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July 29, 2020

Q&A: Making “17 Small Ideas,” a Short Film by Andrew Myers

Artist and Hornet director Andrew Myers thought of many, seemingly small ideas leading up to the creation of this project. Disparate and disjointed, those little thoughts would come together over 8 months of work to create 17 Small Ideas, which won the 2020 Webby Award for Weird in Video. Filmed, directed, and edited by Myers, these 17 vignettes feel quirky and intimate, bold while remaining quiet, and like a breath of fresh air.

Winner Stories: Q&A on 17 Small Ideas by Andrew Myers

We spoke with Myers about the process of creating the project, his inspirations, and his experiences over the last few months. See into his process alongside the final product—and explore more inspirational projects on the Webby Winners Gallery + Index.

What inspired the main idea behind this project about 17 small ideas?

I had a lot of little ideas over the months prior to making this. They all seemed desperate and confusing and came about from a lot of different sources of inspiration. Everything from going through the picture archives at the New York Public Library to odd things I saw in the street (A collage at a deli was one example) helped to inform this weird visual exploration. I had so much fun putting together a plan for this and approached each concept in a totally different way.

Is there a common thread that pulls all of these ideas together?

It’s a surprisingly personal project.

The main idea here was to take things that were disparate and confusing and to try to put them together as something calm, seemingly cohesive, and in some ways even quiet. Basically a way of taking a million different complicated visual ideas and to churn them into something more manageable. I’ve moved around my entire life and have always had a very spur of the moment, freelance way of surviving, so I often need to make sense of that which is all over the place. This felt very much like a representation of this way of thinking and adapting. Every turn goes the corner coming together to make something that feels more structured.

a still from "17 small ideas" by andrew myers. shot of green park, people sitting in the park equidistant from each other.
A still from “17 Small Ideas” by Andrew Myers, 2020 Webby Winner for Weird. 

This project depicts 17 small, but impactful ideas shown as vignettes. What was your first idea?

The very first I had was of a large group of people in a park or public place being reordered to feel like they were all perfectly distanced, and that there could be a really strange and rigid choreography to those that were standing and moving. I at first thought of trying to get a vantage point from a building outside Coney Island, but I eventually settled on Central Park’s Sheep Meadow.

Over several weekends (sunny ones), I went and set up a camera and captured dozens of people sitting around, frolicking, etc and then painstakingly put it all together to feel like everyone naturally ordered that way. It has a new relevance now in this age of social distancing which I couldn’t have possibly foreseen.

What was the most challenging part about shooting and putting this piece together?

The most challenging part was the time involved! These probably took close to 8 months to shoot, not including the time it took to edit, add effects, and sound. I really wanted to make a project like this so keeping motivated while also not telling anyone I was working on something was pretty tough, but I was so excited to finally be done and to put it out into the world. I couldn’t have imagined I’d be so fortunate to win a Webby at the end of all of that!

A still of one vignette from “17 Small Ideas.”

 

See the work and planning that went into creating the vignette featured above.

What is one digital project or account that has inspired you recently?

My boyfriend and I became obsessed with the architecture of the city, which is something we’ve been able to really properly invest time in to explore during this crazy year. We geek out a lot during bike rides around town, and I’ve developed a new appreciation for brutalism, which was something I saw in a lot of schools and public buildings growing up in Canada. The Instagram account _di_ma has this never-ending stream of beautiful and interesting angles of these strange and monolithic looking buildings around the world. Ask me again next week and I’ll certainly have a new answer.

Covid-19 has drastically shaped the film and television industries. How have you adapted the ways in which you work?

I stayed in New York while everything intensified, and it’s been without a doubt an immense tragedy here that I can barely begin to comprehend. On a personal level, while staying safe, it’s been a small challenge in itself to try to understand this city when there isn’t access to the things most people would typically think are great about it.

There’s been nothing but time to observe and reflect, and it’s giving rise to a lot of new thinking. I’m not entirely sure what that means yet, but I suppose one insight I’ve had is that it’s ok to not necessarily understand your every next second. There are people who have things infinitely worse than I do during all of this so taking some time to breathe is ok. Creativity will always be here.

Another still from “17 Small Ideas” by Andrew Myers.

What did your Webby win mean to you?

This was a dream come true! To not only be nominated but also win was surreal and it was incredible to know that this weird little project I dedicated so much personal time to saw this kind of response. The one thing that’s too bad about it was that I would have loved to go to the event! Such is life during this strange year. It’s an honor to say the least.


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