind: if people watch it & enjoy it. Some smiles, a few laughs, and applause was all I really wanted.

The animation set taking up my living room space. 

The final thesis review would determine whether or not I would be graduating the following week. I recall having only slept about 8 hours over a span of 3 days leading up to that review. I still don't know how I did that, I didn't even take any drugs or caffeine; I suppose it was an unhealthy combination of adrenaline, fear, and determination. I swear I hallucinated while driving down Hoover on the final review day. I want to never experience that again.

Above my shot list is an encouraging memo from Stacy (every bit of support counted).

Even after passing my thesis review, I still had a lot left to do: final musical score, mixing sound, color correction, rig removal, and so on. As painful as it already was, I owed it to everyone that helped me during this journey to go out on a high note. I ended up spending an additional year polishing my film post-graduation. I was mostly unemployed during that time which was depressing, but working on the final touches of my film kept me going. 

Celebrated by eating Toro sushi for the first time in my life!

The film was completed and shared with the public on May 15, 2013. It had a successful festival run as it was screened in big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. Even cooler, it screened around the world in several countries such as Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Ukraine mostly for children's festivals. I was also rejected from many festivals, but I didn't care—I like to think that they missed out on an awesome sushi film ;)

Thanks to everyone who had a part in the making of this film, you know who you are. By allowing me to share my vision with you I was able to create something that has generated enjoyment I never would have imagined.