Los Angeles-based stop-motion animation studio Open The Portal is gearing up to premiere its first original short film project, Jeom, as an official selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The four-minute piece is directed by Korean filmmaker Kangmin Kim, one of the studio’s closest collaborators and an in-house director.
“Having our first in-house film featured at the festival is a surreal dream come true. Five years ago, we took a freezing bus ride to Park City and slept on friends hotel floors just to get into a few screenings!” says OTP partner Micah Cordy. “We live in an incredible time for animation… Thanks to the internet, people are rediscovering past hidden treasures while influencing a new generation of animators to produce inspired work. In that vein, Jeom is a strange and wonderful story. We are so proud to be representing the new generation of stop motion at Sundance.”
In Korean, “jeom” roughly translates as “birthmark” or “block dot.” As the director explains: “Like my father, I was born with a big birthmark on my butt, which I was very self conscious of. My mother told me that when I got older it would disappear, but it never did.”
The film recounts the birth of Kim’s first child and centers around the jeom creating a special link between father and son. The film starts with an oddly humorous reveal of both birthmarks. Believing the two jeom are connected, the son furiously attempts to scrub off his father’s blemish, with no success. The son then has a baby of his own, and it’s revealed to the audience if or how the mark is passed to the next generation.
Jeom is produced using a stop-motion technique Kim perfected while studying Experimental Animation at CalArts, according to Cordy: “Kim is a master stop-motion animator. Almost everything you see on screen is made out of simple construction paper. This animation method is Kim’s specialty and has been his preferred medium for the last few years.”
OTP founding partner Barrett Slagle, who runs the in-house audio studio to produce music and sound design, worked closely with Kim throughout the filmmaking process to ensure the visuals and sound functioned as a cohesive whole.
Jeom is scheduled to screen as part of the festival’s Animation Spotlight Shorts Program. It is a sequel to Kim’s previous films 38-39’C (2012) and Deer Flower (2015), which also premiered at Sundance.
Open The Portal has over the last several developed its stop-mo studio infrastructure through commercial production and collaboration with artists and clients like entertainment giant Disney and pop icon Katy Perry. Learn more at www.opentheportal.com.