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Now Playing: Swimmy by Leo Leoni


Artists in Schools

Now Playing: Swimmy by Leo Leoni

Students at PS 33M debut their animated film created with the assistance of CMA Artist Instructors Larkin Grimm and Gonzalo Miñano.

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We are incredibly proud to debut Swimmy by Leo Leoni, the new animated film created by kindergarten and first graders at PS 33M Chelsea Prep!

Over the course of 7 weeks, students from 8 (!) different classes worked together to conceptualize, build, write, and record an animated film completely of their choosing. The resulting film celebrates what's possible when children are given the time, resources, and guidance to create ambitious works of art. Check it out below!

CMA Artist Instructor Larkin Grimm reflects on the project:

"I've been making fun, somewhat chaotic stop-motion videos with Chelsea Prep students for a few years now, and this year I wanted to try something new — getting all the students to work together to create a long-form story by asking each classroom to animate one or two scenes of the film and compiling them into one cohesive narrative.

We chose to animate Swimmy because the multitude of sea creatures in the story provided an opportunity for every student to create and animate a character. It's also a story about the power of working together, so the message echoed our filmmaking process.

We had four kindergarten classes and four first grade classes working with us, and we assigned each class a setting and a scene to animate. Sometimes we would take backgrounds from one class to the next for continuity, and the clay characters ended up traveling all over the school with us. We had a whole pile of little red fish that we would carry around in a basket from class to class, and kids were constantly generating more and more sea creatures to include in our film.

We recorded the narration over several days, asking the kids to speak the sentences line by line until it was clear enough for anyone to understand. The hardest part was compiling all of our clips from the five iPads we used in each of 8 classrooms and putting them all in the right order! Gonzalo deserves a prize for his editing work.

Every child in every class contributed significantly to this project — molding clay animals, designing backgrounds, and animating the movements step-by-step. We hope that they will all be proud of this film and will come away with an understanding that anything is possible when we learn to work together!"

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. With special thanks to NYC District 3 Council Member Erik Bottcher and Motoko Shoboji.

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