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Brooke Keesling

Brooke Keesling is an award-winning filmmaker, animator, educator and overall lover of life. She has worked in visual effects for nearly a decade and is currently the Director of Development at New Deal Studios, a full-service visual effects commercial and film production studio, best known for their work on feature films such as The Dark Knight, The Aviator, Iron Man, I Am Legend, The Departed, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland, and Shutter Island.

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  1. Lisa Chung
    October 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Brooke was absolutely a delight to listen to this week. Not only was she informative, full of valuable advice, she was also really down to earth. She was someone I could see myself having lunch with. This speaks of her very humble and energetic nature. It is no wonder her boss trust her to wear so many hats at work. With that said, I had no idea that miniature effects existed. All the projects New Deal Studio have worked on, I thought it was just computer generated with digital effects. The environment, models and props that are generated were all amazingly crafted and super accurate. The funny thing is, the miniature sets are not so miniature. They are quite large (some towering at 10 feet) but smaller than the real thing. I know they are considering shooting their own live action films once they raise enough money, but I am curious if they would consider making a stop motion film since their talent is in model building and even puppet making. As for her student work at CalArts, I loved the simplicity, humor and personal message rooted in each one especially in Boobie Girl. I know for sure when I am working on my productions and thesis, choosing a story that really means something to me will be essential.

  2. Gregory Jones
    October 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve seen miniatures before, but I didn’t realize the types of projects they showed up in. Many of the scenes I always assumed for computer generated were actually done with miniatures and I think that’s fantastic. Besides learning that, I really appreciate Brooke’s insight into the festival process. Besides learning about festivals that I didn’t know existed, I learned a bit about how and why we should try to circulate our films. I’ll be taking her advice to heart for sure.

  3. Cecilia De Jesus
    October 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

    It was a great pleasure having Brooke Keesling present in this week’s class. It is certainly apparent that she is a real lover of life and her positive attitude is so contagious. I especially enjoyed seeing her student films and hearing how they developed and how far they brought her. I think she is the perfect example of how successful you can be in life if you keep a positive outlook and try things without fear of rejection or failure. I also really appreciated all the great advice she gave us. Like Lisa, the advice about choosing a story that has a personal meaning really stuck with me. I think it was also wise for her to say that it is important to acknowledge that an audience will view your work and to consider what type of audience you are aiming your work towards. Needless to say, the visual effects work she showed was really impressive, but for me the real pleasure was just hearing about her life and experiences.

  4. Louis Morton
    October 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Brooke’s advice was very valuable and I will remember the things she said for a long time. Especially the advice to put your work out there all the time. I sometimes feel unsure about doing this, but it seems true that if you put it out there, someone will be affected by it and things will happen. Her attitude is admirable and shows that if you think positively positive things are likely to happen. I really enjoyed the honesty and playfulness of her films. With Boobie Girl it was super inspiring to see how effective (both emotionally and in terms of animation) the film could be with such stylized character and background designs.
    I was also very excited to get such an extensive look into the world of miniatures. Like Greg and Lisa noted, I knew that miniatures were still used, but didn’t know to what extent. But when Brooke explained how physical things have a certain effect that CG cannot duplicate it made perfect sense. It’s very inspiring to see that things are still being made by hand to such a large extent!

  5. Linda Liao
    October 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Going over Brooke’s television and feature work was informative to the evolution of what my own future career would be like. Getting a glimpse of her school work exemplified how that could happen in an environment designated for children. It was obvious that most the philiosophy in the USA thas been cut short to that mentality and that adult animation has been channeled into special effects in a commercial sense.

  6. Amy Lee Ketchum
    October 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    It was really inspiring to hear Brooke talk about her personal projects in conjunction with her industry work. I admire the fact that she works on multiple levels: artistic, educational, curatorial, and professional. She showed us that success does not just come to people, but has to be achieved through both hard work, networking, and chance opportunities.

    Additionally, I was inspired by the fact that she did not come from an animation background, but her drive and creative freedom enabled her to win a Student Academy Award by the end of her time as a graduate student. I want to apply her tenacity and optimism to my own time as a student!

  7. Yang Liu
    October 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Brooke was surely an amazing animation artist while being a student. Her thesis has a very strong storytelling structure, while being very stylized and cute. I am amazed how she can also devote into visual effect so successfully with a 2D animation background. I believe a lot of her success in the industry should attribute to her inter-personal skill. I realize a lot of time she mentioned how talkative she was, and how she actually got appreciated by others because of that. It’s not surprising to see her standing on a very high position in the company. Also, I was inspired by her 10 suggestions for being an animation student. It was very encouraging that she said students should do whatever style they want while in college, because there are not many chances after graduation. I would love to keep it in mind and devote all my effort into my school project, to enjoy it.

