Thursday, November 22, 2007

Clip from the film Yellow Sticky Notes

Here's a clip from my latest animated film, Yellow Sticky Notes. The original film is 6 minutes long. This particular clip is an animated self reflection of my thoughts on 9-11. Keep checking my blog for updates on screenings of Yellow Sticky Notes! Also check out for screening info in your area.

Yellow Sticky Notes wins Animasian Award at the 2007 Reel Asian International Film Festival!


“Being awarded the first annual Animasian Award means a great deal to me and it was completely unexpected, due in part, to the fact that I world premiered my film Yellow Sticky Notes at the Toronto Reel Asian this year. I had no idea before I screened the film to an audience for the first time, if people would even like it. I was extremely happy to find out that the audience and judges responded very well to the film. Personally, the film was such a personal extension of who I am and who I’ve grown to be, that I didn’t even care if anyone liked the film or not. By animating on over 2300 yellow sticky notes, it was a great way to express my hectic lifestyle as an animation filmmaker and reflect on past world events and environmental issues. Although, I must say, I am relieved to know that people enjoyed the film at the festival this year!

I really want to thank the Reel Asian for all their support and believing in my projects. In 2005, my film, “What Are You Anyways?” screened at the festival and was invited to attend my screening. During the festival, I was blown away by the hospitality of all the staff, volunteers, delegates, and fellow filmmakers. So when I came to submitting my new film off to festival again, it meant a lot have the film selected to premiere at the Reel Asian this year. I can’t thank the directors, programmers, and staff enough and especially all the board members for the hospitable nature of treating all the filmmakers with so much respect, showing us a great time, and just the celebration of Asian-made films in general. They have created a festival that celebrates the filmmaker just as much as the films and is one of the few film festivals that still focuses on recognizing and rewarding the hard work filmmakers put into making films.

I also want to thank all the jury for their insight and critique and I especially want to thank Ann Marie Flemming for creating the Animasian award this year as a celebration of animated films at the Reel Asian. I think this is definitely something that all the animators in the room can share, that passion and drive to create something as repetitive and crazy as animation. Animation is an imaginative and beautiful artform unto itself and should definitely be recognized on its own separate from live action and documentary. The Animasian Award is a great step forward to supporting all the brilliant animated films showcased at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival for years to come!” – Jeff Chiba Stearns


After a three-year tour promoting his award-winning animated film, “What Are You Anyways?” around the world, filmmaker and Kelowna resident Jeff Chiba Stearns returns home with a new classically animated film, Yellow Sticky Notes. After a world premiere of the film at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival on November 16th, Jeff will screen the film for the first time to a Kelowna audience as part of The Ryan Donn’s CD Release Party at the KLO Campus Theatre on Saturday, November 24th at 7pm. The event will also be a DVD release for Yellow Sticky Notes. The film screened to great reception in Toronto and took home the Animasian Award for Best Animated Film at the festival. Created on a budget of $100, Yellow Sticky Notes competed with animated films with budgets as high as $150,000.

The film was created by animating directly on over 2300 yellow sticky notes with nothing more than a black ink pen. After realizing that yellow sticky note “to do” lists were consuming his life, Chiba Stearns finally decided to visually self-reflect on his filmmaking journey by animating on the same sticky notes that caused him to ignore major world events for the last nine years. Animation meditation is blended with image, text, and an original musical score by Genevieve Vincent through the creation of a classically animated experimental film. The entire process of animating on these sticky notes took Chiba Stearns over nine months and was created through an animated stream of consciousness.

“Yellow Sticky Notes, a funny, lively and insightful look at the life of a working artist and activist – all told through thousands of yellow sticky notes. An original idea, impeccably executed, and all those years and pieces of paper were well spent.”
– Glenn Sumi, Now Magazine - Toronto Reel Asian International Jury statement

“2300 drawings, 4x6 inch yellow sticky notes and a black ink pen – A small internal reflection on one’s role as an artist manifests into a discussion about major political and environmental crises.” – Heather Keung, Programming Manager of the Reel Asian International Film Festival

“I’m excited to have the Kelowna premiere and the DVD release of my new film Yellow Sticky Notes along side my good friend Ryan Donn’s CD Release Party. This will be a great evening celebrating the arts through the collaboration of music and film! Yellow Sticky Notes is one of the first animations to be created entirely with only post-it notes and I can’t wait to have a chance to share it with my hometown community. After the success in Toronto, I can’t wait to see how the film’s success continues on the international film festival circuit.” – Jeff Chiba Stearns

