WMU graduate designs trailer for Waterfront Film Festival

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Still from the film trailer featuring the squid diver character.

The squid diver character from the trailer

KALAMAZOO—A recent graduate of the Western Michigan University graphic design program has created a trailer for the 15th annual Waterfront Film Festival that will be shown before each film screened at this weekend's festival, held in South Haven, Mich.

Christopher Kurtz, who graduated in April, was tabbed to create the 34-second spot after professors in the program recommended him. Kurtz worked closely on the project with Yuanliang (Leon) Sun, WMU assistant professor of art. Watch the trailer here.

Kurtz says he had a lot of fun putting the colorful animated trailer together.

"The idea for the animation all came from the poster they had already created for the festival," says Kurtz, a Kalamazoo native and Kalamazoo Central High School graduate. "It had a lot of elements and I just took those and ran with it."

About the trailer

Kurtz adapted a duck guy and a squid diver character from the poster while creating other characters. As the sun rises, clouds drift by and seagulls fly overhead, the cartoon crew sails to the South Haven shore in a large wooden ship, disembarking on the beach. With the words, "Start 'em up, Duck Man," a projector telescopes from the squid diver's helmet to start the festival.

Kurtz also created a soundtrack from music samples, with the music flowing from reggae, to funk to bluegrass. The video continues through a request to silence cell phones and a list of sponsors before ending with the festival Web address. Kurtz spent about three weeks on the project.

Kurtz says he enjoys the multimedia aspect of graphic design.

"I just like how you're able to integrate all the different aspects of art—photography, illustration, painting—and combine them together and create cool designs," he says.

Kurtz' future plans are both straightforward and open-ended: "To just basically go find a job and, wherever anybody will take me, I'll go."

The festival opened Thursday and runs through Sunday, June 16. For more information, visit waterfrontfilm.org.