On Tuesday, May 31, at 4:30 pm in The Moore Theater of the Hop, at the annual Arts at Dartmouth Awards, about 75 Dartmouth students will receive awards for special achievements in the performing and visual arts, and film and media. It’s a free event, and includes a reprise of the musical number All That Jazz from the Department of Theater’s stellar winter 2016 production of Chicago; the screenings of two short student-made films; and remarks by this year’s guest of honor, Michael Rafter ’82, an Emmy award-winning television and Broadway music director.
LIZZY ROGERS ’16, winner of this year’s James Joseph Kaplan Filmmaker of the Year Award, was already an animation geek when she came to Dartmouth, including being a devotee of the bonus features on DVDs that reveal how the likes of Tim Burton and Pixar artists create their magic. Studying animation at Dartmouth, however, seemed out of the question because she wasn’t a confident in drawing.
“I was going to study anthropology or archeology and become a professor, and maybe do a minor in film for fun if I had time,” she recalled recently. She went to the Film & Media Studies open house and saw there was an animation course with Jodie Mack. “I said to her, ‘Professor, I would love to take your course—but maybe a little later, after I’ve taken some drawing courses. She said, ‘No, no, you don’t need to know how to draw—here, look at this person and this person and this person. I’m sure you can do animation right now. You’re in my class.’ If you’ve ever met Jody, you know that’s the energy. I went to her studio and never left.”
Rogers has also been a part of the student Shakespeare group The Dartmouth Rude Mechanicals and has designed projections for theater productions.
Mack’s films make extensive use of collage and actual film, and a hands-on, frame-by-frame method involving a simple animation stand, in which a camera is fixed above a surface on which the animation objects are manipulated. Rogers’ films combine this low-tech approach with digital image manipulation.
Rogers is unabashed in saying she hopes to follow in Mack’s footsteps and go to graduate school, teach animation at university and make experimental films. She has made a good start: she has served as a TA in Mack’s class, helping fellow students dive into the meticulous work and wide-open possibilities of animation.
“Jodie is really the one who has helped shape my experience here in incredible ways. She’s my mentor, she’s my friend, she’s my professor. I don’t know what she saw in that freshman, but I’m glad she did.”
A number of Rogers’ films have been shown at festivals, including The Indie Grits Festival in Columbia, SC, April 2015, and the White River Indie Films festival this May in White River Junction, VT, and her film A Lyric, a tender, fierce rendering of the T.S. Eliot poem of the same name, will be shown at the Arts Awards. Later that evening, her culminating film project will be shown at 7 pm in the Loew Auditorium of the Black Family Visual Arts Center. The screening is free and open to the public.
Next year, look for Rogers at the Jones Media Center where she has a one-year fellowship and will be helping patrons and students use digital media, and putting on workshops as well as doing her own work. Although Jones specializes in digital media, they are excited about Rogers’ love of the handmade and are interested how she might influence what they offer. And, yes, that probably includes installing an animation stand.