Monday, October 22, 2007

Taiwan International Animation Festival

Thanks to a Canada Council travel grant, I traveled to the Taiwan International Animation Festival in Taipei, Taiwan, recently to promote Canadian animation, share my film, “What Are You Anyways?” with Taiwanese audiences, learn about Taiwan’s mixed-ethnic background, meet other influential international animation filmmakers and artists, discover Taiwanese independent animation techniques and storytelling, connect with the Taiwanese animation education system, visit Taiwan animation studios, and be inspired by Taiwan’s unique and diverse arts culture. In the 11 days I was in Taiwan I am proud to say I was able to accomplish every goal.

Attending the Taiwan International Animation Festival (TIAF) in Taipei, Taiwan, was a great experience for me to promote Canadian film, culture, education, and my film, “What Are You Anyways?” to audiences throughout Taiwan. I was in Taiwan from September 27 to October the 8th, 2007. The festival was held the Shin Kong Cineplex in the trendy area of Ximending. It’s like Tokyo’s Shibuya district. The TIAF showcased over 600 short and feature animated films over 9 days (Sept. 28th to Oct. 7th) filled with screenings, parties, presentations, panels, workshops and an animation exhibition gallery at the Huashan Cultural Park. The animation exhibition was awesome with a retrospective on Will Vinton. I got to hangout with the original California Raisins puppets!

The Taiwan International Animation Festival programmed my film for two screenings as part of the Kaleidoscopic World of Animation ‘Who I Am’ program, M
onday, Oct. 1st at 10:20am and Thursday Oct. 4th at 6:40pm where I also conducted a question and answer period after the film screening. The audience for both screenings was humble with about 50 audience members per screening. The Q&A was energetic with a lot of enthusiastic audience members asking questions about the film, my animation filmmaking process, Canadian animation, and Canadian animation training. All Q&A sessions were translated between English and Mandarin by professional translators. My film, “What Are You Anyways?” was also subtitled by the festival into Mandarin so it could be understood by all audience members. When I arrived at the festival, they provided me with a liaison, Yu-nan Chou, who met me at the hotel and accompanied me to all festival functions and events. The liaison also acted as an interpreter so I could interact with local festival guests. She also toured me around Taipei between festival events and discussed with me Taiwan history and its rich cultural influences, which is a blend of aboriginal, Chinese, and Japanese culture.

While at the TIAF, I became great friends with the programmer Sharon Wu, who I first met at the 2005 San Diego Asian Film Festival. Sharon is a peer who is also an animation filmmaker and animation educator who worked previously as an instructor at CalArts in LA. As part of the festival, Sharon invited me to sit as a panelist on an Animation Educational Panel organized by the TIAF. I was on the panel with Eric Riewer from France, Sharon Wu and David Ehrlich from the America. I was representing the Canadian animation education system as I am also a part-time classical animation instructor at the Centre for Arts and Technology Kelowna. I spoke about the changing landscape of Canadian animation education and the different types of animation schools from public university programs like Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and private college programs like the one where I instruct in Kelowna. I also spoke about the changing climate in the Canadian animation industry with the advancement of Flash created programming. The panel event was very well attended with over 60 young aspiring Taiwanese animators in attendance. After the lecture many of the students approached me for more information about applying to Canadian animation schools and to speak with me about my animation experiences in Canada. As well, it was also important for me to hear the other panelists discuss how animation is taught in their countries, thus, helping me gain a new perspective on animation education around the world.

Before I went to Taiwan, I was in contact with the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which is the name of the Canadian Embassy in Taiwan. Chloe Chen, the manager of events and outreach, general relations of the CTOT organized a series of Taiwan university lectures and Taiwan animation studio meetings during my stay. On October 3rd I had two university guest lectures. First I traveled with Chloe to the National Central University in Chung Li City to visit the Department of English. There I visited the English class of professor Wenchi Lin who also organizes the Canadian Animation Film Festival that travels around Taiwan. I presented a two-hour lecture on mixed-race identity, hapa issues, and animation filmmaking process to his class of around 40 students. I also screened my film, “What Are You Anyways?” and my latest rough cut of my new film Yellow Sticky Notes. Both the films and the lecture were well received by the students and they were very involved in a heavy discussion with me after the talk. Professor Lin was also interested in helping me find a Taiwanese and Asian distributor for my film, “What Are You Anyways?” as he wants to see other universities and schools in Asia using the film in their curriculums to learn about Canadian multiculturalism and mixed-race identity issues in Canada.

