African American Express is an abstract animation exploring the impact of consumerism in the Black community. Told in the style of Soviet Propaganda, this animated short dissects the pattern of excessive materialism and consumption prevalent within the Black population. 
My short film African American Express will be told in the style of Soviet Propaganda. Some of my favorite short films are animated Soviet propaganda films. I grew up watching these films from a young age. Soviet animations focus on socio-political phenomena. Throughout the film there will be some recognizable aspects with others being abstract, all taking inspiration from Soviet classics such as “Shooting Range” and “Mister Twister” (1963). I would like for the visuals to be extremely simplistic, with little to no backgrounds. In terms of the sound. For the audio, it will have a smooth, and peppy repetitive song, with ambient noise, such as sounds of chatter, cars passing by, footsteps. I will also be experimenting with dropping the audio component at some points to emphasize the background noise.
Director Statement (Short)
African American Express is an abstract animation critiquing Black consumerism, drawing from Robert E. Weems' book to illuminate complex dynamics. Inspired by Soviet propaganda, it dissects excessive materialism and consumption among Black individuals through striking visuals
Director Statement (Long)
African American Express serves as an evocative abstract animation delving into the intricate theme of materiality within Black consumerism, critiquing the implications of consumer culture within the Black community. Drawing inspiration from the rich narrative of the 1998 novel "Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century" by Robert E. Weems, the short film weaves together insightful quotes to illuminate the complex dynamics at play. 
Inspired by the bold aesthetics of Soviet Propaganda, this short film artfully dissects the pervasive culture of excessive materialism and consumption among Black individuals. Through striking visual metaphors and poignant symbolism, it unravels the intricate patterns and societal implications, inviting viewers to contemplate the complex interplay between identity, capitalism, and cultural heritage

African American Express title frame

For my film project, I made a deliberate decision to include a vibrantly crafted color palette. Opting for primary colors, I introduced a subtle yet impactful twist by infusing a soft yellow tint. Achieving this effect demanded a meticulous approach: I used a solid yellow background layer and delicately adjusted its opacity to a precise 17%.
This careful selection of colors wasn't arbitrary; rather, it was a strategic move to elevate the visual richness of the film, particularly as I aimed to imbue it with the evocative essence of Soviet propaganda aesthetics.
My intention was clear: I sought to ensnare the audience's gaze with a vibrant palette, ensuring that the animation would be nothing short of visually arresting. As I delved into the intricacies of color psychology, I realized the profound impact hues can wield, capable of stirring specific emotions and fostering distinct moods. By wielding these rich colors with purpose, my ultimate goal is to deepen the emotional resonance of the animation as a whole.
I chose rich colors to serve as guiding beacons within each scene, directing the viewer's focus with precision. In doing so, I aimed to mirror the vintage charm of Soviet propaganda posters, infusing my film with a nostalgic aura.
The origin of my animation project developed after being sparked by Kanye West's lyrics in "Last Call." Upon hearing the line "Oh my god, is that a black card? Why yes. But I prefer the term African American Express"  I found myself inspired! Instantly struck by the cleverness of this verse, I knew it encapsulated the essence of what I wanted to convey in my animation: the intricacies of consumerism within the Black community.
I recognized early on that translating ideas into visual narratives, such as: Storyboards, and animatics, are extremely challenging for me. Alternatively, I focused on immersing myself into intensive research and the creation of concept art. This strategic approach allowed me to distill complex themes into tangible visuals.
Since working with storyboards are challenging for me, I figured the best way to get started on my animation is to just dive in. Having the assignment of completing a 5 second test, was a great start as I was able to just work straight ahead based on the concept art images I had created. Additionally, because of my workflow, I was able to achieve nearly finalized animation sequences.
5 Second Test
During the month of December, I focused on the audio component of my film. Up until this point, I had used my own voice as a temp placement for the dialogue. I was fortunate to have worked with 4 local creatives to achieve the completed dialogue for my film.

Pictures from the recording session which was held at the Community Digital Arts Hub (CDAH)

Pictures from the recording session which was held at the Community Digital Arts Hub (CDAH)

My primary focus was on refining specific sequences, notably the introspective charcoal sequence and the atmospheric corridor sequence.
Ending Sequence
I dedicated considerable effort to finalizing the blocking for the concluding sequence. Until then, the ending remained fluid, lacking firm resolution. This phase was pivotal, as I envisaged music playing a central role in shaping the climax of my film. Therefore, it was imperative to meticulously craft the concluding sequence, ensuring its completion so that I could convey it to the composer with confidence.
My project's post-production phase was fairly simple as the editing was essentially done during the production phase. All that was left was compositing. I added the yellow tinted filter, and made additional arrangements to the sound effects.
Production Schedule 
A link to the full production schedule for African American Express can be found here:

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