My Big Brother producer nets big honor at Annie Awards


Some of the best advice we’ve heard for future filmmakers is that if you want to direct, start directing. Jason Rayner (B.F.A., animation, 2014) and his animated short, My Big Brother, about a boy sharing a room with his twenty-foot tall sibling, are proof that you don’t have to wait until you graduate to begin your best work. Jason produced and directed My Big Brother, winner of the 42nd annual Annie Award for Best Student Film, while studying animation at Savannah College of Art and Design. The film debuted in Cartoon Brew's Student Animation Festival and recently screened at aTVfest in Atlanta. The Pennsylvania native spoke to us from San Francisco, where he has worked as an animator and illustrator since completing the film in May 2014.

SCAD: What does winning the Annie Award mean to your career?

Jason Rayner: The Annie Awards were a fun, great experience. It meant a lot to me, as I’m being introduced into the animation industry. To be in the presence of such great talent and with animation leaders was so significant. Receiving the award made me feel like I was truly welcomed into the industry.

SCAD: How will it affect your future work?

JR: It was a motivating experience, definitely raised the standards I set for myself, and encouraged me to work more. I am hoping it will be a boost to my confidence.

S: What was the inspiration for the film?

JR: I grew up with two older brothers, and I tend to think about the past a lot. I immediately thought about what my family meant to me and growing up. My artistic inspiration was Ronald Daul’s book, BFG, and I love the dynamic of the characters. I reflected about what my artistic voice would be, dreaming about the future while thinking about the past. I wanted to create a character that I could relate to. I gave the little brother the personality of being in the background at times and coming to a point where he had to accept his life with a “big” brother."

S: How did you combine fantasy and reality into a coherent storyline?

JR: Since this was my first time writing, I talked to professors quite a bit about it. I am fascinated with the idea of a story that has one premise and then the rest of the story is true, with no questions asked. I then asked myself, “How does that one premise change his life, and how does it connect with a real person’s life and how it's relatable?” I was trying not to make the big brother a metaphor for something else, though it can be interpreted differently, depending on the viewer’s perspective.

S: Did you encounter any unexpected challenges?

JR: I didn’t expect that writing a story would be so hard. I had a lot of help with it from my friends and professors who helped me work on the structure and narrative of the story. I couldn’t believe how long animation takes. The short film project took three quarters of the year, which included the initial writing over the summer. Students all gathered together twice a quarter to present their progress on the project and we also received faculty and peer feedback.

S: What are some of your top lessons learned from the project?

JR: Not to stress about the project result, but to make the process enjoyable. Also that I couldn’t do it all alone. The support I received on lighting and music were a huge help. I found it hard to ask people to work for me, especially for free. I also had to be able to be gracious and understanding with people.

S: Which SCAD courses helped prepare you to make this film?

JR: I enjoyed taking an etching class, which got me away from the computer. I also liked the humor writing class and poetry classes. The concepts class, taught by Louis Cook, a requirement for all animation majors, was extremely helpful, as were the character animation courses. Those were crucial to my development.

S: You used the animation software Blender to make this project. How and when did you learn it?

JR: I was 11-years-old when I starting learning Blender. It was a long, slow-moving process. A lady at church who was an animator gave me a CD with Blender on it. I had just started using computers, so I initially tried to make games with the program. I experimented with it throughout high school, using it as a hobby. Blender has a great online community for learning through its forum posts and tutorials.

S: Are you still using Blender?

JR: Yes, I use it mostly for modeling, and it’s still the program that I’m most comfortable with. Because it’s an open-source program, it has an awesome set of features that continue to grow.

S: What are you working on now?

JR: I am currently a freelance project-based animator in San Francisco working on an encyclopedia picture studio. This project includes working with group of directors on music videos and a virtual realty film. I'm also working for two directors on musician Panda Bear's interactive music project.

S: What direction do you see your career taking?

JR: I really enjoy the place I’m at now, where everyone is able to speak in their own artistic voice. I’m part of a team of 10 people, and I work with one person in particular who was a big influencer on the style for My Big Brother. It’s hard to believe that now I’m working with him. I really like that I’m on a pioneering track of embracing all forms of media, such as using different mixing techniques on the Panda Bear music videos.

SCAD in and on TV


Whether on the screen or behind it, above the line or below it, Savannah College of Art and Design alumni are making their mark on television. In honor of aTVfest (Feb. 5 – 7), we scoured our research to show you where. As producers, post supervisors, actors, DPs, art directors, visual effects artists, writers, and more, SCAD alumni are employed by the networks, or productions by the networks, on the map below. Just a snap shot, so that next time you’re watching Game of Thrones, for example, you can say, “Hey, a fellow SCAD grad did that.”

Here’s what a few current students are up to. They screened their projects at the aTVfest Student Showcase, a juried show of assignments completed for visual effects, motion media, TV production and animation classes.