  8. Rachel Jaffe
    October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Practically simmering with exuberant cheer, Brooke Keesling imbued her seminar presentation with all the blunt charm and near-saccharine sincerity that — by virtue of the stories she so joyfully told and films she crafted — suffuses not only her persona-as-filmmaker and facade-of-publicist, but the very fiber of her being. Despite the student Oscar statuette to her name, Keesling has undoubtedly retained the droll humility that so clearly defined her Cal Arts films — an unshakeable sense of self that, grounded in equal parts wry frankness and sly facetiousness, thoroughly pervades the wistful humor of Boobie Girl and the cringing giggles of Meat Clown. Remaining within the realm of the personal rather than straying onto the turf of activism, both films she opted to screen demonstrate the cheerful determination that has — well, so far, anyway — shaped the converging arc of Keesling’s professional and artistic careers.

  9. October 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Stereotypically speaking, I agree that Brooke is way too outgoing to be an animator. Her whole presentation felt like she was someone familiar just talking to us. Lisa has it spot-on: Brooke seems like someone you could have lunch with. Her list of tips was great. Some were things I’ve already thought of or heard, and it was reassuring to hear them from her. Most were new, and they just seem logical now that I’ve heard them.

    Sometimes I’ll hear older animators talk about how they got into the industry – one guy at SIGGRAPH talked about lying his way into a job with CG just because he thought it was cool, then learning the entire machine overnight. They make for funny stories, but that stuff doesn’t happen anymore now that the industry has matured – Brooke’s experience actually makes sense for us. It was nice to know that she set down Boobie Girl for a year or so before getting into festivals; I’ve been procrastinating with submitting my undergraduate capstone.

    Like many other people have said, it’s amazing to see all these things that are actually miniatures and not real or CG. I was raised with half of our basement being a workshop, and my grandpa always building things for us. I love working with my hands and building little things, though I’ve never considered it as a profession (and there are much better qualified people anyway). Seeing what they’ve done behind-the-scenes was just neat to me. As we’re starting to pick our classes for next semester, Brooke’s talk was a good reminder of why stop motion is so fun.

  10. Justin Connolly
    October 13, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Wow! Brooke’s presentation last week was a welcome breathe of fresh air. Her playful nature and her infectious optimism was extremely encouraging and inspirational. As several mother people have mentioned, it is no wonder that Brooke has become a key player over at New Deal and that she has essentially been able to write her own ticket since she graduated from Calarts. I think she is a prime example of the importance of having strong interpersonal skills as well as maintaining an overall positive mental attitude. In addition to having the technical skills for a job in animation, it is key to also be someone whom others want to work with, which is a topic not commonly discussed in the academic setting.

    Furthermore, Brooke’s overall lust for life has taken her to some amazing places thus far in her young career and she is a great role model for student animators. Her enthusiasm for self promotion and guerilla marketing within the festival circuit was particularly fascinating and helpful to hear as well. Hearing her story about taking “Booby Girl” all around the world and making contact with a vast, international audience base was a testament to power of thinking outside the box. I really enjoyed Brooke’s presentation and I look forward to New Deal’s future projects.

  11. Javier
    October 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

    even thought i got to class late, Brooke had good points, in what to do when your in school. Plus I was blown away to see that the film Shutter Inland was a small sets, I would have never know. Know that that was a film had mini sets, shows that hand craft work is not a thing of the. pass

  12. Ian McCormack
    October 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I really enjoyed seminar this week. Brooke had a lot of energy and passion about what she did the was really contagious. I wish to get into visual effects and her enthusiasm for the industry made me feel confident in the path that I have chosen.

    The story of her film Boobie Girl was funny and enlightening. Too often I fail to realize that every film, big or small, has a story behind it. When she told the complex tale about how the film was made and what happened after it made me see other films in a new light.

  13. Jordan Hansen
    October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    It is exciting to see miniatures still being used. I think it’s great that there is still a group of individuals that feel the best techniques is what the job calls for. There are so many places that rely on a medium or a technique instead of what’s best for the content of the film. I would be interested to see what an effects house develops for its own original content as well. Brooke’s personal path was also inspiring. Her attitude toward her work and the film world was nice to hear. I can’t wait to see what comes out of New Deal in the coming years. Especially, if Brooke is helping to develop independent projects.

