ATEC seniors produce celestial film

‘Nightshift’ explores childhood, adventure, yearning

Calis Lim
Mercury Staff

ATEC’s Animation Lab will be wrapping up production of a short film called “Nightshift” in December, a project over a year in the making.

“Nightshift” follows a little girl named Hannah as she awaits the presence of someone or something. During that time, she is approached by a “moon woman” and embarks on a journey: an adventure of flying and playing in the sky.

During the spring of 2019, there was an open call for students to share stories about a designated theme: childhood. This was when current director of “Nightshift” Nicole Solis – an ATEC senior with a design and production minor – pitched her story and got selected.

“Essentially, the whole short is called “Nightshift” because it’s based off of the feeling that I would feel whenever my dad would go work his job as a night shift nurse,” Solis said. “He would be gone during the night working, and then during the day I would see him for a little bit, but then he would have to go to sleep in order to work the next night, so that’s where that started.”

When Solis pitched her story, current co-director Alyssa Fontanilla, an ATEC senior, realized that she had a similar childhood experience.

“When I first heard Nicole’s pitch, it resonated with me so deeply,” Fontanilla said. “My mom actually worked night shifts growing up – and she still does – while my dad works dayshifts. So I had a lot of that kind of feeling of like missing her. I would see her for an hour in the transition period between nighttime and daytime when she goes to work.”

After the pitch was selected, Solis and Fontanilla focused on creating a meaningful message in the story.

“We have that fantasy sequence and we were trying to really pull on the playfulness: the idea of a child playing with their parent,” Fontanilla said. “We also wanted to make sure that there is that comfortable, sweet ending moment where a family is all together and you feel very in the moment and very complete, like nothing else in the world could possibly go wrong. And I think trying to capture that vision as well as the playful energy and the feeling of waiting for someone is something that all of our artists are working really hard on trying to keep in the short.”

Solis and Fontanilla spent fall 2019 developing the story and characters, laying down the foundation of the short and figuring out what it would look like, Solis said.

It wasn’t until around spring 2020 when Solis and Fontanilla started to work with other students on turning the concept into reality. Solis said this short is important not only because of the sheer amount of effort that the team has put in but also because it’s a heartwarming story that’s very dear to her and many other people in the crew.

“Don’t be afraid to tell the stories that you want to tell,” Solis said.