Cartooning and the Power of Imagination

Cartooning and the Power of Imagination

Summer is almost here, and surely your family is looking forward to beach trips, poolside relaxation, amusement park fun, and strolls on the boardwalk. Your calendar is probably already booked with lots of preplanned events to keep the kids occupied! But when your little bundles of energy aren’t splashing and running around, they’ll need to find ways to exercise their minds. At Small Factory, we have lots of exciting programs that allow your child to express his or her creativity and learn new things, all while having fun with friends (and staying cool!)

One program that will really get your child’s imagination soaring is Create-A-Cartoon. This program introduces children to creative writing, art, music and acting. Your child will instantly become a young producer and work with other children to dream up an original story that will be turned into a mini cartoon movie. They journey through the production process while developing characters, backgrounds, props, scripts and music.

A main component of creating a cartoon is storytelling, a process that helps children to learn how to organize their thoughts and express creativity. Storytelling may well be the cornerstone of imaginative development. And a child with a good imagination is happier and more alert, better able to cope with life’s twists and turns, and more likely to grow into a well-adjusted, secure adult.

Through the process of creating a cartoon, your child will develop forces of creativity that will benefit them throughout their whole life. Creative individuals see things in new ways and find solutions to problems others might miss. That kind of problem-solving and innovative thinking begins with the power of imagination.

In Create-A-Cartoon, children will also develop teamwork skills. They can either create their own group to develop the cartoon or work with new friends. The ability to work together with others as part of a team is a vital skill used in all areas of life. Working as part of a team will strengthen your child’s social and emotional skills, help develop their communication skills, and can improve confidence.

Small Factory owner Chris Dudick’s goal with the Create-A-Cartoon program is to give children the ability to create and produce anything they want – an opportunity he wishes he had while growing up.  His love of cartooning, illustration and animation started at an early age; however, he didn’t have the resources found at Small Factory to express his interest. He was still able to follow his passion throughout his childhood, and later became an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic designer, animator, writer and editor.  He’s worked on children’s shows for Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Cartoon Network, and AOL. The experience he’s gained from this work has allowed him to develop the Create-A-Cartoon program, drawing inspiration from the same process gone through to create the popular children’s shows you see on television today.

Cartooning and the Power of ImaginationThe process of creating a cartoon during the Create-A-Cartoon program beings with a group discussion of what goes into making a cartoon, such as the characters, settings, sound effects, problems and solutions. The Small Factory instructors work with the students to develop the characters by asking them questions to get ideas forming. By asking these questions, the instructors are showing the students that they can create any character they want. They explain that the character cannot be something that already exists on television or in a movie. The character has to be from their imagination.

From there, the students explain what kind of characters they would like to see in their story. Once they come up with a few different characters, the students go through a creative process Small Factory Productions’ calls “character mashing,” to finalize the cast. Once characters are mashed, it’s time to get a better sense of the role each character will play in the story. To help that process, students work together to identify character traits that the stories can build upon.

Finally, the students and instructors work together to write the final script. Once the script is written, the students work with a music instructor to write a theme song. The process ends with the students getting to record their voices for their character and sing/record the theme song.

Recently, Small Factory Productions and Friendship Train Foundation, in association with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, held a contest for students to create and submit characters to star in the cartoon “If You Can See It, You Can Be It!” Ten submissions were chosen and the students created the cartoon at Small Factory, going through the Create-A-Cartoon process.

The cartoon was inspired by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media mission to change female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s media and entertainment.

The story takes place in Inspirewood – a place where movies are made. Two of the biggest movie producers come up with an idea to make a movie with an equal balance of male and female characters. During the casting call, actors audition for certain roles based on their gender and appearance, but wish they could play other roles they typically wouldn’t be expected to play.

For example, Julie, a girl in a wheelchair, originally tries out for the role of a maid but wishes she can play the super hero. Maximus, a body builder, originally tries out for the role of the super hero but wishes he could play the maid. At the end of the casting call, the producers ask the actors if there is a role they would have rather tried out for. All the actors raise their hands, and the producers let them know they’ve decided to get rid of stereotypes in movies and cast the actors as the roles they really want to play.

Watch the cartoon “If You Can See It, You Can Be It!” here. You can watch all cartoons and claymation shorts created by Small Factory students on our YouTube Channel.

Small Factory is offering Create-A-Cartoon summer camps throughout August:

Week 8: August 3rd – 7th Create-A-Cartoon & Comic Strip (Ages 4-6)

Week 11: August 24th- 28th Create-A-Cartoon (Ages 6-9)

For more details on the camps and to register, visit this link.  Cartooning classes are offered throughout the year. Register for our next session of classes here.

Cartooning and the Power of Imagination