Cox, 180LA, Oscar-Winning Director Patrick Osborne Team On Animated Rendition Of School Play For Performing Arts Students

By

Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2021

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When the pandemic took away Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts Middle School’s stage, Cox used technology to help bring it back. Cox this week unveiled a sneak peek at the upcoming animated film titled Drawn Closer created by real middle school drama students in Henderson, Nevada with Best Animated Short Oscar-winning director Patrick Osborne (Feast) and ad agency 180LA.  The full animated Cox short--helmed by Osborne via Nexus Studios--hits screens this May. This ScreenWork entry is a “making of” BTS look at the short.

As schools struggle to return to normal, many extracurriculars and “nonessential” activities have been sidelined, leaving kids without a vital outlet for creativity and peer connection. According to a survey conducted by the Educational Theatre Association, 85% of schools canceled performances in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Like many institutions, Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts is working to make extracurriculars happen for their students despite social distancing,” said Mark Greatrex, EVP, chief marketing and sales officer for Cox Communications. “Hearing their story, we wanted to do our part to help. Hopefully, this will ignite the imaginations of students across the country.” 

Using technology and expert resources, Cox is helping Thurman White drama students ensure their show goes on. Instead of a typical school play, these students are using technology to voice and puppeteer their own characters in an animated short, from the safety of their own homes.

“As a dad of two elementary school children, I’ve seen the impact that remote learning has had on kids’ connections to their friends, and to the activities that give them a sense of belonging” said Mike Bokman, executive creative director at 180LA. “Helping the theater students of Thurman White reconnect, and giving them a chance to perform together again under this bigger, brighter spotlight, felt like it made a difference. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us.”

For Cox, Drawn Closer is the latest effort that represents another step in an ongoing commitment to deliver human connection where it’s needed most and a demonstration of the power of technology to bring people closer.

Students will be fully hands-on throughout the process, even stepping into a virtual booth to record their lines, while being directed by Osborne over Zoom. Facial capture technology is used to record each of the students’ performances and expressions to make their characters in the animated film as true to life as possible.  To top off the experience, the animated short will debut in a Hollywood-inspired virtual premier party where students will walk the virtual red carpet and celebrate with their fellow students and families.

“Working with these kids was easily the best part of the project. They were endless wells of enthusiasm and natural performers. Each student brought a unique sensibility to the characters that elevated the story to a hugely entertaining and emotional plane,” said Nexus Studios’ Osborne.

This film was produced by Cox, in collaboration with ad agency 180LA and Nexus Studios to inspire all of us to stay connected and show the power technology has to bring us closer to one another during difficult times.

The animated short Drawn Closer will premiere on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 9) on Cox Yurview. 

Credits

Client Cox Communications Agency 180LA Al Moseley, chief creative officer; Mike Bokman, executive creative director; Jason Rappaport, group creative director; Emma Zakes Green, Amar Marwaha, copywriters; Elizabeth Lay, sr. art director; Arvid Harnqvist, art director; Bryan Sweeney, head of production; Kaleen Ogden, head of strategy; Mauricio Barreda, strategist. Production Nexus Studios Patrick Osborne, director, script writer; Juliet Tierney, exec producer; Josephine Gallagher, producer; Edith Chappey, production manager; Mark Davies, CG lead; Melanie Climent, art director/designer/matte painting; Marta Martin Blanco, storyboard; Rayner Alencar, character designer;  David Díaz Jiménez, Katrina Hill, Joachim Loesener, Petri Aaltonen, character modeling; Niko Rossi, rigging; Kenny Ip. lead lighter; Patrick Tomasini, modeling & lighting; Irina Nguyen, Fabien Glasse, shading & modeling; William Lorton, Alex Alabadi Aragó, Pierre Plouzeau, Steve Brown, Steve White, Clément Fassler, Quentin Dubois, animation; Gareth Tredrea, Aitor Arroyo, Frederic Heymans, Ewelina Freuer, Dalvir Matharu, compositing; Tom Melson, pipeline developer/TD; Harry Nichols, pipeline assistant; Bethany Levy, motion graphics designer; Mark Van Heusden, Ben Hunt, Kyle Jon Shephard, editing; David Slade, grading. Live-Action Production Nexus Studios Fernanda Garcia Lopez, producer; Michael Schlenker, live-action producer; Kevin Barrera, production manager; Mark Tierney, DP; Traiana Nescheva, tech. Sound Studio POLLEN

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