From there, Chloe and I traveled to the south of Taiwan to the Tainan National University of the Arts, which is home to the Graduate Institute of Animation. Once there, I lectured for the entire graduate student body of about 50 students and faculty. I lectured for two hours on my animation film work, animation process, and the Canadian animation industry. As well, I screened my films and afterwards was involved in a very insightful Q&A session with the students and instructors. Professor Yu Wei Cheng, one of the original founders of Cuckoo’s Nest Studio, gave me a personal tour of the universities animation facilities and I met with his faculty afterwards. There I met visiting professor Steve Brown from the California Institute of the Arts and Dr. Chi-Sui Wang. The meeting and lecture went so well, that Professor Cheng mentioned that I should come back and teach a semester at the university as a visiting professor. I know coming back to Taiwan would be an amazing adventure!

On October 4th, Chloe organized a lecture at the National Taiwan University of Arts where I conducted a lecture for the Dept. & Graduate School of Multimedia & Animation Arts. There I presented a two-hour lecture to Associate Professor Jay Shih’s Experimental Animation Class about my animation process and Canadian animation. I presented my films and again the students were engaged by the topic of the lectures by responding with an enthusiastic question and answer session following the lecture. Afterwards, Professor Shih invited Chloe and I to lunch where we discussed in more depth the relationship with Taiwanese animation schools and the Taiwanese animation industry. From all my university visits and discussions with the professors of animation, I learnt that there is little to no cooperation or communication between the animation education system and the industry in Taiwan. Most university programs are focused more on creating creative animation students rather than industry animators. Therefore, the developing animation industry in Taiwan is having a hard time finding animators who understand animation industry techniques and software. While in Taiwan, I tried to be a link towards helping the animation schools work together with the industry studios that I would later visit since I work hard with studios in Canada to make sure the students I instruct have the necessary skills and creative talent to work in the industry and/or become successful independent animators.

While at the festival, I had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow Canadian animator, Howie Shia, with whom I share very similar animation philosophies and filmmaking techniques. We both work with classical hand drawn animation and similar mediums. Chloe Chen from the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei booked tours and meetings at various Taiwanese animation studios for Howie and myself. The first studio we visited was ODD Incredible. There we met with Connie Kuo (Producer), Alan Tuan (Director), Will Wu (Designer), and Eric Tuan (Illustrator). We presented our projects to each other, shared ideas, and talked about the Vancouver animation community since ODD was considering moving to North America. Chloe als
o took Howie and I to Inext where we met with Producer Tracy Kwok. Tracy gave us a tour of the studio and we discussed their latest projects. The last studio we visited was F.Rhythm 3D Animation Company where we met with Gloria Kao. There we watched their latest project Memory Loss and we worked with her on how to turn the short project into a feature length CG film project. While there we also met with Frances Chien, the Manager of the Industry Support Division in charge of the animation industry in Taiwan. Frances offered to help us with setting up meetings and tours with any other studios if we ever traveled back to Taiwan.

As well, Howie and I were also able to accompany Loic Wong from the Institute Francais and French animator Alexandre Heboyan to visit Gamania Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd, one of Taiwan biggest gaming and animation studios. Mainly known for their video game development, Gamania had just s
tarted up a television animation production studio. While there we met with Delores Fu(Production Coordinator), Helene Chang (Line Producer), Molly Lin (Planner), Ophelia Huang (Planner), Sanvy Hsieh (Director), and Pongo Kuo (Creative Director). When we arrived we were introduced to the cartoons Gamania has in development and production. We were able to offer our insight on their show reel and exchanged ideas. We got to tour their newly created television animation studio and were able to see their new hit cartoon series Hero:108. We met as well with many of their creative directors and designers. I was impressed by their sense of design and concept work. Although, their animation movement and fluidity still needs room to grow and improve. Again, I learned this could go back to the miscommunication between the animation education system and the animation studio system in Taiwan, a gap that will need to be bridged if Taiwan animation studios ever want to create a blossoming television/feature animation industry like in Vancouver or Toronto.

