By Robert S. Pearson
Andrew Keeton will be the first of two film students to graduate from the Art Institute of Tampa's Digital film program on December 17 2009. When I decided to start profiling our film students monthly, I thought who better than Andrew? He consistently inspires his peers with his intellect, superior work, and willingness to share his knowledge. While speaking with Andrew I learned that he once studied Fine Art, and didn't begin his career at the Art Institute studying film, but instead graphic design. The film program had not yet been instituted when graphic design was his discipline, but when it was announced that the AI Tampa would be offering a digital film degree, Andrew made the jump. I asked him, why film?
Film is an art form that has a unique ability to decide what the audience sees and hears. It is a more psychologically powerful medium because a filmmaker can control more facets of the audience’s perception. So if art is _expression and communication, than film is the medium best suited to communicate my perception and imagination as completely as possible.
Andrew's profound appreciation for the mediums ability to connect with it's audience inspired the question, what filmmakers have connected most with you?
Terry Gilliam, The Coen Brothers, Stanley Kubric, Christopher Nolan, and Akira Kurosawa
I was curious what kind of a role Andrew's family and friends played in influencing his work, and if there were any non-filmmakers that influenced him as well.
My family influenced me toward open-minded critical thinking, appreciation of art and creativity. I think those values laid the foundation for my own personal explorations. I count Joseph Campbell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Alan Moore as personal heroes, both for their storytelling abilities and for the humanistic philosophies they represent.
As someone who clearly has a refined taste for the art of storytelling, I inquired as to which films Andrew considered his personal favorites.
2001: A Space Odyssey, Natural Born Killers, and Apocalypse Now
Many times when I watch another students work I see reflections of my own process, and in Andrew case there is one attribute that always stands out. He does not see objects as they are, but what they could be instead. At the bottom of the article there is a collection of stills from Andrew's work, and when I look at his candy dispenser I do not see something, that on paper, might be associated with innocence. The gum ball machine seems to be floating just out of reach, taunting the viewer. As a story teller Andrew has seemingly mastered the art of creating something interesting form objects that typically dwell with the mundane. As a student I have much respect for Andrew, so I asked Dr. John Muehl, a professor of ours, his thoughts to acquire an opinion from a different perspective.
Dr. John Muehl:
Andrew has a unique ability to always be at least a couple of weeks ahead of deadline. He uses this time for tweaking and perfection. I am also impressed with Andrew's breadth of knowledge about any subject and current events. These qualities will serve Andrew well as a filmmaker and a teacher in the very near future.
Now that Andrew is set to graduating I asked him what his plans for the future are.
I plan to make independent films and teach at a college level. I plan to stay in school until the end of time if can manage it. I want to die with a stack of degrees.
To Dani for giving me a reason, to Ace for giving me a challenge, and to my family for giving me unconditional love and support.
I would like to thank Andrew for stepping into the spotlight, and be sure to check out his personal web site at the address below to see his films, resume, and portfolio.
Check back in December for another Filmmaker Spotlight!