Drag it Out of Me
Brad Schweninger (B.A., TV producing, junior), Producer and Director of Photography

“This documentary short, exploring the drag scene in Atlanta through the eyes of Steven Glen Diehl AKA ‘Biqtch Puddin', was for a field production class. Drag it Out of Me highlights Steven's return to drag after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition. This project represents my interest in being both a producer and director of photography. I want to utilize the skills I learned in the photography department at SCAD and translate them to video production.”

Thread: What do you watch?

Brad: True Detective. I love the cinematic look and editing, absolutely amazing. Plus, who doesn't love Woody and McConaughey?

Man on the Move
David Kim (B.A., TV producing, freshman) Director of Photography

“A professional skate boarder by the name of Preston Pollard shares his story about what he does, what keeps him on the move, and why he loves suiting up. The short film was shown at and represents my creativity and passion for the world of television. People view television differently because of the lack of control and creativity, compared to film. Through my camera shots, I want show that TV is still a creative job and contribute my unique style.”

Thread: What’s your dream job?

David: To work for National Geographic or Discovery. I want to travel the world and film life events that people normally do not get to see. 

Thread: What do you watch?

David: Frozen Planet, Life, Storm Chasers. These shows inspire me because the effort and time spent filming these animals or storms are incredible. It’s amazing how we get to just simply turn on our TVs or computers to watch something so incredible. By watching these shows I try my best to imitate the shots they get and put my own pieces together.

Upstream Color
Reggie Harrison (M.F.A., advertising, candidate), Cinematography, Editing, Title Design and Color Grading

Music: “That You Would” by Dear Euphoria

"Upstream Color is a science fiction film revolving around a man and a woman whose lives mysteriously become drawn together. The project was completed for the graduate course, Motion Media Cinematography and Editing. The assignment was to re-design the opening titles for the film and defend why the creative direction was taken. My approach for the opening film title sequence was to capture the parasitic aspect of the man and woman’s relationship. I believe in smart storytelling which, to me, means having both a perspective and a curated delivery. This work demonstrates my ability to craft a project that, when given creative freedom, still maintains the integrity of "the ask”; a dynamic that will bode well in the demanding environment of broadcast television."

Thread: What's your dream job?

Reggie: I would like to lead the creative direction of a company’s video production efforts - either as a director or a hands-on executive producer. Those roles allow me to identify an audience and use my talents deliver a message that will resonate well with them.

Thread: What do you watch?

Reggie: I enjoy watching films (independent and mainstream) and shows where the cinematography lends itself almost as a character on its own. Shows like Game of Thrones, Gotham, and True Detective have amazing visuals and shooting techniques that definitely inspire me. Well-executed cinematography generally helps me suspend my disbelief, which makes me that much more invested in the story. That’s an effective tactic and, as an advertising major, strategy is an area where I’m most fluent.

Stay tuned to see where Brad, David and Reggie land on the map.

TV set as classroom and other reasons to get into television


The resurgence of TV is attracting a new generation of talent. Students are increasingly interested in jobs for the small screen, whether they are above or below the line. I tell them it’s a great time to get in, and that chances are good they’ll one day work for the same shows they binge watch. It seems that people used to get into the business because they were well connected, starry eyed, or gluttons for rejection. But the reasons why TV is a great career to shoot for are now better than ever. Here’s a few:

1.) There are more shows than there are staff to produce them.
When I was starting, jobs were scarce, and they were mostly limited to network. Not so today. For example, there are more than 60 network and cable TV shows and films now shooting in New York. This past summer there were 80. In Atlanta, there were 158 film and TV projects shot in 2014 alone, with frequent reports of new productions opening shop. Attached to each of these productions are a myriad of roles and responsibilities that show runners need to fill.

2.) You don’t have to move to New York or Los Angeles.
Seventy five percent of my graduate class moved to LA or New York for work. Now I tell my students to go wherever they have contacts, especially Atlanta, where the opportunities are equal to those in New York and LA. There are big incentives for shows to hire locally, and tax credits aren’t the only ones. I like to hire local crews because they know the area, are well connected and help a show run efficiently. If you build the labor force, the productions will come. Banking on this trend, I recently changed my DGA residency to Savannah believing that more production work will come to the city as the talent pool grows.

3.) New talent can grow with new platforms and content.
Viewers have an appetite for fresh content and for new ways to consume it. With original productions streaming on the likes of Amazon, and cable networks increasingly supplementing unscripted content with scripted, new talent can get in on the ground level of new shows with new forms of distribution and grow with them. Ratings buster Empire or Golden Globe-winning Transparent anyone?

4.) TV teaches on the job.
TV is still an industry that’s willing to teach on the job. We bring in students with little experience, train them in the strange and technical nuances of our business, and hire the promising ones. I placed recent SCAD grad Gabe Gilden as an intern on a Comedy Central pilot. That internship turned into a job as a set PA on Broad City.  Now he’s in the process of joining the DGA Trainee Program. To get there, Gabe had to experience a set and learn what the other 100 crew members do. The beauty is that because he was taught that way, one day Gabe will create opportunities for students, too, and keep the pipeline going.

