He Co-Designed DART's Traveling Man. Now, Brandon Oldenburg Is Up For an Oscar.

While browsing this morning's list of Academy Award nominees, I came across one very familiar name: Brandon Oldenburg, beneath the heading Short Film (Animated). For years, of course, he was best known as one of the bright young minds behind Deep Ellum-based Reel FX. Then he became known as the man who, with Brad Oldham, decorated Deep Ellum with the Traveling Man sculptures. But this morning, he's an Oscar nominee ... with a short film rejected by the USA Film Festival.

Oldenburg and William Joyce, a longtime collaborator, have been nominated for their remarkable short The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an interactive children's book that doubles as an iPad app. It has played Dallas but once: at the Dallas Video Festival in the fall. But fret not: Some time today, Oldenburg tells Unfair Park, it will be available on Vimeo. As soon as Oldenburg shoots me the film, I will replace the trailer above with the whole film.

BradOldhamandBrandonOldenburg.jpg
Brad Oldham, left, and Oldenburg before they took their Traveling Man to Deep Ellum
"This is amazing," he says this morning when reached at Moonbot Studios' HQ in Shreveport. Oldenburg moved to Louisiana in the fall of 2009, no easy decision.

It was, he says now, just "a wacky dream" and a giant risk. He didn't want to leave Dallas, but his collaborators told him: "The train is leaving the station." Much of New Orleans's film-making community had decamped for film-friendly Shreveport following Katrina; the town was rich with tax incentives. Oldenburg could not resist the call. And now, this.

"We are freaking out," he says. "It's so rad. It's such affirmation for making such a crazy decision to move to Shreveport. But we have an amazing crew here and never doubted it for a second. Years of building the studio in Dallas, it was a hard decision." He's here often, with family in Fort Worth and friends in Dallas. "But we started all over."

When we spoke this morning, you could hear the occasional outbursts occurring 'round the Moonbot offices; they're a giddy lot, and rightly so.

"We did the research, and there have been more people that have gone into outer space than have been nominated for an animated Oscar short," Oldenburg says. I'll take his word. "To be among 6,000 considered and then to make it into the final five? It was our goal to get to this point -- this point, the nominated point. We were building a studio with that as the goal. This is affirming that we are doing something right. And as crazy as it may sound -- to build a studio in Shreveport -- it's just crazy enough that it worked."

He says James Faust, artistic director for the Dallas International Film Festival, begged him for the OK to include The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore in last year's fest. Oldenburg declined, hoping instead to get into the USA Film Festival -- where winning an animated-short first prize instantly qualifies a filmmaker for Oscar consideration. But the USA Film Festival passed. "The timing sucked," Oldenburg says. "In hindsight we should have gone with the Dallas International Film Festival." Bart Weiss wound up including it in last year's video fest, celebrating not only the artistry of the film but the inventiveness of the accompanying app.

Now, there is but one question on Oldenburg's mind as he prepares for the Oscar ceremony next month: "Who am I wearing?" He laughs. "Any Dallas designer, call me. I'd be happy to entertain it. Dickies is out of Fort Worth, aren't they?"
My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Ann Alexander
Ann Alexander

CORRECTION – The referenced film was indeed entered into the USA Film Festival’s Academy-qualified Short Film Competition.  The film scored well (finalist level) but did not take the top category prize.  The film was not “rejected” as categorized in the piece, quite the contrary.  Virtually every year, the USAFF Competition’s finalist and winning films end up on the Academy’s nomination or short-list, and this year is no exception.  With regard to the film not having been able to play elsewhere – The information in the piece is completely incorrect.  The USAFF Shorts Competition does not require (and has NEVER required) any sort of “premiere” status for short films entering the prestigious 34-year-old Competition.  In fact, the USAFF encourages filmmakers to play their short films anywhere they can – their status in the Competition is not affected.  Indeed, several films that played locally before the USAFF Competition have gone on to subsequently take well-publicized Awards at USAFF, including five films during the past three years which were, in fact, played by the programmer mentioned.  The only play USAFF does discourage (for Shorts entering the Competition) is playing films via internet or broadcast outlets because doing so can disqualify a film from Academy consideration.Ann Alexander, Managing Director, USA Film Festival Dallas

Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor

Congratulations to Brandon...was so glad to have heard him speak about the App at VideoFest 24...Why I prefer VideoFest to USA Film Festival and DIFF/AFI/DFS--whatever they are called now...is because it has always included the latest in innovative technology...hdtv years ago, virtual reality years ago, CD Roms years ago....I am interested in media not just celebrities and films and the VideoFest has always come thru! Yes I am on the board for VideoFest, but again...that is why I give my heart, my money and my time to it...you should too!

Howard
Howard

This is great. Hope to see the full short soon.

I am curious though -- how *did* they get their short nominated by the Academy then? This seems to be a big question, and interesting fact, left out of this story.

Guest
Guest

Another example of locally grown talent that feels they have to leave the state to make a living while the city and state line up to throw money at those fancy, love-'em-and-leave-'em types from Hollywood.

Whenever I go to a WGA shindig out west, I'm always amazed at how many of us are from this area... and how few of us stayed.

Oh, and congrats to the Oscar Nominees! Excellent work (the whole short is on Vimeo now, and it's extremely well done).

LaceyB
LaceyB

haven't seen the short, but how in the flying flip did USA FF get around to being an Oscar qualifying film fest? They are the ugly beatup stepmother to DIFF, which makes me so happily movie-d out each year that I can't sit still thru USA's fest. Even if I wanted the Ticketmaster surcharge for everything.

In any event, congrats guys! Go Dallas! Reel FX always does awesome shorts.

Guest
Guest

The IMDb says the short played at the Santa Barbara festival, which is also Academy Qualifying.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Stepmom, perhaps. DIFF's been around for about 6 years. USAFF's been around for about 42?

LaceyB
LaceyB

Noted, and corrected. You are so right! I still go to USA sometimes when they are GIVING away their tickets though. Shhhh.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...