The Eternal Wait for The Thief of Always

the-thief-of-alwaysLast week, The DAVE School announced a student project from their school has been nominated for two Suncoast Regional EMMY® Awards.

The project is a short animated film that takes the form of a “book trailer”. It’s a fully-imagined and voice acted animation promoting “The Thief of Always”, a classic horror story by Clive Barker.

If this short film is any indication, the kids behind it have great careers ahead of them. In 3 minutes, it creates a world, establishes its characters, and above all, leaves the viewer wanting more.

It’s a trailer for a movie that will likely never be made. That’s nothing short of cruel, because “The Thief of Always” looks to be every bit the equal of big-budget Halloween animated classics.

There’s nothing for it, so the book will have to do. Or the graphic novel.

For now, watch the trailer once or twice and revel in the agony of knowing there will never be more.

Yes, that’s voice acting legend John DiMaggio in the role of creepy mastermind Rictus, as well as the narrator and Mr. Hood. The other voices in the film seem to be students or smaller freelancers.

Although the art is squarely in the realm of “ordinary” 3D animation, its mood and story have much more in common with Coraline, a stop-motion film created by visionary director Henry Selick. That was based on the book by Neil Gaiman, which shares several themes with The Thief of Always.

Like Coraline, Harvey finds himself in a strange place that, on the surface, is better than home in every imaginable way. Holiday House seems built from the ground up to keep kids like him happy. It’s Halloween every night, there’s all the candy he can eat, and Christmas is always just around the corner.

Also like Coraline, it seems Harvey will soon realize that there truly can be too much of a good thing. We only catch a glimpse of the monster that seeks to consume Harvey, but the implications are clear. If he stays much longer, he will never leave.

Those masks are likely to be the souls or spirits of kids Rictus has lured to Holiday House, never to return. It’s the core of a story as old as Peter Pan.

The film was shown on the big screen as part of the Orlando Film Festival on October 22nd. It’s a big break for a few animation students, and well-deserved.

What is The DAVE School

The DAVE School’s full name is The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School. It’s part of Florida Technical College, and is located on a sound stage at Universal Studios Florida.

The school offers training in all the skills of modern media. Classes are held in 3D modeling and animation, game production, motion graphics, and 3D effects.

It’s wonderful to find treasures like this in student productions, and it’s even better to see them getting the industry attention they deserve.

We’ll certainly keep an eye on what these kids are up to after graduation. Maybe even a full-length animated feature. Maybe, just maybe, one called The Thief of Always.

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