TV will thrive with a well-trained work force, which will result by expanding pathways between the classroom and the set. The sooner students know what they want to do, the sooner faculty can train them and place them on shows for course credit and real world experience. Such is the case of senior Allie Schultz who, beginning in sophomore year, spent early morning classes repeatedly setting up and breaking down tripods. Her active interest in cinematography landed her at the top of the list we handed the The Walking Dead when producers called SCAD for interns. Later on set, when a camera op threw her the sticks, of course Allie put them up rapidly and evenly, much to the surprise and delight of the harried crew. There are dozens more like her ready to be tested; ready to show the industry that its future is in good hands. And with job prospects looking better than ever, their ranks will grow, starry eyed and business-minded.

Megan Lombardo is an adjunct professor of film and television at Savannah College of Art and Design. Her credits as 1st and 2nd AD include Broad City, airing on Comedy Central, MTV’s Eye Candy, Fox’s Glee and HBO’s VEEP. She holds an M.F.A. in film and television from SCAD.

The architecture of trade and the 9th Savannah Symposium


What does Savannah have in common with Hong Kong, Cartagena, Venice and Mumbai?  As a port city, it has long been connected to global trade networks that have existed as long as the oldest human civilizations. Consider a lowly piece of Savannah pavement – a remarkable cobblestone etched with Chinese characters that began its life as a tombstone in China in 1798, became ballast in a ship in the 19th century, and ended up in Savannah as a cobblestone. The story of Savannah’s Chinese cobblestone aptly illustrates the global forces that have directly shaped cities throughout history and around the world.

The cobblestone is the perfect symbol for the 9th Savannah Symposium (Feb. 5 - 7): “The Architecture of Trade.” Since its inception in 1999, the biennial event, presented by Savannah College of Art and Design’s architectural history department, has attracted almost 400 speakers from over 30 countries worldwide, bringing together historians, anthropologists, economists, and sociologists with architects, planners, designers and preservationists to connect history to issues that are relevant today. 

Issues of trade increasingly dominate the news as the forces of globalization, shifting economics, and even the spread of diseases and political radicalism define our lives. Exploring the complex relationship between trade, architecture and cities, “The Architecture of Trade” is particularly timely given Savannah’s rising profile as the nation’s fastest growing port, now the fourth busiest after Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York City.

The 9th symposium will bring 50 speakers from around the United States and from Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Israel, Italy, and South Africa to Savannah, which shares the history and experiences of other trade centers, but is also an anomaly. Like other port cities around the world, Savannah is preparing for the arrival of the gigantic “post-Panamax” cargo ships in the coming years that will dwarf the current freighters. Yet Savannah also boasts one of the best preserved historic waterfronts, with most of its 19th-century warehouses intact, along with the unique network of masonry retaining walls, terraced lanes (called Factors Walk), and iron bridges.

The symposium leads off with a walking tour of this most extraordinary urban landscape. Also opening the event is the keynote lecture, “Cities of Incense and Myrrh,” given by Dr. Nasser Rabbat, director of the Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thematic paper sessions will follow on subjects ranging from the impacts of vast trade networks in past centuries to how trade shapes the built environments of today. The symposium closes with the keynote lecture, “How Capitalism Shaped the Built Environment,” given by Dr. Joyce Appleby, professor emerita of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Savannah Symposium showcases the role SCAD plays in supporting scholarship and contributing to the broader understanding of our world. The lectures, receptions and tours provide valuable opportunities for students, faculty and community members to interact with leading academics and practitioners. Beyond the events, representative papers from the 3rd and 6th symposia have been published as books edited by the department’s faculty – Commemoration in America: Essays on Monuments, Memorialization and Memory, edited by David Gobel and Daves Rossell (University of Virginia Press, 2013), and World Heritage and National Registers: Stewardship in Perspective, edited by Thomas Gensheimer and Celeste Lovette Guichard (Transaction Publishers, 2014). Papers from the 8th symposium will be published in late 2015 in Modernities Across Time and Space: Architecture and History in Context, edited by Patrick Haughey (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

We invite you to participate. Keynote lectures are free and open to the public, while paper sessions and tours require conference registration.

Robin B. Williams has chaired the SCAD architectural history department since its founding in 1996. He specializes in the history of the built environment of the modern period in Europe and North America.  He earned his B.A. at the University of Toronto and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Since joining SCAD in 1993, Williams has made Savannah the focus of his research, directing the award-winning online Virtual Historic Savannah Project from 1996 to 2005 and is the lead author of a new architectural guidebook, Buildings of Savannah (2015). Read more by Robin here.


