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Carlos Douglas, Jr.

Carlos Douglas Jr is an animator & director/producer of KENYA'S SYMPHONY. He is a spring 2020 graduate of Columbia College Chicago under the Interactive Arts and Media program, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Animation. He acted as the president of the Columbia College Chicago Animation Association (CCCAA), a prominent student organization at the college intended to expand curriculum beyond the classroom experience, preparing and opening opportunities for animation students in the industry. In addition to directing and producing KENYA'S SYMPHONY, he is the producer on BUSTER AND JAMSON, an animated short created for the Animation Production Studio course at Columbia.

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Carlos began creating art at a very young age and continued his study of the arts into adulthood. Carlos studied for years under the teachings of Nikki Kutansky, a long-time arts instructor at the Center for Visual & Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana before enrolling at Columbia College Chicago. During his tenure in Nikki’s class, his interest in animation and motion picture arts was realized. Some of his accolades include creating the character design of “Little Rocky” on musician Rocky Kramer’s music video, Rock Star, creating animation for the 2021 Chicago Jazz Institute's celebration of "International Jazz Day", storyboarding for live-action films produced at Columbia College Chicago, and organizing the 2020 digital Storyreel Showcase at Columbia.

Carlos has a goal of producing and directing animated content with narrative. Television and film provide a great outlet for stories to be shared. Carlos plans to find his place among the animation community and continue to create animated content for the screen.

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KENYA'S SYMPHONY was completed with no budget, only with the resources that were available at my disposal, along with my collaborators. KENYA'S SYMPHONY tells the story of a young girl coming to appreciate an art form less traveled by a modern generation. Diving even deeper, this is the story of a person being placed in an unfamiliar situation and being changed by the experience; this change happens not by force, but by chance. By giving the symphony a chance, she finds enchantment in the unfamiliar.

Despite everything and everyone looking different, Kenya becomes one of the insiders in this fantastic turn of events. I hope that this film can be viewed by people both young and old so that they can have some fun watching Kenya's chaotic energy be transformed into something positive. I also hope that they take away this valuable piece of wisdom with them. Give things a try and experience a whole new side of yourself!

Kenya’s Symphony is a 2-D animated short produced and directed by Carlos, with music composed by Michael Van Bodegom Smith (“Beyond The Door”, “Me and Myself”, “Teacher of the Year”). This project was inspired by Carlos’ employment as an usher for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his passion for film and orchestral music. This film was completed over the course of three semesters with no budget. His plan was to produce a film primarily driven by visuals and music. The score was recorded by a 60-piece orchestra and combined with a sound mix for a sonic experience without dialogue. Kenya’s Symphony had its premiere screening at the Big Teeth Small Shorts Festival in Chicago, Illinois, winning the "People's Choice" Award in the Small Shorts category. Since then, it has screened in over 60 film festivals worldwide, along with winning 14 "Best Animation" awards among other accolades.

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Kenya's Symphony

In the lush and gorgeously animated Kenya's Symphony, a young five-year-old girl named Kenya is reluctantly dragged to the symphony alongside her mother. Irritated at first, Kenya does her best to distract herself with a little mischief, but as she loses a battle of wills with her patient mother, Kenya settles in to listen to the music. As the orchestra continues, Kenya is carried away by the music, imagining herself as a musician in the orchestra and falling in love with the beautiful power of music.

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I was inspired to produce and direct this film based off my time working at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Downtown Chicago is such an inspirational area of the city with all of its overlapping culture from all walks, providing artists both young and old with a plethora of valuable resources. The CSO made a profound impact on me, being one of the most prominent orchestras in the country (debatably, in the world), and I couldn't wait to start my job there.

This film is about a young girl visiting a symphony for the first time and being enchanted by her initial experience with this medium of expression. To me, this speaks loudly about the wonderful experiences one can have in a new environment. It is all about trying new things outside of your familiar four walls of everyday life. Sometimes people can find themselves stagnant in their lives, not moving forward and refusing new experiences with ones they are already familiar with. A certain level of comfort has to be challenged for the common person to alter their way of life; this phenomenon happens many times during our lives, but I feel that it is especially pivotal for a young person to have this epiphany at some point in their development.

Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the United States; to no one's surprise, this means there is an incalculable array of cultures, subcultures, and people that walk this city's streets. Whether you're a West Sider, North Sider, or South Sider, it is of the utmost importance that you get a chance to see the things that make this city so diverse. Kenya, being a young black girl, at first feels out of place in that symphony hall for a variety of reasons, however by the end of the film, she comes to understand that the symphony can be an awe-inspiring place. This isn't something that she sees on an everyday basis, but all it took was one trip to the symphony for her to turn a new leaf.

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Carlos Douglas Jr's signature animation style, and the musicality and charm of KENYA'S SYMPHONY will still with you long after viewing. Learn more about him and his work here.