  14. Linda Jules
    October 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Like Justin Connolly said, Brooke’s presentation was a wonderful breath of fresh air!! This weeks’ seminar presentation was a wonderful example of how current trends in technology don’t always replace long established methods of working. I was most pleased to hear that big named films are still recruiting shop-style Studios to re-create scenes and build original sets. For the last few years I have had this film-student fear that the days of behind the scenes movies featuring miniatures and puppets were long gone. I feared that it had all been replaced with CG replicas and 3D modeled characters. But Brookes presentation reassured me that at least some feature films are still utilizing good old fashioned minatures and the like.

    Aside from the material she presented, Brook herself was such a fabulous presenter. All of our presenters are pretty hilarious, but–aside from the visiting lecturers–this presentation seemed to be the most personal look at an animators work. I found it really inspiring, and enlightening. Thanks for the inspiration, Brooke!

  15. Allen Yau
    October 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    As some of our classmates said, in many effects scenes of feature films, sometimes it is hard to tell which one is CG which is not. The best effects shots are always the one that you don’t feel its presence. If I would be a FX supervisor for feature film, I’ll always look forward to mix different kinds of approaches to achieve my purpose, I won’t restrict my approach to only CG or other methods as my sole solution. I’m glad that miniatures are still been active these days, and there are always surprises from the world of miniatures.

  16. Eric Tortora Pato
    October 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Brooke’s demo, and videos, were fantastic. The most intriguing thing to me was that New Deal adapted to the changing industry, and became a mixed media effects shop. This strikes me as a rather brilliant move, not just for the ability to have more variety and do pretty much whatever your client needs, but because of the fact that they can reapply the tools from one (like CGI modeling) to another, as shown in the Dark Knight making of promo. I also think the Brooke’s talents as a hype(wo)man came through loud and clear, which is reassuring, as it proves that not everyone in the industry is a suffering genius invalid. It’s also great to see just how essential effects are to the industry, and that the old crafts are still well and truly alive, being used in tandem with CGI to create a more perfect, less noticeable illusion.

    Also, I hope that on her own, Brooke keeps making things with a comedic twist. Her student films proved that she has a natural knack for it, and it would be an utter shame if she never got to make more. Here’s hoping we can see and hear more from her in the future!

  17. Shaun Kim
    October 13, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Brooke’s seminar war really beneficial, especially for all animation students. She has very clear and convincing ideas about students’ film, and those ideas are very practical and necessary for all of us in animation department. Her advise about summiting festivals and promoting own film to real world is the one important I have to keep in mind. Plus, she is very delight and explains something in a easy way to understand. This personality makes me much more concentrate on the seminar.

  18. Miguel Jiron
    October 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    This was a great seminar. Brooke is obviously no stranger to public speaking and it felt as personable, informative and entertaining as any of our past seminars have been. It helps too when there are lots of explosions/destruction played throughout too. The best part was to hear about all of her very practical advice for students… it didn’t come across as cliche or old but rather lived-in and vital pieces of information. Her emphasis on publicity in particular was good to hear. I am very guilty of finishing pieces and then completely dropping the ball. Especially on complex and drawn-out work, the last thing I want to do is to keep living in it and promoting it. Usually I much rather take a breather and think about what to make next…. but Brooke really showed the importance of putting your work out there and giving it the proper respect it deserves, no matter how you feel about it/how successful it turned out. The whole festival circuit is another world I know very little about, and it was great to hear Brooke be so encouraging and supportive of artist publicity and finding an audience.

  19. Burak Kurt
    October 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I think Brooke was one of the most inspiring visitors we have got. Her presentation and works were very interesting and I really enjoy when visitors show their earlier/personal/student work that is hard to find anywhere else. I have taken so many lessons and notes from her presentation and I believe they will stay with me forever. It was great having a guest with such a great personality and will to share.

  20. October 13, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I was incredibly interested in Brooke’s presentation. First of all, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is by far one of the best in the world, and we should also submit and go if we are lucky enough to be accepted. Secondly, I was initially attracted to animation because of the special effects in Blade Runner. I’m drawn to old school effects and miniatures, including miniatures for stop motion. It was inspiring to see the work being done with miniatures, and I hope they will be continue to be used in the future.

    I also hope to see more of Brooke’s personal work. I really appreciated the direction of her pieces. Although they were not overly confrontational, they successfully (gracefully – perhaps) questioned controversial social norms.