Hong Kong fashion talent on the rise


The rise of the Asian fashion market means up and coming designers no longer exclusively eye New York or Paris as launching pads for their careers. Nor does the industry expect that the next generation will hail from one of the traditional fashion capitols. Think Hong Kong’s Henry Lau. In addition to its proximity to the juggernaut of the Chinese market, for example, Hong Kong is home to major brands like Gucci, D&G, LV and Prada – all of which need new talent to thrive and evolve. And so, along with Henry, executives from giants like Polo Ralph Lauren, DKNY and Shanghai Tang attended Savannah College of Art and Design’s inaugural Hong Kong fashion showcase to see what students there have in store for the industry.

With perennial fashion mentor and "America's Next Top Model" staple Miss J Alexander working alongside them behind the scenes, students sent 30 original designs down the runway.

[R]ight now everyone is running to come to China, because China is a huge market that keeps developing and growing.  –Miss J Alexander

Hong Kong native Janet Wong and Singapore native Dawn Bey, both SCAD Hong Kong fashion students, showed pieces from their collections and worked as dressers backstage, assisting models with fitting and changing garments, accessories and shoes.

Dawn showed a dress from her “Detour” collection, designed to send the message that women can do any job. In this garment, the road worker’s vest was transformed in to a dress, and touches of neon pink pop against a yellow mesh vest and gray skirt that’s reminiscent of cement.

[W]hen it comes to being a designer, you have to think about how your customer will eventually wear your clothes. The show also taught me about styling and how to communicate with people. – Dawn Bey

This look by Janet resulted from an assignment to create a collection that combines sportswear and an ethnic group. Janet merged the sport of hunting with a Scottish theme to create garments made of jersey.

As a fashion designer, it is important to know how runway backstage works. From styling, rehearsal, to the final presentation, each step is indispensable for a good fashion show.  – Janet Wong

Referencing standards of beauty in China and Western cultures, her second look was inspired by foot bindings, corsets and Greek sculpture.

With history and culture serving as the basis for her collections, young designers like Janet will inevitably perpetuate the mounting East to West transfer of influence and style.

Reality TV frames up the next great furniture designer


Furniture design is the latest addition to the competition TV landscape, with "Framework" on Spike TV and “Ellen's Design Challenge” set to premiere on HGTV (and screen at aTVfest, Feb. 5 – 7 in Atlanta). Far away from the Hollywood sets of these shows, Lacey Campbell (B.F.A., furniture design, 2008) was quietly making a living as a concept designer at Sauder in Ohio when the producers of “Framework” auditioned her to be one of 13 contestants competing to win $100,000 over the course of ten challenge-driven episodes.

A look at Lacey’s approach to designing and building furniture – sustainable, youthful and effortless for the user - makes it easy to understand why a network would want to bring the craft to the screen. She welcomes the opportunity to teach others about her passion and that, yes, one can pursue furniture as an academic endeavor. Hers is one of more than 300 furniture design degrees that SCAD has awarded since launching its program in 1993. 

Image of Lacey courtesy of Spike TV.

Thread: What is causing audiences to look closer at how their furniture is made and who’s making it?

Lacey Campbell: We are in a maker-focused age. Customers want custom, handmade, homemade, thoughtful things. Clothes, tattoos, food, makeup, and home decor have been done. It was only a matter of time. Although, we’re a rare breed. Because wood workers and metal workers want to take their time to build something, it doesn't surprise me that television hasn’t taken on their timeline until now. It's nice to be noticed.

T: What have you learned from your “Framework” competitors and the fast-paced nature of reality TV?

LC: I’ve learned to let it go. When the pressure is on, some details just won't make it. Being time conscious was a killer. Things would happen that were very hard to spring back from. 'Let it go' became the mantra.

T: Describe the design challenges and how you approached them.

LC: The first challenge was about overall ability.

The judges wanted to see what we could do. It was a wild set of rules and materials, and man was it hot. Fighting for materials in the sun with power tools for two hours was stressful. 

Challenge two was filmed at Spin Standard, a ping pong club in downtown Los Angeles. We had to design ping pong tables that showed style. After a concept review with the judges, we were paired up with another builder. I was paired with Nate Hall. We decided to use my design because of the overwhelming feedback from the judges. Of course, the viewers didn't get to see much of the critiques. As a team we were unable to complete the table and so we were up for elimination. We had to defend our individual performances and Nate was eliminated. It was the most stressful moment standing there, undercutting my opponent after we worked so hard to accomplish something together. 

T: Has the show opened up any new opportunities for you?

LC: I was really inspired and motivated when I returned home.

Being around such an amazing group of designers and builders really made me look within myself.

When I returned home I decided to make a risky move, even more risky than quitting my job to be part of the show. I decided to do whatever it took to start my business. I had been thinking about it for years, dabbling in freelance here and there. But when I got home it just made sense to fight for that, too. I have a refinishing business paired with a design and fabrication studio. I work from home and turned my garage into a shop. But I still have a job working at Lowes part time to support my crazy endeavor. Something else I'm working on is showing at ICFF or Wanted. I plan on taking three to five prototypes to a show during the design week in hopes of launching my brand and products.

