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Interview With Ashley Gerst Winner of Cinefern Film Award and Competition

The Spirit Seam a Film Written and Directed by Ashley Gerst won Best Animation Films award at Cinefern Film Award and Competition's January 2019.

The Spirit Seam Poster

The Film is about The Spirit Seam is an animated short film by Ashley Gerst that mixes practical sets, 3d and 2d animation. It takes place in 1950's Appalachian mining country, and tells the story of Pap-Paw and his granddaughter, Pollywog. The two are inseparable until an illness threatens to fracture their family.

Ashley Gerst is a 2D, 3D and motion graphics animator living in Stony Point, NY.

In addition to her professorial work at William Paterson, Ashley is a freelance animator working for a variety of production companies and clients in the Greater New York City area. She has created animation and VFX for broadcast commercials, TV shows, and documentaries for AMC, VH1, and BET. Some of her clients include Fast Company, Behance, Credit Suisse, Nivea, Nissan, Afrin, Red Bull, Hudson Media, CBS, Nurturing Press, iNomadics, Redwood Living and more.

Ashley Gerst has also been responsible for creating title sequences for two feature films: The Con is On (2018, starring Uma Thurman and Tim Roth, distributed by Grindhouse: Lionsgate) and Can You Keep A Secret (2019, starring Alexandra Daddario, Kimiko Glenn, Laverne Cox, and Tyler Hoechlin).

As of January 2019, Ashley has finished her independently created animated short film: "The Spirit Seam" and has submitted it to film festivals worldwide. It has been accepted into over 100 and has won several words including Best Animation and Artistic Excellence.

As of December 2019, Ashley has been named Co-Leader of the Women in Animation Organization's New York City Chapter.

Interview With Ashley Gerst

Q: What is the basic Idea Behind the film?

Ashley Gerst: The film follows Pollywog and Pap-Paw as they go through their daily life in their small coal mining town. It is meant to be a slice of life film with magical components.

Q: How do you handle the Pre-Production, and Post Production?

Ashley Gerst: I started with pre-production. The story, script and storyboards came first. While I was creating hte storyboards, I began working on the sets for the film. I try to tackle the elements of the film that I know 100% will not be changed. Then, I will move forward with areas of the film that I feel may be changed after critique and feedback.

Post-Production took the longest time - rendering a 3D film can take hours/days. I used a render farm, but I have estimated that the film took over 150 24-hr days to render completely. This is not including mistakes that needed to be re-rendered, too.

Q: What do you do to stay calm during Production of the film?

Ashley Gerst: There were some stressful moments while I was trying to make self-imposed deadlines for the film, but overall it was a calm and exciting experience! I enjoy making work, and find myself excited to create more - I am working on another film now called "Being Pushed Down by Shadow" that I expect to complete in 2023.

Q: What sort of stories excites you?

Ashley Gerst: I love magical realism: the idea that something could be magical, or maybe could be in the audience's or characters heads is something I enjoy reading, watching, and creating.

Q: Do you think all the good stories have already been made into a movie?

Ashley Gerst: I don't think so, there are so many stories out there!

Q: While casting for your film you prefer to cast a well known face or any new face which fit the character?

Ashley Gerst: The character design was based on myself and my grandfather for the most part. There are some significant similarities, but the characters are not full copies of us.

Q: What is the most enjoyable thing about Production of the film?

Ashley Gerst: Easily the set construction and the animation! I love animating, sometimes the journey to get there seems so long!

Q: What is the best possible way to promote your film when you are on a tight budget?

Ashley Gerst: There are lots of cheap web hosting options out there. But social media is truly the best way.

Q: When your next film is coming and what is it about?

Ashley Gerst: My next film is Being Pushed Down by Shadow, and I expect it to be done in late 2023. Being Pushed Down by Shadow is an animated short film. It is a heartfelt horror story loosely inspired by events from my life. The film follows a college-aged daughter named Paula and her mother as they go about their very different, and often opposing lives together. The film follows the main characters through the summer of 1970 as they slowly become haunted by a matriarchal and ominous presence in their home, the ghost of an old woman. Both women grow closer as the mother begins to receive treatment for lung cancer and they realize they are being haunted by the same force.

Q: What advice do you want to give to the new and upcoming filmmakers?

Ashley Gerst: Always keep moving forward, even if it doesn't feel like you have the time to or you feel a bit blocked. Even 1 hr a day, or a half hour a day, can add up to a LOT of time over the course of a year!


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