By Greta Chiocchetti
With most of us spending more time at home than ever, it’s likely that our streaming services have been getting plenty of use. If you’re burning through your watchlist faster than expected, you’re in luck: Academy of Art University’s new streaming platform, Academy Flix, debuted late last month, and it hosts a collection of films created by students, alumni, and faculty that are sure to entertain.
“We didn’t have a platform for all of these incredible films that students and faculty make—they’re scattered all over the internet, you know, on Vimeo, YouTube,” said Nicolas Villarreal, director of the School of Visual Development and 2-D animation. “I thought it would be great to have a place like Hulu or Netflix for all this great work, but proprietary to the Academy.”
The site, which went live on July 20, has been in the works since last fall and currently has six categories: 3-D Animation & VFX, Animation & VFX, Events, Fashion Shows, Stop Motion Animation, and Traditional Animation. While most of the films available now are previous Spring Show winners and runners up as well as standout work submitted by instructors, the site’s developers plan to make it even more inclusive as it continues to grow. Along with including material from across the Academy’s departments, its creators hope to include resources for prospective students, like virtual tours and Academy events.
“Academy Flix is a showcase of the best work the Academy has to offer in any department. Ultimately, it will become like a video universe of everything at the Academy. Right now, it’s starting off small as on a WordPress site, but ultimately it will be thousands of videos, with many, many categories—just a huge amount of stuff to consume,” said Charlie Jackman, web operations manager for the Academy. “And we hope that not only does it thrill the students, but it continues to help them find work and continues to help the Academy find students.”
Once the web team is able to automate the submission process, the platform could explode with tons of news content from all corners of the university.
“This is just version one. It’s like we’re planting a seed, and it could grow into a huge tree,” said John Cho, the designer behind Academy Flix. “I’m really excited about what the future can hold.”
Even though the site is still in its infancy, there is an abundance of high-quality, compelling work to see—for a few of our can’t-miss flicks, check out the streaming guide below.
Alumnus Carlos Baena’s award-winning animated horror short, “La Noria,” is a spooky but visually stunning piece that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The film follows a young boy as he is terrorized by an evil presence, highlighted by a haunting lullaby-esque score and dark color scheme.
Alumna Alyce Tzue’s “Soar” began as a thesis project and grew into a breathtaking—and heartwarming—short film that went on to win Gold at the Student Academy Awards in 2015. “Soar” tells the story of a young girl who must help a tiny pilot repair his aircraft and get back home, exemplifying the idiom, “The sky’s the limit.”
In alumnus Dan Lund’s hilarious short, viewers meet Aria, an audacious cow who wants to be appreciated for more than just her milk. Fed up with being taken for granted, Aria appeals to the farmhand’s humanity with a vocal performance fit for a diva.
The 2013 stop motion short, created by Anuardi Cantre, Caryl Foote, Madow Tsai, Annie Wong, and Michael V. Flores as a part of Norm DeCarlo’s stop motion class, follows a face-off between a fierce dragon and a brave knight—with a whimsical twist at the end.
Alum Toshihiro Nakamura’s adorable tale of two unlikely friends is guaranteed to make you smile. With vibrant, colorful scenery and lighthearted sound design, this children’s short is worth a watch.
Bryant Wilson’s 2011 graduate thesis film still delights almost a full decade after its creation. In it, we meet Buck Flurry, “the very model of your basic cable weatherman,” who takes us on a musical journey through the ins and outs of the job—which is sure to get stuck in your head.
Nathania Zaini’s stop motion short follows the mythical Sandman as he encounters an insomniac who poses a challenge to his nightly rounds. The short, which has been featured in and recognized by more than 20 film festivals, is a clever twist on the classic tale.