Alumnus Animator David Wolter Takes Gold Medal at 39th Student Academy Awards

Last month, the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the winners of the 39th Student Academy Awards. Among them was CalArts alumnus David Wolter (Film/Video 11) for his film, Eyrie. The awards ceremony was held in Beverly Hills last Saturday, where Wolter was awarded the top prize in the animation category.

Wolter, who works as a storyboard artist on feature films at DreamWorks Animation, received a Gold Medal and cash prize of $5,000. His film will join four other gold-medal films to be screened June 24 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and June 27 at the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Much of Wolter’s work centers around “mankind’s symbolic appropriation of animal identity.” Eyrie, Wolter’s second-year short made while attending the Character Animation Program at CalArtsis a coming-of-age film “featuring a shepherd who must learn to care for his flock and defend it against a predatory eagle.” More about the short from SCV News:

In [his] blog, [Wolter] explores the question of whether Eyrie is a Western; the story could be told in any number of ways and could be set virtually anywhere. Eyrie has no guns or whiskey or bad guys in the traditional sense, but it takes place in a setting resembling Monument Valley, and a Navajo rug is a central element.

“I made this film to explore three ideas,” Wolter writes. “First: ‘place-ness’ and the ways in which specificity of location can enrich a film.  Second: film as ritual; that a cinematic experience could translate into mythic experience, specifically a coming of age ritual.  Third: the boundary between human and animal and the ways in which it is crossed. It was in the American West that I found the locus for all three ideas.”

Below is Wolter’s winning film, Eyrie.

Watch Kallie Kerns of Red Carpet Report interview Wolter prior to Saturday’s ceremony.

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