Concept design for Sauder Furniture by Lacey Campbell. 

T: How did SCAD prepare you to launch your own brand?

LC: SCAD taught me how to be a talented, aggressive designer.

T: You focus on furniture for young adults. What are some trends in this niche?

LC: Millennials are the most diverse group because of their upbringing and technology. Plus, they are the largest generation since the baby boomers. Their needs are interesting and unique, being so connected has changed how they shop. It’s the perfect problem to solve.

Concept design by Lacey Campbell for Sauder Furniture.

T: What designers and materials inspire you?

LC: Charles and Ray Eames will always be near and dear to my heart. More recently, I'd say Nervous System. The work they are doing with kinetic 3D printing is amazing. I'm working with reclaimed materials right now, with the trend focus being on Industrial Chic. There are a lot of materials that inspire me, currently it's mixed materials like walnut and woven knits.

T: Describe the design scene in Toledo.

LC: There are great opportunities here as a maker and DIYer. The arts community downtown is growing and fostering the arts. I hope to own a warehouse downtown someday that can be made into 3D design studios, maker shops, residential living, community space and a local hangout. I have big dreams for Toledo.

Watch "Framework" Tuesdays at 10 p.m. to see Lacey in action.

The making of a viral wedding video


Before the holidays, you may have shared, "Liked" or received Savannah College of Art and Design alum Tony Pombo’s (M.F.A., film and television, 2008) viral wedding video. His Atlanta-based production company Iris Films documented a husband (Steven) surprising his wife (Kelli) with an epic anniversary celebration, then watched the social media stratosphere explode with admiration. It’s proof that good work speaks for itself. With a season full of engagements complete, and eager brides gearing up to plan their nuptials, the timing couldn’t be better for Tony’s business. Here’s the story behind the video and his success as an entrepreneur. It’s not Tony's first viral video.

Thread: What do you think about all the attention your video has received? How did it get picked up by BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan?

Tony Pombo: This video has been a whirlwind for me. It has gotten all kinds of exposure, which is fantastic. When completed, I sent it over to the husband in the video for review. He loved it and put it on his YouTube channel immediately. Slowly but surely, it got more and more hits and shares. Before we knew it, it was being picked up by all sorts of media outlets. Pretty exciting stuff.

T: How did this collaboration between you and the client unfold?

TP: It came about just as any other wedding video would go. He took a look at my work and really liked the look and feel that I have in my videos, so he reached out. This was months and months prior to the big day. We were in constant contact throughout and discussed all aspects of the shoot.

T: Tell us about directing the video and your production decisions: crew, cameras, audio, etc.

TP: We have filmed all sorts of weddings, from the fun and quirky, to million dollar extravaganzas. One of the key things I learned from my experience is that traveling light is the best way to go. I keep all of my essentials within arms reach, but the smaller the better. For this shoot, there were two videographers (myself and another), two cameras (Canon 5D Mark III and Mark II), and two lavaliere packs that I mic’d the husband and the rabbi with. The husband hired a coordinator to go over the logistics of people moving, arranging the band, keeping secrets, etc. I met with them to stay in the loop and it all went flawlessly.

T: What storytelling devices or techniques did you call upon?

TP: One of the biggest things was getting the story from the horse’s mouth as soon as we got there. That way, I wouldn’t need to waste a lot of time with slates telling us what was going on. We were able to hear it from the husband and hear the excitement and passion in his voice. Another thing was that he had originally planned for me to film his wife getting blindfolded and then follow them in a separate car back to the house. I suggested that we lead her into the backseat instead while I rode in the front so we could get a firsthand look and her initial reaction.

T: When it comes to a viral video, do you think it’s the content or the form that compels people to share it?

TP: It’s really a toss up, as it could be either or a combination of both. You never really know what is going to get picked up or not. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. For example, I had a feeling that this would be big the moment I heard the idea. I had another video go viral about a month before this one. It’s a personal video that I did where we revealed to my mom the gender of our baby. I knew that it would hit big just because of my mom’s reaction. I got calls from Yahoo and The Ellen Show and all sorts of places. It just goes to show that it could be something you just randomly shoot on your phone or a produced piece. It just happens.

T: Why did you get into the wedding business? Wedding videography seems to have evolved significantly.

TP: I was working as a creative director for a company after graduating from SCAD. I decided to shoot weddings on the weekends, as they were not a conflict of interest with my job and I could make some extra cash. I did my first few weddings for free to get an idea of how they are. I really liked it. They are extremely fast-paced and hectic at times, but I meet tons of really amazing people and contacts all the time, which have led to all sorts of other work. People seemed to like my take on weddings and I was getting more and more popular. Enough so that I was able to leave my job and focus on my business full-time. It has been a dream come true. And, yes, the wedding videography scene is not like it was 10-20 years ago. People get a chance to have an actual cinematic experience where they are the stars instead of their uncle with a handy cam capturing their day. It really is an awesome opportunity for the couples.

