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HHS graduate's film accepted for world festival

Anne Beal Anne Beal

Anne Beal's film, "Balance and Swing," is a short animated feature, abstract and delicate, and evocative as it tells "this story of a woman's life in little snatches."

It's also the result of a very long and very tedious process.
"It's a hand-painted animation," she said, "painted with watercolors and walnut ink. Each individual frame is a painting."
The film is made up of 2,520 individual paintings, no one exactly alike. She photographed each one with a digital camera to make the movie. She made "Balance and Swing" as her graduation project at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a degree in film, animation and video.
"I started in September 2011 and ended in May of 2012, every single day," she said. "I worked on it between 12 and 18 hours a day. You learn a lot about the process. You learn a lot about yourself."
Beal, who grew up in Hendersonville and graduated from Hendersonville High School in 2005, is the daughter of Lou Reeves and Robert Beal Sr. Her stepfather is David Reeves. Her brother, Robert Beal Jr., is a 2008 graduate of HHS.
"Balance and Swing," 3 minutes and 21 seconds long, has been selected by the Annecy Animation International Film Festival in France. In June she'll go to the city in the French Alps (closer to Geneva than Paris) and see the best animation work in the world. Her film was among 213 films from 43 countries that the festival accepted out of 2,461 submitted. Hers is in the Graduation Film category.
"There's going to be all these filmmakers," she said. "I'll be able to rub shoulders with some real impressive people and that will be really cool. But I'll also get to meet some young filmmakers that are just starting out."
A professor from RISD and a fellow student whose films were selected are also going. "There'll be at least two people there I know and trust," she said.
She will be on a panel with seven or eight other young filmmakers for a Q&A after the festival shows their films. Her hope is that someone will see that special spark in her work.
"I'm open to a lot of different things" in terms of animation work, she said. "They can recognize talent. People who sometimes are in position of creative expertise, part of why they're out there is they can recognize creativity."
Her art teacher at HHS, Mark Phillips, saw Anne's gift and desire.
"I'd have to say he was a big influence on me," she said. "He was part of the reason I went to Rhode Island in the first place. When I was in high school he really encouraged me. He could see I wanted more than our school could offer. They offer a six-week intensive program and I ended up going (in 2004 after her junior year). I developed my whole portfolio. It was my first taste of intense art school and how hard you have to work. I made friends there that are still my friends today."
She also credits art teacher, Elissa Melaragno Smith, who taught her after school at the ARTS Center downtown, starting at age 5. HHS strings teacher Margery Kowal was another important influence. Anne still plays the violin. "When I do my sound design I like to use my violin to make sounds," she said.
Living the starving artist's life in Chicago, Beal is looking for animation and sound design work, another of her specialties.
Her latest project was for something called "The Say What Show" by a small studio in New York, in which animators make short videos about the origins of common sayings like dead as a doornail. Hers was cut to the chase.
"It was really a fun thing," she said. "It actually originated in the silent film era. It was a blast. I ended up making all these puppets and combining them with silent film footage. If every job could be like that I'd have it made."
She shopped at thrift stores for supplies. "A lot of people don't realize how much materials cost that go into these things," she said. She worked on "Cut to the Chase" for three months.
"That one paid all of 500 bucks," she said. "I'll take what I can get."