Howie and I spent a lot of time with Loic and Alex. Maybe it was because they were French and we felt a connection to them since they reminded us of French Canadians. Loic, being into great food and atmosphere and knowing where all the hot spots were in Taipei, took us to some pretty amazing restaurants, lounges, and bars. One of the first nights, we went to check out a pretty ultra posh lounge in the Warner Village. After a few fancy cocktails, we headed downstairs to the super trendy Room 18. Being pretty much the hottest club in Taipei, it cost about $500NT to get in. Roughly the cover works out to about less than $20 CAN. Although, each drink afterwards is around $200NT so roughly about $7 CAN. Not bad considering you get two free drinks when you get in. The bartender took over 10 minutes to make my classic Bombay martini. He kept working on it until it was perfect by using a straw and tasting it until it was exactly right. Overall, the music was nothing progressive but the atmosphere was posh and hip. A few foreigners were there but mainly the crowd was local. A few days later, Loic took us to a great Japanese restaurant called James Kitchen. It was a little hole in the wall restaurant but probably some of the best authentic Japanese food I’ve ever had. Afterwards we headed to The Cube for an after dinner drink. It was a small place with a comfortable sheik atmosphere. From there we headed to a trendy Japanese restaurant called Dozo. Basically, this was the most amazing restaurant I have ever been in my entire life. It was beautiful, large, and the interior design was the best I have ever seen for a restaurant. The food was amazing too! I went there twice while I was in Taiwan and on the Friday night when I went with Howie Shai and Mark Walsh the restaurant had Taiko drumming while we ate and drank sake. Dozo is a must visit if you ever find yourself in Taipei. Relatively, the food in Taiwan is cheap. The dinner and drinks at Dozo cost us each around $30 CAN. In Vancouver it would have easily been over $100 CAN. Plus, the sashimi was some of the best I’ve ever had and you can’t beat the atmosphere.

While at the festival, I met many animation industry and independent animation contacts. Because there were not very m
any international guests, this allowed me to make many personal friendships with many of the guests. I stayed at the Rich Garden Hotel, which was the official hotel of the Taiwan Int’l Animation Festival. There, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with the other guests attending the festival. This gave me a great opportunity to speak one on one and in more depth with some very influential animation professionals I met. I talked and created friendships with many prominent and influential animators and artists such as Steve Anderson (Disney director), Mark Walsh (Pixar supervising animator), Philip Tan (Spawn comic illustrator), Alexandre Heboyan (Dreamworks animator), Nelson Shin (V.P. ASIFA International and inventor of the light saber in Star Wars), Kristof Serrand (Dreamworks supervising animator), Paul Vester (Award-winning experimental animator), and Stephen Chiodo (Master stop-motion animator). As well, I also spent time with other animation independent filmmakers, Hirokazu Hosoymana, Brandon Huang, and Howie Shia just to name a few. I also met producer Jade Lee from the Leader Asia Pacific Creativity Centre who works with some of Taiwan’s greatest film directors, including Ang Lee. A great treat was talking with Thailand animation filmmakers, Kompin Kemgumnird (Director) and Auchara Kijkanjananas (Producer) from Kantana Animation Studios after they had just completed the first all Thai produced feature 3d animated film Khan Kluay. It is my hope to bring their amazing film to Canada and share this amazing story to the audiences of the Okanagan Film Festival in which I am the Vice President.

Also, while at the festival, I also met with Alfred Sesma director of Spain’s ANIMA
C Animation Festival. We talked about Spain’s animation industry and the film festival and I gave him my films, “What Are You Anyways?” and Yellow Sticky Notes for possible inclusion in next year’s ANIMAC. As well, I had the great pleasure to attend many animation lectures/presentations organized by the TIAF. I watched presentations by Mark Walsh (Creating Believable Characters), Kristoff Serrand (How to Learn Animation), Alexandre Heboyan (The Making of Azure et Asmar), Philip Tan & Sharon Wu (Roaming in the World of Comics and Illustrations), and Steve Anderson (From Story Artist to Animation Director). I found many of these presentations to be extremely inspiring and I gained a vast amount of animation knowledge and technique from these master animators and artists. All of which, I can incorporate into my animation filmmaking and teachings. As well, I was able to watch many great animation shorts programs with animated films from around the world. As part of the festival, there were many programs devoted to strictly Taiwanese independent animators. From watching these programs I was able to understand the Taiwanese filmmakers’ unique and stylistic approaches to making animated short films. At the Taiwanese animation awards night, I was able to meet many of the filmmakers and discuss filmmaking and animation methods with them.

