TNC Interview 2020
Keika Lee

Writer / Director

ODD DOG

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Odd Dog shares a story about a young boy who develops an unanticipated friendship with a dog-like cat. 

Hi Keika thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during the lockdown? 

Hello TNC! Thank you for the interview. I'm doing well, all things considered. I have my health, am busy working on a new film and taking care of my son so I can't complain.

Is this time offering you creative inspiration? 

It hasn't been any differently for me as I have been working from home for the past 3 years anyway, but it has been stressful knowing the world is in a lot of pain and anxiety. This has led to inspiring me to make my films for those to find escape from their current realities.

Your award-winning animation ODD DOG is going to be screened next at the Giffoni Film Festival, do you still get nervous ahead of a festival screening? 

I do because it's a whole new audience and I don't know if they will react the same as the audiences at the other festivals. I hope they enjoy it as much as others have!

What has it meant to you to win the Children's Choice For Shorts All Ages Award at the Bay Area International Children's Film Festival 2020? 

It meant a great deal to me because I had made the film for children and wanted to make them happy with what I created. Besides the award, the best feeling was when I went to one of the screenings and listened to the audience react to the film. When they laughed and sighed at the right moments, that was more satisfying than the award.

Can you tell me a little bit about ODD DOG, how did your film come about? 

The film is based on my son and our cat. Ever since my son was born, our cat and him have been inseparable and they have been the best of friends. After I left my corporate job a few years ago, I started drawing two characters, a boy and a dog-like cat and I thought, "I want to make a film about these two characters." Then I started to reach out to some artist colleagues I had worked with in the past and "Odd Dog" was born.

"You can do it. As long as you have the idea and plan, go for it."

What was the inspiration behind this film? 

The deeper theme behind the film is about acceptance for who you are and that's why I wanted to make the film. Growing up I was always the "oddball" at school and it was hard for me to make friends. I created Cat as being "odd" but in reality he just needed to meet the right person to accept him for who he is.

What do you think it is about ODD DOG that has connected with audiences so much? 

I believe the film not only connects with cat lovers and dog lovers all over the world, but it also touches the hearts of those who are looking for acceptance for who they are despite their "oddness". 

As well as serving as director you also produced and wrote ODD DOG, did you have any apprehensions about taking on so many roles on this project? 

Actually I had a lot of fun wearing many hats on this project. It was a lot easier in the sense that I could make decisions as the writer, director and producer instead of having three different people to decide on one issue. Since it was a short film and small team, it wasn't as daunting of a task as running a feature. 

You have an amazing team that has brought ODD DOG to life, what was your experience like working with them? 

Simply AMAZING. When you have a group of talented, hard working and enthusiastic individuals together with great chemistry you end up making something great. No question. I was very fortunate in having all these things and would do it again in a heartbeat with the same people.

On a project like this how vital is the collaborative nature of filmmaking? 

Extremely vital. We were a remote team and had to put extra effort into communicating with each other. If we didn't get along or communicate well, this film would not have gotten done.

What were the biggest challenges you faced making ODD DOG? 

Cutting scope. The film was originally 10 minutes long but due to budget and time constraints I had to cut the film by half and rewrite the story. It was tough because I had to cut a couple of fun characters but in the end I think it was best for the film and for the crew.

Where did your passion for animation come from? 

I'd say it has always been in my blood. My grandfather had dreamed of being an animator, my father had dreamed of being an animator and I dreamed of being an animator when I saw my first Disney film at the age of 7. Animation was my escape from my tough upbringing being an immigrant from South Korea to the U.S. Ever since then, I decided I wanted to make films for other children to find their happy place and inspire them to spread joy and love.

"It was a lot easier in the sense that I could make decisions as the writer, director and producer instead of having three different people to decide on one issue."

How much has your style and approach to your films changed since you started out? 

I was very much into the Japanese anime and Disney style of animation in college and through the years and have stuck with it, so I would say I haven't really changed much since I started out.

Do you have any advice or tips to offer any emerging filmmaker? 

You can do it. As long as you have the idea and plan, go for it. The attitude of thinking that things will happen got me through every step. Just keep going.

What are you currently working on? 

I am currently working on my next film called "Oren's Way" which is about a princess who develops a bizarre scheme to save her kingdom and, on her journey, discovers there is more to ruling a kingdom than just being clever.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from ODD DOG? 

I hope it makes you laugh and smile especially during this difficult time in our world. Thank you for watching!

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