T: What are the benefits of using your film degree outside of the mainstream industry?

TP: I think it just helps to add a bit more validity to what I do. I am very proud of my MFA degree and I know that it gives me a bit of an advantage when being compared to others in my field.

T: As a professional storyteller, what advice do you give your clients on documenting their most important memories?

TP: My biggest advice is just to be yourself. Every wedding is different because the people are different. And that is a great thing. Even people who are camera shy, that is totally fine. They just get lost in the moment of the day while spending it with their new spouse that they forget we are even there. I like to try and make it feel that I have known, not only the couple, but all of their friends and family for years. Like I am an old friend coming in to shoot their wedding for them. To be honest, this is one of my best secrets that people talk about when recommending me to others. Personality on the day is so crucial.

T: How did SCAD prepare you to form a successful production company?

TP: SCAD helped me the most by giving me a direction to follow in my life. When I graduated from my undergraduate university, I was still a bit lost on which path I wanted to go down. I was passionate but not the most confident in my work. SCAD helped me evolve and grow as a filmmaker and as an adult, which ultimately led to my business.

T: What insights would you share with film students or those looking to attend film school?

TP: Be open to new ideas and new people. This is such a collaborative industry where it is all about networking and being social. You are going to work with people that you might not necessarily have hung out with before attending film school, and more often than not, they will inspire you and help you grow as an artist.

T: What’s next for you and Iris?

TP: I am branching further into branding and creative, corporate work along with more fun and exciting weddings. I also want to get back to my film roots and create another short film or two in the near future. I just had my first little girl a few months back and she has become my full inspiration to tackle the world. 2015 is going to be great.

Where to look for the next big idea in design? The university.


Given, there’s a universal quality to “good design.” But how far does universal go? When it comes to solving for design dilemmas and implementing these solutions in city-specific ways, does good design really mean the same thing in New York, London, Paris? Across all continents? In the case of SCADpad®, World Architecture News answered “yes” when it handed Savannah College of Art and Design its first international award for the SCADpad micro-house community.

Attracting more than 1,300 entries from 72 countries, the WAN Awards are among the largest of their kind, and a barometer for what’s trending in architecture and urban design on a global scale. SCADpad emerged a winner from a long list of submissions from countries as far flung as Singapore and Sydney, Florence and Monterrey.

Why does SCADpad resonate internationally? It goes beyond the three prototypes, inspired by and named for Asia, Europe and North America.

SCAD is a global institution with a presence on three continents and a diverse student body that hails from more than 100 countries worldwide. A natural and regular outgrowth of its composition are projects that transcend international borders and push the limits of what’s being done in design.

That’s a good idea! We have been talking about this for years and here they did it. -WAN Award judge Mark Mimram, Marc Mimram Architects, Paris

Even when SCAD acts locally, as it did when it built SCADpad in its back yard (well, parking deck), its agenda is global. Underpinning that agenda is a belief that design can change the world, and the world view of aspiring designers who are informed by experiences in their home countries, like industrial design student Chung-Hsiang Wang (Taichung City, Taiwan) who created 3-D objects for SCADpad.

I've lived in Bombay and seen the space constraints, especially in the slum area. Micro-housing units could be a solution. - Sharika Menon, interior design student and SCADpad resident

Secondly, when design efficiently addresses a pressing social concern, especially one that is widely held, it sparks conversation. Globally, the urban population is expected to increase to 5 billion people over the next two decades. With half the world’s population already living in urban areas, this increase will squeeze the global housing inventory even more. Simultaneously, the parking garage has reentered the dialogue and presented new opportunities for architectural ingenuity. Think 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami.

SCAD aligned these trends, added a dose of expertise in adaptive reuse, and created a laboratory where 75 graduate and undergraduate students from 12 academic programs - including furniture and interactive design, architecture and design for sustainability - could apply their solutions for the urban housing shortage.

The resulting SCADpads may not have been created outside of the university setting. If urban design by its nature is transdisciplinary, then very seldom do the resources exist outside of a collaborative setting like the academic one to solve for the kind of pressing global issues that rarely see breakthrough solutions.

So, it appears, SCADpad was recognized by an international body as much for the final result as it was for the process behind its creation.

Though it was the only university-sponsored project among WAN’s 2014 urban design contenders, SCADpad is evidence that, just as the world depends on research universities for scientific breakthroughs, we can look to art and design universities to inspire and deliver viable concepts for our most pressing social challenges. We should follow WAN's lead and take a closer look inside these classrooms for the next big ideas.

What is branded entertainment? Ask Stafford Green.


Branded entertainment is pervasive. You’ve probably shared, “Liked” or been the target of such campaigns without even knowing how this content gets made. Stafford Green, honorary chairman of branded entertainment at Savannah College of Art and Design, is hoping to change that. An award-winning marketer for major brands like Coca-Cola, Stafford partnered with SCAD to start the country’s first academic degree program in branded entertainment, a $44 billion dollar industry. He didn’t arrive at being a brand marketing leader through a formulaic path, but he’s hoping that SCAD’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program will provide a map for those who want to enjoy a career similar to his.

