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Tin House Reels: Alix Lambert & Jennifer R. Morris

This week’s installment of Tin House Reels takes you back to a time of imaginary friends and their place at the family dinner table.

The Imaginary Friend Project: Polish Kershaw, created by Alix Lambert & Jennifer R. Morris, arose out of a seminar Jennifer taught at Emerson College with her theatre company, The Civilians. “I helped them create an interview based theatre piece around the topic of home, “Jennifer told me, “and one of the questions the students came up with was, ‘Did you have an imaginary friend?’ I found their answers to be funny and strangely poignant. I wanted to create a series dedicated to preserving the memory of people’s real life imaginary friends.”

Jennifer then enlisted her fellow Civilian, Alix Lambert, to direct and co-create this series, which began by interviewing numerous subjects on the topic of long lost friends who just happened to be invisible to everyone else.

The first person featured in their series is Samuel Roukin.

“I was his bride’s Maid of Honor,”Jennifer explained. “At the rehearsal dinner, his brother’s toast was a letter from Sam’s long lost imaginary friend, Polish Kershaw. Apparently, Polish didn’t actually die when Sam shot her through the eye. She recovered and currently lives outside London. We had just started this project so, naturally, we cornered Sam for an interview.”

The unique look of the film, which reminds one of going through an old shoebox and pulling out faded postcards and images cut out from children’s periodicals, was created by animator Joe Alterio.

About his technical process, Joe says: “I took images: some were Creative Commons images I found online, others were images I made myself, and, if necessary, “aged” them and added things like halftone patterns. The series is really about memories, both real and invented, and using the physical evidence of decaying nostalgia was important to the look. I then animated them all in AfterEffects.”

The result is a film that not only allows you to bask in the memory of a stranger, but brings to the surface your own friends that you might have tucked under the bed or sent off on an adventure so many years ago.


Alix Lambert’s feature length documentary The Mark of Cain was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, received an honorable mention from the French Association of Journalism, and aired on Nightline. She went on to produce additional segments of Nightline as well as 7 segments for the PBS series LIFE 360. She has directed two other feature length documentaries: Bayou Blue (with David McMahon) and Mentor.She has directed numerous shorts and music videos including “You As You Were” for the band Shearwater (Sub Pop) and “Tiffany” (POV). Lambert wrote Episode 6, season 3 of Deadwood, “A Rich Find” (for which she won a WGA award) and was a staff writer and associate producer on John From Cinicinnati. She is currently in residence at The McColl Center For The Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jennifer R. Morris is a writer/producer/actor. She just finished a run of Mr. Burns at Playwrights Horizons, which was named one of the “10 best shows of 2014” by the New York Times.  Jennifer is a founding member of the OBIE award-winning theatre company, The Civilians. Her most recent piece with The Civilians (of which she wrote and conceived), YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: tales from my parents’ divorce, is an interactive theatre piece that had digital partnerships with WNYC and the Huffington Post. Jennifer wrote and hosted shows on TV Food Network and WE and has created digital projects for ABC/Disney, Fremantle Media, and FMX.  The short she produced, “Tiffany,” directed by Alix Lambert, aired on PBS.  Most recently she co-produced the feature length documentary, Mentor, also directed by Ms. Lambert. She received her MFA from UCSD.

Tin House Reels is a weekly feature on The Open Bar dedicated to the craft of short filmmaking. Curated by Ilana Simons, the series features videos by artists who are forming interesting new relationships between images and words.

We are now accepting submissions for Tin House Reels. Please upload your videos of 15 minutes or less to Youtube or Vimeo and send a link of your work to tinhousereels@gmail.com. You may also send us a file directly.
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