Because my film work explores mixed-race identity as a main theme, one of my main goals while visiting Taiwan was to talk to the Taiwanese people I met about mixed-race identity. Loic Wong of the French Institute, who I spent some time with, discussed with me his experiences growing up in France with mixed Chinese and French backgrounds. From our conversations, I learned we were the same age and that we both shared similar experiences growing up mixed-race even though we grew up in two completely different counties. From my conversations with Taiwanese, I discovered that Taiwan is a culture blended with many various influences from Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, and even Dutch backgrounds. Many Taiwanese are a blend of all these various ethnicities and much like the blended culture of their ethnic backgrounds, I discovered it is also very active in all aspects of their food, arts, and architecture. In Canada, people of mixed-racial background will usually describe themselves in terms of fractions. Such as, I am half-Japanese and 1/8th German, Scottish, Russian, and English. In Taiwan someone of mixed heritage simply consider themselves just Taiwanese. They do not find the need to describe their ethnic background but rather just accept that they are all Taiwanese. Also, in the south of Taiwan, many of the natives blended with the Dutch settlers who came to occupy the region hundreds of years ago. Very similar to the Meti in Canada, many of the children were mixed. Although, from what I learned, people from the south of Taiwan, although they look mixed, will never admit they possess any Dutch ancestry because of the mistreatment of the Taiwanese aboriginals at the hands of the Dutch settlers. As well, the political situation in Taiwan fascinated me with their lobbying to join the UN and the influence China has over them. I find the mixed culture in Taiwan fascinating and I will continue to study and research in more depth the issues and identity concerns of Taiwanese citizens. While in Taiwan, I was able to learn so much about the history, culture, and political atmosphere in Taiwan from my festival hired liaison, Yu-Nan Chan. She helped teach me how Taiwan actually parallels Canada in many ways. One day I would love to see people of mixed-race in Canada be able to be like the Taiwanese by just being able to tell other Canadians that they are just that Canadian instead of having to list their blended details of their ethnic backgrounds to describe themselves.

Even though I had a lot of meetings, guest lectures, and festival events to do while in Taiwan, I did manage to have a bit of fun. The second day in Taipei, Yu-Nan, my liaison, took
Howie and Faith Lin (TIAF International Coordinator) to a cosplay restaurant. Basically, it reminded me of the Taiwanese version of Hooters. Except, all the servers were girls who dressed up as French Maids. It was nuts! They would call you master and constantly fill up your water so you could stare at them. It was definitely quite the experience. I wanted to take a picture but I was told that pictures were not allowed in the restaurant. When I told Mark Walsh about this restaurant, he was so intrigued it became our mission to go back before we all left. We tried to go back but the weekend before we were scheduled to fly out, Typhoon Krosa decided to wreak havoc in Taipei. The typhoon was quite the experience. I have never seen rain or wind like that in my entire life. Although, surprisingly enough there were still people riding scooters on the streets. We all had to attend the closing night party so we ventured from the hotel in a taxi to the theatre. During a break in the films, Mark and a few of us, ventured out on the streets to experience the craziness of the typhoon. Although, not as dangerous as I thought, it was still pretty powerful to be outside in the middle of such a storm. Branches were flying around and store signs were being blown off the sides of the buildings. After our quick adventure outside, we headed back to the theatre for the closing party. Afterwards, everyone from the festival, staff and filmmakers, headed to Partyworld. Basically, Partyworld is a 30 story high building that looks like a huge hotel. But instead of hotel rooms, there are hundreds of karaoke rooms! You rent a private room where you can party and sing karaoke all night long! It’s amazing and the booze and food is really cheap. Mark, Howie, and I had fun singing our favorite Backstreet Boys songs. After our session of being karaoke allstars, we noticed the typhoon had calmed down. So we went to 711 and bought some more alcohol. In Taiwan, you can buy alcohol in 711 at anytime of night and drink it directly in the store. So we did! With a long day of storm chasing, partying, and karaoke we called it a night and headed to the hotel for some well deserved sleep.

