Updated: Nov 2
"The ABC's of Community Arts," a behind-the-scenes documentary about a mid-pandemic community production of the "ABC's of Anxiety," will be shown at the Chatham-Kent International Film Festival as well as the Forest City Film Festival this October.
I directed the 15 minute comedy documentary as a grad student in York U’s Interdisciplinary Studies program. The film will premier at the Chatham-Kent International Film Festival on Oct 1st, where we were nominated for Best Documentary, and then go on to the Forest City International Film Festival on Oct 15th.
The subject of the documentary is a 2-minute cartoon titled “The ABCs of Anxiety”; a tragicomic, alphabetical list of pandemic mental health challenges (see below). The animation features the bizarre character illustrations and poetry of Toronto artist Sean Sinclair-Day. The 15 minute POV (Point of View) documentary details the “Making Of” that cartoon, and includes versions of Sean's characters as narrators in the documentary.
The 2-minute ABCs animated film began as “Community Arts Comedy Production”, my self-directed, grad level course. I felt that the cartoon’s “making of” story was worth telling, as it was produced virtually during the pandemic by 12 York students across 5 different faculties. It was quite a challenge to accomplish.
The documentary digs deep into the months of crazy Zoom meetings we had during the
cartoon’s production, when participants came and went according to the demands of their classes and assignment. Also, we did some voice-recordings simultaneously in two different cities, MacGyvering all the digital and livestreaming tools we could muster.
The 15-minute documentary includes original music from a York Jazz PhD student, voice-acting from an MFA screenwriting candidate and a PhD candidate in Cinema & Media Studies.
“The ABCs of Anxiety” poem was vetted for mental health considerations by Masters and PhD students in York’s Psychology department, and the cartoon’s online promotional campaign was executed by a team of York Digital Marketing international students (most of whom were studying remotely from India during the pandemic).