Filmmaker honored for his serious cartoon world

June 7, 2011
By Chris Saunders

Filmmaker Jason Carpenter ’97 was honored in May by the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ 38th Annual Student Academy Awards.

Carpenter’s animated short, The Renter, was named one of nine finalists in the animation category of the awards, which will be held June 11. As seen in the film’s trailer, a young boy is cared for by an elderly woman. While taking care of children at her daycare, she also rents a room out to a mysterious man. The film focuses on the disconcerting world the boy sees in his surroundings.

Still from The Renter. Courtesy of Jason Carpenter.

Still from The Renter. Courtesy of Jason Carpenter.

The film, Carpenter says, was based on his own childhood experiences, when he was cared for by Mommy Eldridge, an elderly Greensboro woman. And it serves as a testament to the power of the animation genre.

“Animation can do a lot more than tell silly stories and funny jokes,” says Carpenter, who adds that his love for animation was cultivated at NC State’s College of Design. “Animation is a really deep art form. I think in other countries, like in Europe, it’s a little easier to find animation that’s not slapstick. Animation can do anything.”

The Renter has been nominated for other major awards, including the Annie Awards, the industry’s highest honor. And it keeps Carpenter busy on the festival circuit, which has taken him to Toronto, Germany and the Czech Republic.

He hopes for that success will lead to more films and maybe a career in teaching. But right now, he’s enjoying the absurdity of his fame and busy life.

“Today I mailed something to Serbia,” he says laughing.

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