BIG SKY – A Tangled Tale is an official selection for this year’s Annecy
International Animation Film Festival, the most prestigious and longest
running animation festival in the world. The short film will also screen at
the Hamburg International Short Film Festival, Maui Film Festival and the
Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, making June a very busy month for
Big Sky-based director Corrie Francis Parks.
The film follows two fish hooked beneath the surface of a Montana river.
As the two fish struggle, they realize that the very thing they are trying to
escape is also what draws them together. The resulting romance is a
tangled tale.
Parks, who will be traveling with the film to Europe, was recently awarded
a Big Sky Festival Grant by the Montana Film Office to travel and promote
the film at the festivals.
“My animation is inspired by the light and colors that surround me, the
expansive sky, the mountains, the rivers. I would not be able to stay
inside and animate for such long stretches if I didn’t have the outdoors to
run to when I needed to recharge.”
Each frame of the film was created with sand on an illuminated lightbox,
just as it was done by the technique’s pioneer, Caroline Leaf. The sand
was captured with a digital camera and then reworked into a new image,
adding up to a total of 4,385 individual sand drawings.
“It’s a high consequence form of animation, because there is no way to go
back and make corrections. That forward momentum is what carries me
through the long hours under the camera,” Parks said.
Parks next takes each frame and hand tints it in Photoshop, then
composites the sequence over several layers of painted backgrounds in
After Effects. The result is a multilayered, underwater environment, which
is the home to her two lively sandfish.
With its depth of textures and colors, A Tangled Tale has redefined what
sand animation can and will look like in the future. The film took two years
to make, and was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Sound
design for the watery environment was done by Chicago artist Cole Pierce
and the original music was composed by Mark Orton, a founding member
of the chamber group Tin Hat and a Sundance Institute Fellow.
Watch a trailer from the film, and more in depth information about sand
animation can be found on the film’s website, Find more of Parks’ work at