top of page
AN INTERVIEW WITH Jesse Carpio, DIRECTOR
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
My name is Jesse Carpio. I am an aspiring Filipino-American animator based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I recently graduated from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco and received a BFA in Animation.
Why did you became a filmmaker as director ?
In the animation program at CCA, each senior student has to create a senior thesis film, which takes two semesters to complete.
By the nature of the program, each animation student becomes a director in their senior year. For my senior thesis film,
I had a concept and theme that I wanted to explore and express through a short film. As a first-time director, I saw filmmaking as an opportunity
to push and test my knowledge of cinema and animation.
Give some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far, about your experience?
Prior to making my senior thesis film, Lupad, I made two very rough short films in my junior year.
The first film was called Bantay, and the second film is called, You’re a Witch. It was my first time dabbling in filmmaking,
and I learned a lot about myself as a filmmaker from that experience. I made unrealistic high expectations for myself with Bantay and
You’re a Witch such as striving for high-quality animation but both films were a minute each. That would require me to draw thousands of drawings in one semester. This is why I learned not to have a perfectionist mindset and accept the mistakes that come with the process of filmmaking.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
There are so many films that inspired me as a filmmaker. If I had to pick a few, it would be the Pixar short films, Bao and Float,
and the animated short film, Dear Basketball by Kobe Byrant and Glen Keane. Those three films were pivotal in my decision
to pursue a career in animation instead of nursing. When I saw Bao and Float, I saw myself and realized that I wanted to contribute
to the narrative experience of Asian Americans and children of Asian immigrant families. Dear Basketball inspired me to make 2D animated films
because there is subliminal beauty and magic in films made with paper, pencil, and the human hand.
You have made your animated film which got official selection in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
As a filmmaker, why did you decided to make it?
I made Lupad because I had two questions that explored my cultural identity of being Asian American.
The first question I wanted to answer was, “What does it mean to be Filipino American?” I felt I was never enough for both sides.
On one hand, I was not Filipino enough because I was not taught the Bisayan or Tagalog language, or I was born in the United States and
not the Philippines. On the other hand, I am not considered American enough because of the color of my skin or the way I look.
I found the answer of my first question by finding solace in the aswangs from Filipino folklore.
The aswang are mainly depicted as female vampires who ate the fetuses from unsuspecting pregnant women with their long tongues.
The type of aswang I chose for my film was the Manananggal, which are winged half-body vampires that leave their lower half in search of prey.
The aswang is portrayed as different from society and an outsider.
To me, I saw that aspect with myself and that I could relate to. The second question was, “How do I rid this feeling of cultural “emptiness”?”
My answer was lolos and lolas (Filipino term for grandparents) because they are from an era long gone and they bridged that gap of cultural
"emptiness.” However, my biological lolos and lolas died before I was born or they lived in the Philippines far apart from where
I lived in the United States. So, my found lolos and lolas were my elderly relatives, great uncles and great aunts that taught me so much
about my culture. The film is my personal thank-you to them.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this animation film?
Some of the challenges I faced in making Lupad was being in a team of mainly one person. I realized when making a film all by myself
that I had to be in every role of the pipeline. So I was a director, producer, production manager, storyboard artist, background artist,
character designer, animator, etc. At that point, I only specialized in character animation, and in everything else, I was either average or sub-par.
So the film forced me to get out of my comfort zone and explore and practice different roles in the pipeline.
Let us more about your experience in this film?
My experience in making Lupad was very challenging but very rewarding in the end. There was a lot of trial and error because
there were aspects of the film that needed more clarity like story elements such as conflict or design elements like character designs.
Once those story and design notes were addressed then the film became clearer and streamlined. The animation process never gets any easier
but seeing the characters come alive was my favorite part of making the film. The experience of seeing the film slowly coming together,
in the end, is always a satisfying feeling.
What was it like to work with your team?
Even though I worked on my film by myself, my professor and classmates were always involved in the filmmaking process.
Animation is all about collaboration. Each week, we would have dailies and everyone would present their work in progress and
the class would give their notes on what they liked about the film's progress and what to improve. I am always thankful for my professor
and classmates because they gave me the needed constructive criticism to make my film the best version it can be.
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?
The biggest lesson I learned is that planning is everything. Having a solid production schedule prevents a lot of heartache
and tears when making the film. When something unexpected does happen, making adjustments to the production schedule
is not a problem because you planned instead on the fly.
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
Personally, watching films at the theater, on Youtube, or at film festivals helps me stay motivated in making films. It is inspiring to see films with different styles and perspectives. Also, I truly believe that filmmaking is an excellent way to develop and improve your art.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do to distribute this film?
Although submitting my film to film festivals is a new experience for me, I believe it is the best way forward to market my film.
What are your filmmaking goals?
My filmmaking goals are trying to create a film that evokes an emotional response and staying true to my values as an artist.
What is your next project?
My next project is either polishing my previous short films or making a short film about my parent’s childhood.
GOOD LUCK Jesse
bottom of page