Eileen O’Meara was born to draw.
In fact, what makes her most happy is when she can draw and make a film.
It took longer than normal for her to complete her latest animated short film, “Panic Attack.”
The film will screen as part of the animated shorts block of films at the Las Cruces International Film Festival today.
The film is a hand-drawn animation from the point of view of a woman having a panic attack.
“I wanted the transitions between reality and her imagined fears to be seamless, so there are no edits,” O’Meara says. “It is one continually transforming drawing.”
O’Meara says it took a long time to complete because she had a day job.
“I would start it and I would get the idea down,” she says. “Then I’d get a job and put it away for a while. Then six months later, I would get it out again. I worked on it in little bits and pieces. I was planning on shooting the film, and by the time I finished, there weren’t any more animation film cameras in Los Angeles that I could use. So I had to scan it and put it together by hand. Technology moves on without me.”
Before “Panic Attack,” O’Meara worked on her hand-drawn films “Agnes Escapes From the Nursing Home” and “That Strange Person.”
She produced and directed commercial spots for clients including HBO, UNICEF and Motown, and received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council and Women in Film Foundation.
On this project, she worked with sound mixer and consultant Tim Maloney.
He has created films for the experimental band Negativland, the Walt Disney Co., Cat-Head Theatre, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“Working with Tim helped me put the finishing touches on the film,” she says. “I wanted to do this film to give viewers a different perspective on panic attacks. Some people really enjoy it. Others will tell me that I’ve given them a panic attack.”
O’Meara studied art at University of Notre Dame and then went to film school at the University of Southern California.
Her interest was in live action, but she eventually was drawn to the animation department.
“It incorporated my past interest in art,” she says. “Short film has always been something I wanted to do. I like having the choices all be mine. It’s a balance for me. With a client, I am doing what they want. When I get to do my films, it’s all for me.”
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