Director Keika Lee is bringing an “Odd Dog” to Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival

There comes a moment when you decide to become a pet owner, whether you’re a kid or an adult. It could be a fish, snake, hamster, or one of the popular choices: cat or dog. 

In the animated short Odd Dog, you get the best of both worlds! Greyscale Animation created this short featuring a young boy wanting to own a dog. However, years later, that all changes when he stumbles upon a cat on the street who behaves very similar to a dog. Sounds odd, right? 

This sweet 5-minute film reminds every previous and current pet owner of all the memories when first interacting with your pet to the moment you realize how much color they brought to your life (quite literally). 

Odd Dog will be screening during this year’s Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival in Silicon Valley. Before that, we had a chance to interview the film director, producer, and screenwriter Keika Lee to hear more about how they brought this piece together. 

How did you start your career in animation? 

I knew I wanted to be an animator when I saw my first animated film, Disney’s “Cinderella” at 7. After I saw that film, I kept drawing in my sketchbook. I begged my parents to send me to art classes and eventually art college to learn 2D animation. I was lucky to have supportive parents who believed in me and wanted me to do what I loved.

Specifically, what’s it like to be an animator in the Bay Area? Has living here motivated or had any effect on your career? 

I actually don’t animate anymore. I produced and directed “Odd Dog” and worked with animators to create it. 

Working in the Bay Area in animation has been a great experience. I had the opportunity to work at PDI/DreamWorks Animation when it was around in Redwood City, and there are still some great film studios today, like Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic, and Tippett. It’s very inspiring and motivating to know there are these big studios around but also smaller independent studios like Tonko House and Kuku Studios that produce amazing work as well. They show me that anything is possible.

I read that “Odd Dog” was based on your son and cat. How is your son’s relationship with his cat? Does he still want a dog eventually? 

Unfortunately, our cat passed away a few months ago, but my son and our cat were inseparable when he was with us—the best of friends. Our cat would follow our son around the house, and anytime our son would nap when he was smaller, our cat would lie down next to him and nap with him. We eventually got a dog, but our son and cat remained close friends. 

So many people came together for “Odd Dog.” What was the collaboration process like as you all worked together? 

Even though many people were involved in making this short film, they all worked on the film at different stages of development. The stage where we had the most artists working together was during animation. We were all in other parts of the Bay Area and the country, so our team meetings were via video conference.  

What’s it like for you to have “Odd Dog” in this year’s Cinequest Summer Festival? 

I am thrilled and honored to have “Odd Dog” screening at Cinequest! I grew up in the Bay Area and would see Cinequest in the news every year and thought, “I’m going to be in that festival one day!” And here I am. I can’t wait to see my film play in a theater with a live audience at Cinequest.

What’s next for Greyscale Animation?

We are working on our third animated short film and some other projects. I am just producing this third short film and giving the opportunity to a colleague at Greyscale to direct her first film at our studio. I loved her script and felt she would make an excellent director. So far, it’s been going very well. We can’t wait to announce more about the project soon!

Do you have any advice for young filmmakers who eventually want their films in festivals like Cinequest?

The first step in making any dream come true is to take action. Making a film takes hard work and dedication, but if you take it one step at a time, eventually, you will get it done. Then you have something to submit to festivals like Cinequest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There is no other feeling like watching your film in a theater with an audience. It’s invigorating.

Catch Odd Dog during Cinequest Summer Festival on Sunday, August 20, or Thursday, August 24. Head to Cinequest’s website to purchase tickets: HERE.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

August 15, 2023

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