Although she graduated from Allen High School earlier this year, Alexandra Parker still encountered a milestone moment in October when she and fellow students went to the All American High School Film Festival in New York City.
At this year’s festival, Parker and her classmates - Priscilla Diaz, Joshua Higgs, Jordyn Tyber, Danielle Winans, Brendan Ball, Ethan Marr, Brianna Capps, Deeandra Mendoza, Ethan Price, Madison Adkison, Jonah Starnes and Melanie Schwartz – received accolades and Teen Indie Award nominations for the animated short film “Cosmic Melody.”
What drew you to animation as an artistic medium?
I always liked watching cartoons as a kid, mostly animated movies from Disney’s golden age (Aristocats, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, etc.) My mom would always put up Looney Toons and Tom & Jerry cartoons for me and my brother. I think the influence from that and other types of animation like Aardman’s stop motion films inspired me to make characters of my own that could do different things, like the kinds I always saw on the screen. I picked up the pencil to practice myself with simple cartoon drawings, and that evolved into animation as my understanding of character design evolved.
How did Cosmic Melody happen, and how did you get involved in its creation?
Interestingly enough, Cosmic Melody was originally a page of sketches and notes that my old director of a student film had made, and she was looking for people to help out with it after we had finished our first film in animation class. A little later into Cosmic Melody’s development, I was asked if I wanted to take part and design a whale character that would appear later in the film. I agreed and designed the whale for Cosmic Melody as a rough sketch, which grew in its own concept and I further cooperated with bits and pieces of the film until I was finished.
How was the All American High School Film Festival?
It was a pretty amazing experience. New York in and of itself was such an inspiring place to be, and I enjoyed accompanying my teammates as we watched our film premiere not only at the AMC theater, but also at the SVA Theatre for the Best of Best and even nominate for the teen indie award for the Best of Animation. I think I grew a lot more connected and confident in the animation community in seeing everyone’s hard work and enjoyment show through each film.
Are there any other achievements that you’re really proud of?
I’m pretty proud of graduating high school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around that time I was moving to different states and schools in accordance with my dad’s career as a lawyer, so it got difficult sometimes managing my connections with people and friends. I’m proud of my ability to read, write and draw in general, and how I’ve advanced in story writing and concept art.
Are you a native Texan? (Where from?)
I’m not exactly a native Texan, as I’ve only been living in the state for about three years or so, but I’ve lived in other places such as California and Colorado. I grew up in Washington State until I was about 10 when I moved for the first time.
What are your favorite local restaurants?
A few of my favorites are Torchy’s Tacos, Marufuku Ramen, Saltlight Station and Mellow Mushroom.
What are some of your go-to comfort movies and TV shows?
I always like to go back and rewatch The Powerpuff Girls show from 1998 every now and then. Its jokes still hold up today and the characters are all interesting. It’s one of my favorite shows alongside Chowder and The Amazing World of Gumball.
What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy playing acoustic guitar when I have the time, as well as reading and coming up with storyboards. I also enjoy playing video games on the Switch and my Nintendo 3DS. I’m not particularly good though, I just stick to platformers and sandbox games with a good story to them.
Tell our readers about your family.
I’d love to.
My parents are the most supportive and loving people I know, and they’ve seen me through a lot as I’ve grown up. I can’t thank them enough for all the advice they’ve given me and the time they’ve spent to help me achieve my goals, and I wouldn’t be the person I am without their guidance in my life. My brother has always been a good friend, and I’m very grateful for him. He takes a lot of inspiration from me as an artist himself, and he’s even taking some animation courses in high school. I’m excited to see what he ends up working on, and since I never directed any films myself, I’m hoping that he’ll get the chance to direct and produce his own student film.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want people to remember me as someone who wanted desperately to stand out with their artwork and stories. Everything I do in terms of character design is out of a very deep place of humanity that I rarely share with other people, and I want to be able to improve my own skills so that I can hopefully find a place for myself and be reaffirmed that what I do and how I do it isn’t cookie-cutter.