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Kickstart to Hollywood

Terrence Masson has launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of his animated short film The Café, which tells the story of a hopelessly romantic Parisian artist who tries to woo the woman of his dreams. Standing in the protagonist’s way, said Masson, an executive professor of animation in the College of Arts, Media and Design, is a “viciously protective, annoyingly cunning, adorably fluffy white dog.”

Standing in the protagonist’s way is a “viciously protective, annoyingly cunning, adorably fluffy white dog.”

Here’s a sketch of the “viciously protective, annoyingly cunning, adorably fluffy white dog.”

The goal of the campaign is to raise $40,000 by Aug. 8. The money will be used to hire professional musicians and lighting experts, most of whom will be Northeastern graduates, and to promote the film when it is finished next year.

Masson plans on submitting the short to animated film festivals in the U.S., Canada, and France, but the endgame is the Academy Awards. “Plenty of independent films with modest production budgets end up going all the way,” he said. “Why not shoot high?”

The film crew comprises Masson; professional animators including his wife, Dana, and her colleagues from Walt Disney Studios and Nelvana, a Canadian entertainment company; and an interdisciplinary cast of undergraduate students in music, business, animation, and graphic design.

Students in the last four iterations of Masson’s senior capstone or short animated film production and development courses have contributed to every aspect of The Café, from sound effects to character modeling.

Terrence Masson, executive professor of animation in the College of Arts, Media and Design.

Terrence Masson, executive professor of animation in the College of Arts, Media and Design.

Jake Farber scored the film in Masson’s production and development course last spring, using synthesizers to evoke the sounds of a Parisian café. If the Kickstarter funding comes through, Masson would hire professional musicians to record his score using real instruments.

“It was incredibly exciting to have this opportunity,” said Farber, a third-year music major whose professional goal is to compose film scores, “but it was also terrifying because a bad score could ruin an otherwise fantastic film.”

Both he and Masson praised the course’s collaborative working environment. “Most graduates will go to work on another person’s project as part of a team,” Masson said. “This course gives them a chance to experience what that would be like, as well as take on leadership roles and critique other people’s work.”