Thread: Welcome to SCAD. For starters, what is branded entertainment?

Stafford Green: Branded entertainment means creating entertaining content that can capture and maintain consumer attention. It allows brands to make deeper connections with their audiences by engaging them wherever they happen to be – at a concert, on a mobile phone, watching TV, sitting with a PC, eating popcorn at a cinema, or experiencing an art installation.

Branded entertainment captivates audiences using great storytelling.

It’s no longer sufficient to simply push messages, especially to Millennials. Consumers increasingly demand brand messages that inform and entertain. Companies need to attract consumers with desirable messages and stories; to give their audience reasons to listen, engage and buy. I was a branded entertainment creative and producer at Coca-Cola. I loved working with a big global brand where I was allowed to combine and cross different artistic mediums in order to connect with consumers. It was fun, lucrative, creative and big. It was a great ride and one that I hope to help others achieve, too.

T: Tell us more about your work for Coca-Cola?

SG: Until last summer, I worked at Coca-Cola for many years helping the company transform how we advertised big brands like Coke, Sprite and Vitamin Water. My team held 'how to' workshops all over the world to teach trends in digital marketing and emerging media. We created The Coca-Cola Content Factory to prove that fans, crowds and small producers can create amazing films, games and websites more quickly and more cheaply by using new methods and technologies. We helped the company achieve great success by changing how it communicates to consumers who are powered up with new devices.

While my team was making an impact in this regard, I found myself wanting to make a personal contribution outside of Coke. So I retired early because I wanted to give back to a younger generation. I know you hear people say that, and it sounds like such spin, but I honestly wanted to do something good for the world. What I had learned in over two decades at Coke was a better, more authentic way of advertising – the kind of cool marketing that is evolving into new forms of communication. SCAD was a perfect fit to help me achieve my mission.

T: What makes SCAD the ideal place to launch an undergraduate degree in branded entertainment?

SG: SCAD is a special place and an ideal launching pad for this creative-business endeavor. Because the university has the faculty and degree programs it takes to make the branded entertainment degree possible, from advertising, to game development and foundations classes, we didn’t have to build the major from scratch. Second, where it was missing classes, like a branded entertainment portfolio development class, SCAD invested the time and energy to create these classes and to do it well. Third, SCAD’s approach to liberal arts, inclusive of subjects like color theory and Western art, gives students a critical and often overlooked foundation for telling authentic stories. It isn’t just about the mechanics.   

Home to more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta is laboratory where students can immerse themselves directly into advertising's revolution, and SCAD Atlanta has some of the most amazing equipment. For one, the Digital Media Center, complete with a TV studio, green screen lab, game studies lab and more, allows students to experiment with what they’re learning in order to build an industry-valued portfolio. Simply put, this is a great place to be.

T: How do you go about building a program that is so interdisciplinary in scope?

SG: I worked hard to build a program that will give advertising and art production students a competitive edge for the careers. The idea is that when they graduate with a degree in branded entertainment and are sitting in front of an interviewer, they will be able to answer questions and show a portfolio like no other candidate. They’ll understand how to apply a brand voice to the art of storytelling and possess the brand-inspired production talent to make a film, game or interactive asset. I want grads to rock. The process was driven by the excellent leadership of SCAD’s ‎chief academic officer, Gokhan Ozaysin. He connected me to dozens of smart professors and administrators in many disciplines at SCAD so we could choose the right program requirements. What makes the build particularly terrific is that I leveraged my industry friends, too; people I have met during the course of working in 12 countries over the last 25 years.

Marketing professionals from Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Apple and Google all had a part in building the curriculum.

Award-winning agencies like Work Club in London gave advice. At conferences I would quiz everyone on program specifics, from L'Oreal, to Buzzfeed and InBev. One thing is certain: the industry, comprised of movie studios, consumer goods companies, agencies and media companies, loves this idea. Their positive response confirmed to me that what we're building at SCAD is unique and valuable. We’re setting the stage to make a difference by giving students the power to create better advertising and to excite and entertain audiences for generations to come.

T: Which academic subjects comprise the degree requirements?

SG: Branded entertainment is a multidisciplinary approach that combines art and science, business and creativity.

The job of this major is to release the grand storyteller in all of us.

Foundational subjects in marketing theory, design, English, writing, drawing and storytelling provide a liberal arts basis. Business and entrepreneurial classes will give students the tools to run their own companies. For those wishing to work for large companies, the program will provide instruction on how to pitch an idea internally and negotiate corporate politics in order to see that idea through to fruition. Concentrations in gaming, film and television, or interactive will give students corresponding production skills and a portfolio for job interviews.

