BYU animation short film ‘Student Accomplice’ premieres at Varsity Theatre

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BYU animation seniors premiered their short film and capstone project “Student Accomplice” on May 15 in the Varsity Theatre for a crowd of more than 400 students and loved ones. 

The film uses 7,000 individual images just under five minutes, telling the story of a driving test gone wrong. A nervous teenage girl and her old, but rather tranquil driving examiner go through the motions of the exam when their vehicle is hijacked by a burly bank robber.

The film takes the audience along for the ride as the robber compels the girl in the driver’s seat to outrun the police while her nonplussed examiner continues his assessment.

The chase is punctuated with physical comedy that garnered laughs from the crowd of adults and children alike. 

“Student Accomplice” has been a year and a half in the making, and the student animators involved in its production have been anticipating the day when they can finally show their creation to the world. 

The audience gives a standing ovation at the end of the short film’s screening. The director showed the film twice so that everyone who came could take a seat and watch. (Megan Sibley)

In the days leading up to the premiere, Delaney Reed, a recent computer science graduate and character rigger for the project, said she just hoped people would like it. 

“I feel like we’ve spent so much time with the film that I know all of the jokes and every beat of the story … sometimes I forget that, like, it’s funny,” Reed said. 

Spencer Baird, the director of the film, expressed similar sentiments.

When asked what part of the film he was most proud of, Baird said, “Well, I guess just today, hearing people laugh at the parts we (wanted them to) … that’s just super cool to have something that you spend hours trying to craft and hopefully it’s funny to people. And then when they actually find it funny, that’s pretty great.” 

The common theme among all the student animators interviewed was an appreciation for each other as a team. The collaborative nature of the program drew the students together.

“We’re like family,” Connor Murray, soon-to-be graduate and animator for the film, said. “To get to see your family succeed with you is very heartwarming.”

Director Spencer Baird delivers a brief speech prior to the showing. He expressed gratitude to his fellow animators and friends. (Megan Sibley)

Many of the short films made by previous BYU animation students have won Student Academy Awards and Emmy Awards. “Student Accomplice” will be submitted for these awards in the coming weeks. 

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