The next day they had reopened the airport, which meant we would be able to fly out. My flight was in the afternoon, which meant that Mark, Philip, Howie, Yu-nan and I would be able to sneak in a lunch at Moe Point (the maid cafĂ©) which was closed the day before because of the typhoon. We almost thought Mark wasn’t going to get a chance to experience the maid restaurant. So, as you could imagine, Mark and was extremely happy to finally get a chance to see what all the fuss was about! Actually, he enjoyed it so much, he couldn’t stop laughing for over ten minutes when were first seated. This day the girls were actually dressed up as whatever they wanted. Some were dressed still as French maids, but our server was dressed up as Alice from Alice in Wonderland. After eating some half-decent pasta, I said my good byes to Howie, Mark, and Philip and headed back to the hotel with Yu-nan to get my stuff. Faith Lin met me at the hotel and saw me off as I jumped in the limo and headed off to the airport.

I traveled to Taiwan with over 50 copies of my film. I presented a DVD of my copy to most everyone I came in contact with. Every university professor, animation studio, filmmaker, and friend I met received a copy of my film as a gift. It is my hope that they will share my film, “What Are You Anyways?” with their students, colleagues, and friends. In the end, I had no more copies of my film left and returned back to Canada with DVD’s from the other filmmakers I met, compilations of student animations from the universities I visited, fond memories, and even better yet, new friends and peers who I would never have met if it weren’t for the experience of attending the 2007 Taiwan International Animation Festival!

Things are a lot bigger in Taiwan!

Super Nip lives as a children's show entertainer?!?

Cosplay rules!

Watch out for man digging!

In Taiwan the ninjas drink Cocacola Zero to stay fit!

No smoking and hanging yourself allowed

Taipei night markets are like Chinatown on speed!


Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

Dragon at Long-shan Temple

Long-shan Temple

Spiderman's arch nemesis finally found in Ximending

In Taipei, if you don't own a scooter, you just ain't cool!


After a whopping world record breaking 37 second elevator ride, this is the view from the top of Taipei 101 (91st floor)

Taiwan memorial

Typhoon Krosa from outside the Rich Garden Hotel where I was staying

(all photos and video taken by Jeff Chiba Stearns - all rights reserved 2007)
(photos, video, and text are property of Jeff Chiba Stearns and may not be published, copied, distributed, exhibited anywhere else on the internet, or publicly displayed. Any other use of these photos or text other than this blog, is strictly prohibited)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Off to the Taiwan International Animation Festival!

I'm madly scrambling to prepare for my trip to Taipei, Taiwan to attend the Taiwan International Animation Festival starting this week. They will be screening my film, "What Are You Anyways?" I am leaving to Taiwan Sept. 25th and returning on October the 7th. I was fortunate to acquire funding for the trip through the Canada Council for Arts Media Travel Grant which helps cover the cost of flights and accomodations. While I am there, my schedule has become pretty hectic filled with delivering guest lectures at Taiwan universities, attending screenings, question and answer periods, gala parties, special film events, animation studio tours, and participating in panel discussions.

Here is a look at my Taiwan schedule so far:

Date Time Event Place
September 27 05:55 Arrive Taipei
September 28 17:30 Opening Film First Theater of Shin Kong
September 29 11:00 Exhibition Opening Huashan Culture Park
September 30 10:30 Educational Panel HuaShan Culture Park
October 1 09:30 Guest Lecture Shi Hsin University, Dept. of Film Study
October 1 10:20 WAYA screening Second Theater of Shin Kong
October 2 18:30 Award Ceremony First Theater of Shin Kong
October 3 09:30 Guest Lecture Chung Li City, Dept. of English Literature
October 3 14:45 Guest Lecture Tainan University of the Arts, Graduate Institute of Animation
October 4 10:00 Guest Lecture National Taiwan U. of Arts, Animation Dept.
October 4 18:40 WAYA screening Second Theater of Shin Kong
October 4 20:20 QA Second Theater of Shin Kong
October 6 18:00 Closing Film First Theater in Shin Kong
October 7 16:15 Leave Taipei

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yellow Sticky Notes

I've just completed editing the animation for my next animated film, Yellow Sticky Notes. Yellow Sticky Notes is an experimental classical animated film with an interesting subtle narrative. 2300 drawings were animated straight ahead on 4x6 inch yellow sticky notes with nothing but a black ink pen. The film looks at my self reflection of major world events through the use of animation meditation. The film blends image, text and music to create a social commentary through animation. I realized that over the last nine years I have been so busy trying to accomplish my daily "to do" lists written on sticky notes that I was ignoring the world around me. So nine years later, I decided to self reflect on events like 911, the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, etc. by animating on the same sticky notes that caused me to ignore them. The film is 6 minutes long. All that is left to do is send it to Boston where Genevieve Vincent will be creating the film's musical score. I am hoping to have the film completed by October 2007.

