Is This Circle For You?

Is this Circle right for you?  If so, make sure you meet the criteria that the mentor has defined.  Then, complete your mentorship profile if you have not already done so, and return to our Mentor Circles Application page, make your selection and click 'apply'.

Need more info before you make your choice?  Use the dropdown below to view other circles in order to help inform your decision.

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Short Film Support Group - with Michael Arias

The short film is a slippery beast: Your story is simple, but you want to break new artistic ground… It’s impossible to square your ambitions with a micro-budget… D.I.Y. was great—until it wasn’t… There’s nothing like a formula to follow… Sound familiar? Then perhaps this circle is for you!

I’ve worked on short films of all kinds: original, advertising, music video, feature pilot, theme park attraction, live action, hand-drawn, stop-motion, commercial, and experimental. Shorts made me the filmmaker I am, so I want this circle to support your short film, and help you find your creative voice. Filmmaking is most often a collaborative enterprise and, even if you’re a lone wolf, working within a community of trusted comrades will allow you to take more creative risks and get the most out of your journey as a filmmaker. It is my hope that this circle can be a step towards creating your very own filmmaking community.

This circle is not the place to come for creative advice if you don’t yet know what you want to make. We’ll start by assuming you already have a (great) idea, and work together on articulating and executing your vision!

Note: Though the circle will meet with me twice per month, I will expect you to also meet without me on off weeks, twice per month, to further discuss and support each other’s projects.

Over the course of the circle, we will be joined by a few guest experts.

Mentee Criteria

Experience Level:

Student (final year)

0-1 Year

Meeting Times & Dates

Please note: Meeting times and dates are subject to change by your Circle Mentor

Times Per Month:  Once

Dates:  Mondays

Meeting Times:   5p PST

Circle Leader

Michael Arias

Filmmaker Michael Arias enjoys a colorful and varied career, spanning the worlds of live-action storytelling, visual effects, computer graphics, and anime, the unique realm of Japanese traditional animation.

After a childhood spent making his own Super-8 epics, Arias got his professional start on the motion- control miniature stages of Dream Quest Images, on such effects-heavy films as THE ABYSS and TOTAL RECALL. He then went on to work with VFX godfather Douglas Trumbull, animating ride vehicle motion for BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE RIDE, an immersive entertainment milestone.

Then, in 1991, Arias moved to Tokyo, where he did stints at postproduction behemoth Imagica and game giant Sega, before relocating to New York City and co-founding effects boutique Syzygy Digital Cinema, where he created CG sequences for the likes of David Cronenberg, the Coen Brothers, and Spike Lee.

In 1995 Arias was scouted by animation software innovator Softimage, for whom he developed and patented the world’s first “Toon Shaders,” for integrating computer graphics imagery with traditional hand-drawn animation. Michael then worked closely with Studio Ghibli to add a distinct visual flavor to Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces THE PRINCESS MONONOKE and SPIRITED AWAY, and similarly with Dreamworks Animation, on their films THE PRINCE OF EGYPT and SPIRIT.

In 2000 Arias accepted an invitation from the Wachowskis and producer Joel Silver to produce the MATRIX-inspired anthology THE ANIMATRIX, which subsequently broke home-video sales records and won numerous awards.

Following up on the success of THE ANIMATRIX, Arias made his feature directing debut in 2006 with the visually daring TEKKONKINKREET, based on yet another manga by SUNNY’s author Taiyou Matsumoto. TEKKONKINKREET competed at the Berlinale, won Japan’s prestigious Academy prize for Best Animated Feature Film, and appears on numerous animation “best of” lists.

In 2009, Arias directed HEAVEN’S DOOR, his first live-action feature, and in the years hence has continued to split his time between animation and live-action. In 2015 he returned to anime with the dark sci-fi thriller HARMONY, after which he developed and directed his first TV series, the offbeat sci-fi comedy TOKYO ALIEN BROS., for Nippon TV.

Arias is an active member of the Visual Effects Society, and has also co-authored papers for and served as guest editor, presenter, panelist, and juror, for ACM/SIGGRAPH. He is the official English translator of manga works by Taiyou Matsumoto and a frequent writer and commentator on Japanese culture, film, animation, and manga.

Title/Expertise:  Filmmaker, Director

Location:  Tokyo, Japan

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