    • October 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      ~ Laura Cechanowicz

  21. Brandon Lake
    October 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I was really amazed by Brooke’s presentation last week. It was very surprising for me to find out that the FX I had seen in many current films were not only created by her company, but also were utilizing miniatures. It is nice to see such a classic practice still used today to such great effect. In this age of CG people like myself tend to forget the power of practical FX so looking at the her companies ability to integrate the techniques into the modern film age was very interesting. Something else that stuck with me was her comment about how the films we produce in school should be personal to us. It really made me reconsider my plans for the upcoming semesters and I feel that I will approach the projects with this information in mind.

  22. October 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    The boobie girl film was very funny. I enjoy it very much. Also, her experience of making this film and people’s reflection was very interesting. I was really expecting to see more independent films. However, the FX she shown was also very impressive. It seems that is a super complicated cooperation. people work together and each project demand different ability in terms of faking the image on the screen. It is awesome to have those talented guys working together.

  23. Maria Sequeira
    October 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I really learned a lot from both parts of Brooke’s presentation. I appreciated that she went through her own experiences of student filmmaking and really encouraged us to share our films with people through festivals or any other avenues. I also really took to heart her advice to define success on my own terms. In addition, I loved to see the use of miniatures sets in movie effects. Finally it seems practical effects and computer generated imagery can live harmoniously side by side.

  24. Ryan
    October 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I really enjoyed Brookes presentation. She had a lot of good advise in school professionally and artistically. The work that is done at New Deal Studio is very cool. It is very refreshing to see people working with all styles to achieve the end goal. I have always liked practical effects and working with the CG to allow for the best of both worlds is great. It seems that Brook has achieved a similar thing in her own life being able to work in a studio setting as well as working in schools and teaching animation not just seeing life as a one way road but with many options and possibilities as long as you stay true to what you want from it.

  25. Matthew Steidl
    November 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Remembering Brooke’s presentation so long after the fact is a testament to how memorable it was – I loved the atmosphere that she described at New Deal Studios, where practical effects and CG exist side by side, and was really excited that practical effects are still, in some cases, more practical that purely computered-generated effects. The list of films that New Deal has contributed to was quite impressive, and the friendly, collaborative environment that the company fosters was quite encouraging. I was particularly interested in the dynamic between CG and the practical effects, and she spoke to that quite a bit. New Deal seems to highlight one of the major differences between large and small studios that we have been told about in many classes here at USC: while larger studios expect you to specialize only in one phase of production, smaller places like New Deal will in fact train you and encourage you to take on several different roles in the company, which is great for developing future skills. My favorite part of the presentation was watching the set for Aviator get built – the physical model houses were really impressive! It’s kind of sad that such elaborate models live only long enough to get blown up, but it must be a thrill to the creators to see their work in the finished film!

  26. November 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Boobie girl is such a simple story….but almost all the people like it. I think it is becuase the topic she chose is based on a common question… and only she noticed that and made it an animation….It is so cute and likes a children story.. But it really touches every adult’s mind.. It is a good example for us.

    Also, the visual affect of New ideal is very cool… Shutter island is a film touching my mind a lot and I was so suprised that the mental hospital is made in a very small size… And the tower as well… Also I want to know the processes to do that.

  27. Jovanna
    December 6, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Booke’s presentation left us with several essential points all film students should keep in mind. In particular, Brooke shared several of her student films marketing strategies. While on tour with her film Boobie Girl, she used product to gain exposure. She passed out free heavy duty vinyl stickers and sold Boobie Girl t-shirts to fans. These techniques earned her a spot on NPR; she initially met the journalist through a Boobie Girl t-shirt sale. This simple but effective technique lasted years later; Brooke mentioned finding an old vinyl Boobie Girl sticker on a refrigerator at a random creative organization.

  28. Juan Gonzalez
    December 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Brooke is such a fun and generous person that her presentation was both entertaining and very informative. Her career path is so interesting and inspiring because she just took those specific things that she is good at and really took advantage of them. Trusting herself and being proactive has given her a lot in life and is good to see how she did it.

  29. Kim Cagney
    December 14, 2010 at 6:42 am

    It was very interesting to see Brooke’s early work, and then hear about what she did with it and how it affected her career.

    As well, the New Deal work was very interesting – seeing physical and digital effects work together seamlessly. I’m sure most audiences assume such effects are almost if not completely all done with CG, and it’s a bit sad to see so little credit for beautifully executed cinematic effects to be attributed to practical effects.

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