After realizing that yellow sticky note “to do” lists were consuming his life, filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns decided to visually self-reflect on his filmmaking journey by animating on the same sticky notes that caused him to ignore major world events for the last nine years. Animation meditation is blended with image, text, and an original musical score by Genevieve Vincent through the creation of a classically animated experimental film that was drawn straight ahead with only a black ink pen on over 2300 yellow sticky notes.

(copyright 2007 Jeff Chiba Stearns)

Canadian Awards for Animated and Electronic Arts

In September 2006, I took home the award for Best Animated Short Subject for my film, “What Are You Anyways?” at the first annual Canadian Awards for Electronic and Animated Arts (CAEAA). The awards show, described as the Oscars of the Canadian video game and animation industry, was hosted by actor William Shatner of Star Trek fame on Thursday night, September 14th, at the world class River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond, BC. Awards were presented in 37 categories in three sectors of the Electronic and Animated Arts industry: talent development (New Media and Animation Art Schools), animation, and video game development. Each winner was presentedwith an Elan – a statuette similar to an Oscar but constructed of a majestic man and a woman resembling Greek gods holding up the world.

I attended the event with faculty from the Centre for Arts and Technology Kelowna where I instructs classical hand drawn animation courses. The evening was complete with red carpet, limousines, and Hollywood treatment. The Gala event, with over 700 guests, was similar to the Golden Globe Awards with an Oscar-like glitzy reception and black-tie dinner at one of the best new theatres in North America with industry sponsors participating in the development of the show and celebrity guest presenters.

It is expected that the Canadian Awards for the Electronic and Animated Arts will become the standard by which Canada and the rest of the World recognizes the amazing talent and product that this country is delivering to an enormous and ever-growing market.

Monday, August 27, 2007

MTV Canada Interview

MTV LIVE: Jeff Chiba Stearns Interview

In November 2007 I attended the Regent Park Film Festival in Toronto. The fest was kind enough to fly me out and my filmmaker friend Allan Tong let me crash on his couch while I was there. I got in Wednesday night and Allan and I stayed up late discussing film. Not good since I had to be up early and at a screening of my animated film, "What Are You Anyways?" the next morning. Thursday was nuts. I had two screenings with over 200 kids in each screening. I've never seen such a diverse audience before. Every ethnicity was in that room! I've never had such a great reaction to my film before either. The kids were laughing, hooting, and cheering through out the film. In between screenings I met up for lunch with fellow Hapa filmmaker, Karen Suzuki, and we talked about Hapa things and filmmaking. She's almost finished her feature length doc on Hapas titled, Hapaness. I also ate the fattiest omlette ever. I could see the butter oozing out every time I cut off a piece. After lunch it was back for a 1:30pm screening. I finally finished my last question and answer around 3:30pm that day and then it was off to the MTV studio for a live interview on their show MTV LIVE.

I was greeted by Teddy, a producer of the show, and taken to get my make-up done. Which was good since the bags under my eyes were especially baggy due to being hung over and jet lagged. After that I sat in the green room (which wasn't at all green) and waited to go on air. The actual set was amazing considering it used to be a Masonic Temple. It was in a large concert hall with a live audience. The interview went great. Aliya Jasmine Sovan did the interview and she could relate to the mixed-race experience because she herself is a huge blend of various ethnicities. Although, when she introduced me, she said I openly called myself a half-breed...which is a term I actually really hate. It was great to talk a bit with her after the interview about her experiences growing up mixed-race. Super nice girl and cute too! After the interview I stuck around and checked out the band performing on the show, Mutemath, who played an amazing set. A really fresh sounding band and innovative.

After the MTV taping, I got back to Allan's and we hit up some Vietnamese food. Friday was nuts too. I headed off to the Japanese Cultural Centre for some meetings. I did an interview with the Nikkei Voice newspaper while I was there too. Then I headed up to Regent Park to do an interview for a multicultural documentary called the M word. Right after that, I had to conduct an animation workshop with some grade 8 students at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School. Finally around 3:30pm I was off for the day. First thing was to find some food. I was so busy, I didn't have time to eat anything all day. Toronto definitely isn't short of great food. It is seriously the most ethnically diverse city I've ever been to. Everywhere you look, there is a different type of restaurant. Ate some amazing East Indian fast food across from the Muchmusic studio. The butter chicken is amazing! Across the street, Muchmusic was taping an episode of their show Much On Demand. I wandered over and checked that out. Lots of screaming teenagers which annoyed me so I left. That night I met up with an old roommate who had just moved to Toronto. Went to some bar called Spirits. The waiter totally ripped us off of $20 after we paid because he said we were short...although we had given him the entire amount of the bill plus good tip. So we ended up giving him another 20 just to shut him up. That's the TO for ya! Although, we succeeded in getting pretty wasted and finding my way back to the apartment was pretty crazy.

