Honorable Mention – “Tethered” (USA)

Title: Tethered
Runtime: 2 min
Country: USA 
Director: Gaia Alari
Placement: Honorable Mention
Competition: June, 2021

Synopsis: Gaia Alari (Director, Animator) and James Morehead (Poet Laureate – Dublin, California) team up to bring the poem “tethered” to life with the magic of traditional animation. The poem is a selection from Morehead’s debut book “canvas” (Viewless Wings Press, 2021). “tethered” features 2D animation created from 750 drawings. The animation was created for the 9:16 story format.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Tethered – James Morehead – Producer / Writer / Narrator

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

JM: The poem the film was based on, “tethered”, was inspired during a walk along the Pacific coastline, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw a bell buoy out in the distance and thought what it would be like, to be tethered, year after year, season after season. I paused an wrote down “tethered” and a few thoughts. “tethered” was first published in my book “canvas”.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

JM: Months after writing “tethered” I connected with director / animator Gaia Alari and I shared my interest in created an animated film. We agreed that “tethered” would work well as an animated film and we started talking about how to approach the film – Gaia in Italy, me in California. From our initial discussion to releasing the film took about three months.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

JM: Achieving the pacing that works best for the material – the original cut of the film was shorter. The editor (my brother, Ian Morehead) correctly observed that the reading of the poem was too rushed. He had me re-record the audio and working with Gaia’s animation he seamlessly re-edited the film with the new audio. I also recorded sound of the Pacific ocean, recorded at the very spot where I was inspired to write the poem.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

JM: Finding an animator to work with! This is my first film production and it was through social networks that I stumbled on Gaia’s work, reached out (not even knowing she was in Italy), and when we connected it turned out she was looking for an opportunity to create an animated short film from poetry. Her hand drawn traditional animation was perfect for the poem. 750 drawings later we had a film!

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

JM: Don’t worry about knowing nothing going into the process – just go for it! I’m an experience poet but a first time producer of an animated short. Gaia Alari, fortunately, compensated for the experience i lacked, and I was fortunate to have an experience film editor in my brother.