I must emphasize that the overall theme is storytelling. There isn’t a simple formula to what makes good branded entertainment. It’s about creating a uniquely personal and emotional experience every time.

Consumers want quality, branded entertainment anywhere at any time - they will reward companies with their loyalty who get this right. I really look forward to SCAD's branded entertainment graduates creating share-worthy film, game and interactive content that rises above the noise with brilliant branded storytelling. This is exciting! - Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

T: Are graduates with this type of degree and expertise in demand?

SG: Yes and these jobs can be really fun. A quick search for “branded content” or “branded entertainment” on a job site like delivers substantial opportunities. That’s because agencies and companies everywhere are starved for content. New media companies, such as Netflix, Amazon and Buzzfeed, need producers for games and films. Movie studios need help authentically placing brands in stories because generic product placement is awful! Gaming companies need new sources of revenue. Creating ways of connecting with brands through smart storytelling is a brilliant way to achieve all of this.

Outdoors in focus: photos of national parks question our intentions


It’s that time of year when most of us change our focus from outdoors to in. But not Savannah College of Art and Design graduate student Marc Newton (M.F.A., photography). He’s preparing to unveil his thesis project Constructed Paradise (Nov. 14 – 18 at Non-Fiction Gallery), which sent him on a two-year jaunt through the country’s most treasured natural landmarks. His photographs, staged in national parks as far flung as Joshua Tree and Everglades National Park, feature verdant landscapes interrupted by the minimalist form of nude mannequins posing not so subtlety in their midst. The question Marcus seeks to answer with these images is whether we objectify our sacred lands just as we objectify human beauty. Does our affection for our national parks spring from a fount of goodwill or is it rooted in something that’s inherently uncharitable?

"This image was taken in Mt. Baker National Forest. It is the most recent image I've made for this project. I enjoy this image mostly because the figure's haggard condition mimics the hill's terrain. Earlier, the mannequin fell into a river fed by glacier melt. Since it was moving so swiftly and went straight towards the center of the river, I counted it as a loss. Almost a mile down stream, a camper yelled, 'Did you loose your girl?' It was caught in his fishing net."

Marc does for nature what Dove does for a woman’s self image. His photographs make us pause to consider whether in commercializing our parks and encircling them with fences, we resurrect a standard of beauty that causes us to neglect spaces that are just as worthy of our attention, albeit more common.

I’m comparing two things in this series. I’m comparing aesthetic beauty found in the landscape and aesthetic beauty found in the human form and how both things are so common to sensationalize and romanticize that we kind of have this hierarchy of things with beauty. They get more attention, more protection. Is this the right path to take when we’re talking about the environment?

"We woke up very early to make this image in Pisgah National Forest, outside of Brevard, North Carolina. While walking the mannequin towards the river, there were two guys in the neighboring campsite who were very curious as to why we were carrying plastic body parts. It turns out they both graduated from SCAD in 2009. Small world."

Thread: What inspired this approach to your thesis topic? Are you a nature lover?

Marcus Newton: I went to college in western North Carolina at Brevard College. Brevard is based off of the tourist industry and people travel there to go to nature. It always made me take a step back and see what the land did besides be a landscape. It provided an industry and an infrastructure for towns like Brevard. So I’ve always been interested in that relationship between nature and industry.

"This image was made in Joshua Tree National Park. I rented this mannequin from a shop in Hollywood the day before, then went straight to camp to explore Joshua Tree. It may not look it in this image, but the wind was relentless. The wind collapsed my tent and I had to sleep between two boulders."

T: Where did you shoot the images?

MN: Most are in the southeast. I shot all the photographs on government-protected land. The subjects had to be government protected to keep it consistent. The places I photographed were picturesque enough to protect. Places like Yosemite, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Everglades National Park, Joshua Tree, Mount Baker National Park. National parks, state parks, wildlife protection areas, anything protected.

Are we letting humans own this landscape or are we letting it naturally progress? It comes down to are we trying to preserve or are we trying to protect? Or is there a difference between preserving something and protecting it?

"Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys is one of the only places in South Florida where white sandy beaches are naturally ocurring. Since most of the Southern coast is wrapped by Mangrove, most of the beaches are man-made. After finding my frame, I had a group of Italian tourists help hit the shutter so I could hide behind the beach grass and hold the mannequin up by the ankles."

T: Did you carry the mannequins with you over the course of two years?

MN: Basically yes. I’ve trucked them all around the country. I just have them in my truck. Right now there are four of them in my garage. I’ve picked a couple of them up in random stores in Hollywood and I’ve rented them. I’ve bought a couple of them. All of the above. The one at Mt. Baker, I bought it a month before I went there and right before I left I sold it on Craigslist. There were all kinds of weird run-ins with people along the way. I’m carrying mannequins around the woods and people see me all the time doing it, so there’s are a lot of random stories about that.

Next, you might see Marc's mannequins in a city near you. He plans to install them on life-size replicas of his photos to create the same contrast in an urban setting.