Saturday was pretty good. Had a screening at 4pm so I got to sleep in a bit. Wandered around downtown Toronto and Chinatown for a while. Man, if you need illegal DVD's that's the place to be. Stopped by the Reel Asian Film Festival offices and had lunch with Deanna the director of the festival and her husband at a great French restaurant. After lunch I hit up Kensington Street. If you need vintage clothes, that's the place to be. The 4pm screening of my film went great. Screened with a great film called Peace Tree by Mitra Sen. Great Q&A from the audience. Afterwards I headed home.

My good friend Norman Yeung, also a filmmaker, called me up and invited me out with his friends. We headed out and ended up at a place called the White Orchid. Its an old Karaoke Bar that has been transformed into a night club. It was full of art kids dancin' it up to some Drum and Bass. Jagar was on sale and so I succeeded in getting Norman and I really drunk. By the end of the night we ended up at some Toronto indy rock band's house. Everyone was singing Karaoke and eating fortune cookies. Weird. Norman and I caught a cab back downtown. As we head back downtown, I look over at Norman and he's sitting there holding a plastic bag. I have no idea where this bag came from but he proceeds to puke in the bag at least three times. Each time appologizing to the cab driver and explaining that he didn't get any on the seat. We finally get home to Queen Street. Norman drops his bag of puke on the street and stumbles home. I finally get back to the apartment and pass out!

Sunday, I had planned to go to Niagara Falls. Although I didn't get out of bed till noon so I didn't go. Finally I get my stuff together, eat the left over butter chicken in the fridge and head to the closing film at the Regent Park. There I meet my buddy David Eng, also a filmmaker. We head out after the screening and get a coffee and cake at a great little place up in the Annex district. For a Sunday night that place was vibrant with life. I get home that night and packed up for the Monday departure back to Kelowna. Overall, great trip, lots of catching up with old T-dot friends and made a few new ones. Definitely looking forward to going back soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"What Are You Anyways?" (Trailer)

"What Are You Anyways?"

Created in 2005, "What Are You Anyways?" has gone on to screen at over 40 international film festivals and win 7 awards including the Elan for Best Short Animation at the Canadian Awards for Electronic and Animated Arts 2006. This September I will be traveling with the film to Taipei, Taiwan to the 2007 Taiwan International Animation Festival where the film will be screening. I can only post a trailer for the film since the NFB distributes the film for private and educational sales. Full length DVD's can be ordered at

The film is 11 minutes long and is still finding success on the film festival circuit along with being used in school across North America. The film deals with mixed-race identity, racism, multiculturalism, tolerance, and finding pride for one's ethnic background. The film was funded by the CBC, NAJC, and NFB and has aired on the CBC twice in 2005, once in a primetime slot.

Follow the adventures of the Super Nip as filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns explores his cultural backgrounds growing up a mix of Japanese and Caucasian in a small white-bred Canadian city. This short classically animated film looks at particular periods in Jeff’s life where he battled with finding an identity being a half minority - from his childhood origins to the epic showdown against the monster truck drivin’ redneck crew. “What Are You Anyways?” is a humorous yet serious story of struggle and love and finding one’s identity through the trials and tribulations of growing up.

(copyright 2005 Jeff Chiba Stearns)

Kip and Kyle

Kip and Kyle

Made back in 2000 while I was at the Emily Carr Institute studying animation, Kip and Kyle is the first film I ever made and took me over three months to animate. I went into a kindergarten classroom and recorded children at play. Two boys playing in a sandbox in the corner of the room intrigued me with their exaggerated actions as they played with toy cars. I took a 30 sound clip of them playing and animated it. I wanted the piece to be as energetic as the boys playing, so I made sure that the animation was really rough, with boiling lines, and full of life. The animation was created by animating directly on paper using only a black ink pen. The film was aquired by the CBC in 2004 and aired on their program ZeD, March 1st, 2004.

(copyright 2000 Jeff Chiba Stearns)