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Film Delivers Mesmerizing Storytelling Fusion

Film Delivers Mesmerizing Storytelling Fusion

In the vibrant realm of animation, where creativity knows no bounds, Josiah Herren is a rising star whose talent shines brightly. Herren is a passionate animator whose short film, "Holy Chess," wowed the audience at the recent Oaks Christian Film Festival. Not only is the journey behind his film remarkable, but it is also a testament to the profound influence of the OCS film program in nurturing budding talents like Herren's.

"Holy Chess" isn't just a film; it's a mesmerizing fusion of Western storytelling and Eastern anime aesthetics, masterfully crafted by Herren's boundless imagination and dedication. Plunging into the depths of existentialism through the guise of a celestial chess match between brothers, the film offers a poignant reflection on the eternal struggle between light and darkness. The caliber of the film is at the professional, commercial level.

"Creating 'Holy Chess' was a deeply personal journey for me,” Herren said. “It allowed me to express my thoughts on existential themes in a unique and visually captivating manner." 

The process behind creating the film took Herren two years. He began taking animation classes as a freshman and knew that he wanted to have the film finished by his junior year. The process of this specific animation style was quite interesting. Both Herren and his co-star, junior Mel Dott, acted out the scenes in front of a green screen. Herren then used AI animation and hand-drawing to help guide the process into the actual art style he was going for.

“I wrote it in 30 minutes,” Herren said. "The animation obviously took a lot longer than the writing, especially since with animation, it is hard to revise scenes that didn't come out exactly how I wanted them.”

But behind every great artist lies a supportive environment that fosters growth and creativity. For Herren, the film department has been that nurturing ground where his passion for the arts and filmmaking was ignited. With state-of-the-art facilities and a team of experienced mentors, the school provided the perfect platform for him to explore his artistic abilities.

"My time at Oaks has been transformative,” said Herren, who is a student in the OCS Institute of Arts and Innovation. "The guidance and encouragement I received here have been instrumental in shaping me as not just an animator, but as an artist in general."

Herren was one of the first to sign up for the new animation class this year, taught by Joan Ko, a commercially successful animator and educator.

The Oaks Christian Institute of Arts and Innovation goes beyond traditional teaching methods, encouraging students to think outside the box and push the boundaries of their creativity. From learning the nuances of animation techniques to delving into the depths of storytelling, every aspect of the program is designed to groom students into well-rounded artists.

Herren is not just an animator, but a multi-talented artist that has acted on stage in Oaks Christian performing arts productions, and is a singer who has performed solos at multiple Spring Spectacular events.

"I am immensely grateful to Oaks for believing in my vision and providing me with the tools and guidance to bring it to life,” Herren said. “This is just the beginning of my journey, and I can't wait to see where it takes me next.”

His work serves as an inspiration to aspiring OCS student animators, proving that with passion, perseverance, and the right support, anything is possible in the realm of animation. While he doesn’t quite know where that next step will be after high school, he knows that it will be in the sphere of arts.

“I have really found what I am passionate about,” Herren said. “I will spend hours and hours working on my craft, whether that be animation, acting or singing, and I don’t feel burnt out, because I know that it’s what I want to do.”