The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

SMU alumnus nominated for Oscar

It’s a short film, but that doesn’t mean it’s a small film.

“The Fantastic Flying Books or Morris Lessmore” imagines a world of books where they come alive.

And I don’t mean that they come alive in the way your English teachers and librarians would talk about.

In this short film, books fly, they breathe, they have a heartbeat, and they literally bring people to different worlds.

The new short film was recently nominated for an Academy Award. It was also written and directed by SMU alumnus William Joyce.

According to the film’s website, the short film was inspired “in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and a love for books.”

After a storm tears Lessmore from his quiet perch on a balcony in New Orleans, the hero finds himself, his cane and the book he was writing in, in a dreary grayscale landscape.

He is then lead through the black and white wreckage to a place inhabited by colorful, living, dancing, piano playing books.

The makers of the film have also released an interactive iPad app.

This app will allow you to “Put yourself in Morris’ shoes as you dive into the story of Mr. Lessmore and his flying friends through Moonbot Studios’ first Interactive Storybook.”

Joyce, who graduated from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts in 1981, has written and illustrated children’s books and been involved with film and television.

Some of his books have made it on to the small and big screens.

“George Shrinks” was turned into a show for PBS and “Rolie Polie Olie” was on the Disney Channel.

His book, “A Day with Wilbur Robinson,” was adapted for the 2007 Disney film “Meet the Robinsons.”

He was also one of the creatures of the film “Robots.”

He is also the co-founder of Shreveport based Moonbot Studios.

In a Q&A done prior to the “Robots” release, Joyce spoke about his time at SMU.

“I went in a clean slate in a lot of ways. I was a snob ­— but I came out completely different,” said Joyce.

“I just saw things I never thought I’d see. I was around people I never thought I’d be around,” said Joyce.

“I saw a different perspective of things. I met people from a different way of life and was exposed to ideas that I’d never seen or heard or never thought about. SMU taught me life.”

Two other SMU alumni helped to create the short film.

Stewart Mayer, who graduated in 1997, invented camBLOCK, which is described as a new “robotic camera system, which helped the film’s creators achieve what they describe as ‘a hybrid style of animation.'”

Jason Hess, who graduated in 1999, operated this camBLOCK system. 

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