By Aileen Taylor
Lemmings don”t actually follow each other off cliffs.
That legend of accidental suicide was perpetuated in the 1950s by a Disney documentary, and has clung tenaciously to the public mind ever since. Anytime a lemming is portrayed, it is always wondering off a cliff with the rest of the herd.
The legend may not actually be true, but in the last year a group of BYU students have proved that it sure does make a good story.
Last year, several BYU students took the idea of these arctic mice mindlessly following the crowd and turned it into short animation – a short that is receiving global recognition.
“Lemmings” was pitched by Craig Van Dyke, the director of the animation. The story is about a cartoon lemming that tries to save other lemmings from jumping off of a cliff.
“”Lemmings” is probably the first official animation to come through the department,” said Kelly Loosli, an assistant professor in the Theater and Media Arts Department.
The project was a collaborative effort that consisted mostly of seniors in the industrial design major, emphasizing in animation. Animation has since become a major.
“Most of the students who worked on ”Lemmings” were hired into the film industry,” said R. Brent Adams, associate professor of industrial design and animation in the School of Technology. “Several students were hired by the company that created ”Titanic” and ”Grinch” and are working on a new movie called, ”I Robot.” One student had three job offers in three days and took the offer at the company who creates the ”Star Wars” movies as well as ”Hulk” and ”Pirates of the Caribbean.””
Most recently, “Lemmings” won the Emmy award for best student computer animation.
“This is a significant award for the students,” Adams said.
Aside from that, the short film has received incredible recognition as well as a long list of awards, including WestFest Film Festival in Texas, Outstanding Achievement, the PISAF Animation Festival in Korea and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in Florida, where “Lemmings” took 3rd place in Animation.
“Lemmings” also won at Final Cut, the BYU Student Film Festival. It was last year”s 1st place overall-best film.
At the Animex Student Animation Awards in the UK it was a finalist in 3D Computer Animation and won Best Short Animation and Best Sound, although awards have not yet been announced.
The film has competed successfully in a number of other film festivals, as well, and is expected to perform with equally high scores in the festivals it has recently been submitted to.
“We have had a lot of success over in the past few years, but this is the best year as a whole,” Adams said.