Montserrat alumna Emma Ingalls recently tied for third in a competition run by Be Still Media!

September 23, 2020

“I had this idea of interviewing my grandparents. I deeply respect and love them and want in some way to immortalize them. So I bought a microphone and asked them to tell me the story of how they met.”

Emma’s now-prize-winning piece—a 4-minute animation entitled “First Date”—was also her senior thesis. She’d been working on it for over a year by the time she submitted it to Be Still Media’s competition.

Be Still Media was started earlier this year, during the height of the coronavirus lockdowns in the United States. They hope to promote “competitions that draw on ideas of character and the meaning of life.” Emma originally found out about them through a Facebook group she is a part of, the Asian Creative Network. The prompt for the competition at that time was “You’re only as wise as the relationships you have.”

It immediately brought to mind Emma’s grandparents, who’ve always had a huge, important part of her life. Per Emma’s introduction to the video:

“They put aside their own financial needs, after raising three kids of their own, to help raise my little brother and I. They worked hard to make sure our lives had some ounce of consistency. To make sure we were comfortable. Fed, clothed. To make sure we had fun. And I am forever grateful.  When I went off into the world, I always knew that I wanted to give back to them in some way. That I loved them, and I wanted them to be remembered and appreciated with the same love that I have for them. So, the Christmas after they moved out of the home that housed two generations of my family, I decided to do a short series of interviews with them, one of which being the way they first met.”

When making the video, Emma deviated from her usual style of cartoon:

“I’d been drawing different cartoon styles for a while but I wanted something unique for this project. I really wanted how friendly my grandparents are to come across in the design. What I ended up look at was PBS kids—that sort of style.”

The importance of close relationships extended beyond only the content of the project. Emma reached out to friends and peers to help make the piece.

“It’s nice to think ‘I can do this all by myself’—but you have to look at something and think, okay, there’s someone who can do this better than I can and make it real.”

Emma commissioned fellow Montserrat alums Mariana Martins, Annie-Lee Daly, and Chris Giglio to help her with the project. Mariana made the background art, Annie composed the music, and Chris contributed to the sound design. When she needed a title card, she asked Rebecca Jones (who she knew had excellent handwriting) to write out the title.

Emma has stayed busy since graduating. She’s been working remotely, doing freelance commission work as well as working for the Gloucester Writers’ Center as a video editor.

Recently she was commissioned to illustrate the book Gladstone: Down Under by Matthew Knopp, which documents the occasion where Knopp’s dog Gladstone decided to fight a kangaroo.

When asked if she’d like to mention anything else, Emma extended a thank you to everyone who “persisted, even when we had to go remote in the middle of a semester.” She offered an especially hearty thanks to faculty Mark Hoffman and Blyth Hazen.

To see Emma’s video and the other Be Still Media Winners, visit: https://bestillmedia.org/showcase