Student Academy Awards

Jun 5

Meet Amanda Tasse

Amanda Tasse - University of Southern California - Alternative Winner


Amanda Tasse has always been very “multi-media.”  Growing up, she did lots of arts and crafts and was able to play around with different cameras that her father shot on.  In middle school, Amanda started carrying a camera around to document her daily life.  Then in high school, shot her first narrative - a 3-minute super 8 film on Kafka’s “The Trial” (which she made instead of writing a paper on it).  Amanda went on to art school at the Maryland Institute, College of Art.  She kept busy making video installations, working for a production designer, working in post-production on creative documentaries for Disney, all while painting and sculpting on the side. 

University of Southern California

Amanda always imagined her paintings to be moving so she went back to school at USC for Animation, and then went on to the Media Arts + Practice PhD program.  Within each, she explored alternative approaches to cinema and intersections between cinema and research.  She met talented peers and had a wide network of mentors, among the departments that balanced traditional industry and experimental approaches to cinema.  Amanda recommends film school to aspiring filmmakers, as a way to put in undivided attention into developing work and creating a large network of connections.

"The Reality Clock"

"The Reality Clock" was inspired by two experiences.  Amanda’s work with individuals with dementia led to non-linear, associative, seemingly right-brained conversations and she could sense the wisdom of deeper emotional expression.  In parallel, her own father’s health was deteriorating— but it was his body and not his mind that was breaking apart.  Combining these two, the film allowed Amanda to contemplate the loss of self, both physical and mental (which Amanda does not see as that separate).  It’s a heavy film but reminds you of how important it is to value all stages of the human experience on a very basic level.

Amanda on the visual design: “The visual design was hugely important.  I started by developing the main character, the elderly puppet.  I decided that he should be set in time-periods which overlap and reflect a nostalgia for the decades that would be most important to his memories: 1890s-1940s.  I wanted to use the varying media and design to create some contrasts between his present day and his memories.  I juxtaposed a dark and heavy feel to the detailed wood interior with colorful, photographic, flickery landscape memories, additionally layered by reflections.  The orange lit, late afternoon ambiance of the interior reminds me of the slight heaviness of a late Sunday afternoon, a sense of anticipation for what is ahead combined with a desire to appreciate the fading weekend.  I imagined the character as embodying the sense of being both a puppet and live-action ghost-like memory, each existing simultaneously in different types of time and space and reflecting upon the other.  The time-lapse footage is of places my family lived: Georgia, South Carolina, and Ohio.  Developing the film in stereoscopic 3D was also an adventure!  I am very interested in how stereoscopic 3D can be used as an additional art design element to drive narrative emotion.”

What’s Next?

Amanda sees herself as a Creative Director and continues to be involved with a number of different projects across media formats.  She is currently developing an experimental game in which everyday user activities influence the visual design of the game worlds.  She is continuing to explore how more existential themes can be communicated through subtle narrative and cinematic visual design.  She’d like to develop more live-action and animated hybrid films in the future.

Check out the website for “The Reality Clock.”

And check out a clip from “The Reality Clock.”