Animation Profile: Kendra Williford

Our second “Animation Profile” features Kendra Williford. Williford recently graduated in Spring 2015 with the completion of her film, Leonid in Space. Within these few months, her short has been selected into 9 film festivals with awards and merits.

Kendra and Michael
Kendra Williford and Michael Vickner at Williford’s Final Review Presentation.

Why an MFA degree in 2D/Traditional Animation & Stop Motion at AAU?

I have loved 2 things since I was a young kid—1) Drawing, and 2) Traditional Animation. I grew up watching Disney films, and wanted to study with professors who had first-hand experience working on those films and in the industry.

Name 3 big influences during your time as a student at AAU.

  1. The first time I watched Frank & Ollie (Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, former Disney Animators) it changed my whole perspective on animation.
  1. Shaking Ted Thomas’ hand (Frank’s son) when he was touring the school.
  1. Watching Sherrie Sinclair, Michael Vickner, and Diana Coco-Russell take my work and transform it before my eyes to something better.

In less than 3 sentences, what is your film about?

Leonid in Space follows Leonid, a homeless dog, who goes from living on the streets to becoming the first canine cosmonaut.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 9.42.31 AM

While you were working on your thesis project, which personified emotion from Inside Out would you have been?

I would have to say I experienced them all at one time or another, but most of all it teetered between fear and disgust. I was afraid I wouldn’t finish on time, and I was disgusted by my lack of knowledge when I wanted to know it all instantly!

Tools/programs you used to make your film?

Photoshop, ToonBoom Harmony, Premiere Pro

Why did you decide to submit your film into festivals? 

I wanted to get some feedback from judges, and I wanted to see how audiences responded to the film. I also wanted exposure, to maybe help me obtain an animation job.

After you graduated from AAU, what are you up to now?

Taking odd (but artistic) jobs, trying to find a place at an animation studio.

Would you encourage future graduate students to submit their work to festivals? If so, what would you suggest for them to do and NOT to do?

Absolutely! However, make sure the festivals you submit to have animation or student specific categories. It is VERY difficult for judges to judge a live action film against an animated film, especially if said judges have no experience in the field of animation. If you pick a festival that has an animation category, the chances go up of them knowing a little something about the category (although this may not be true in all cases). Not only that, the student categories tend to be cheaper—allowing you to submit to more festivals.

Leonid in Space

Which festival has been your favorite so far and why?

The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival has been my favorite so far, not because I won the category, but because they were quick to respond to the submission, and broadcasted the selections on their site—which means more exposure for the filmmakers.

If you can only watch one film on constant replay for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Groundhog Day?

List of all the festivals your film has been selected and screened at.

Los Angeles Independent Film Festival—Best Student Animation

North Carolina Film Awards—Director’s Award

Best Shorts Competition—Award of Merit

Gwinnett Center International Film Festival—Nominated for Best Animation; Best Director of an Animated Film

Dog Film Festival—Official Selection

Shortz! Film Festival—Official Selection

Accolade Global Film Competition—Official Selection and Award of Merit for Student Animation

InterShort Online Film Awards—Official Selection

ITSA Film Festival—Official Selection

movie poster

To follow Kendra Williford and Leonid in Space, visit the links below:

Leonid in Space’s Facebook Page

Kendra Williford’s Website:

Kendra Williford’s Facebook Page: