Tahlequah Daily Press


April 2, 2013

Cypert makes performance art a family affair

TAHLEQUAH — Art and imagination can blossom when nurtured, and that’s what Steve Cypert is doing with his grandchildren through film-making.

Computer art and animation combine with performance art for Cypert to create short films with Ashlyn, 5, and her brother, 6-year-old Hunter Ford.

The children have supplied voices for characters in two completed short film, and  a feature film is still in progress. In a third short film, “Use Your Imagination,” the children played themselves.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Cypert said. “It’s a family thing.”

For the past three summers, the trio has produced the short films, later showing them to classmates at Grand View School.

Hunter’s first-grade classmates enjoyed the shows and applauded.

“The girls thought it was better, because the girl won in the end,” said Hunter.

Friends in Ashlyn’s kindergarten class liked the movie, too.

“It made me feel happy, and want to make more movies,” she said.

The films have also been entered in the Bare Bones Film Festival and won awards.

They filmed “Use Your Imagination” last summer, and were inspired when their grandmother, Connie Cypert, told them to go use their imagination.

“We acted like we were sad because nobody was at the park,” Hunter said. “Then I pretended there was a dinosaur and Ashlyn ran away. When Grandpa tells us to use expression, we have to yell loud.”

This art form gives a whole new aspect to playing.

“I really like our acting,” Ashlyn said, “It’s really fun to pretend to play.”

While many children use their imagination to play, not many have a grandpa who turns it into a film, or uses the experience to help them develop stage presence, confidence or an interest in a hobby or career like film-making.

“They’ve grown up in Grandpa’s playhouse,” Cypert said of his recording studio, now also a film production studio.

Along with producing and animating the short films, Cypert also composes and performs the music for all their films.

Hunter is learning to use the computers, and plays the instruments in the studio.

“What’s fun is doing stuff with him,” Hunter said. “And I’m learning to listen.”

Ashlyn likes doing the voices, along with acting.

“Our voices kind of change, when I hear them it doesn’t sound like us,” Ashlyn said. “But it’s really fun; Grandpa makes it fun.”

“Dragon Thumper Chronicles” was the first film, compiled from video shot during the summers when Hunter was 2-4.

The second, “Nothing To Do,” is about bored kids looking for something to do, who get chased by robots. It was accepted last summer for “Angry Baby Monkey Showcase,” a Time-Warner series that began in New York City this past Friday. If it’s picked up for syndication it will air locally, Cypert said.

Cypert met the producer Ford Austin, and his wife, Laurie Dash, producer of the daytime show, “The Doctors” at Bare Bones.

“He posted on Facebook asking for short films, and his wife liked mine,” Cypert said. “He’s from Oklahoma City, and he’s been around the movie business a long time.”

The full-length feature Cypert is completing, “The Mighty Behemoth,” will be released on the Internet in segments, and three seasons and will be shown in the Bare Bones Film Festival in 2015 as a full movie.

It won Best Feature Script last year at the festival.

“You can enter the script one year and the film the following year,” Cypert said.

One of the best parts of the experience for Hunter is when the films win awards.

“It’s really exciting to win medals,” Hunter said.

Cypert also looks forward to the festival.

“We make these great connections at the festival. It’s kind of like a small family. We go to other festivals, too,” Cypert said.

He met Anita Cordell and Meagan Flynn at the festival and helped Cordell with a film project. He did the music and animation for, “The Reverse Angle Jonah,” which won best animation for a short film at a film festival in San Diego last November.

Both, “The Reverse Angle Jonah” and “Use Your Imagination” will be playing at the Bare Bones Film Festival next Saturday as part of the kids festival, Cypert said.

“These are movies made by kids and for kids,” he said. “One 12-year-old girl has done her own animation. That’s really impressive.”

Some refer to the Bare Bones Film Festival as the friendliest film festival, and Cypert agrees. This year, people from Israel, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia will be participating in the film festival, Cypert said. Last year, he met people from Russia.

“It is an international film festival,” he said, “for movies that cost $1 million or less to make.”

And he likes that the grandkids get to meet other children who are making movies.


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