Humans vs. nature: 'Thunder Rises' explores conflict between wilderness and civilization - Albuquerque Journal

Humans vs. nature: ‘Thunder Rises’ explores conflict between wilderness and civilization

Evan Curtis is the mastermind behind the stop-motion short film “Thunder Rises,” which will screen as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16. (Courtesy of Evan Curtis)

Evan Curtis began filming the stop-motion animated film “Thunder Rises” in fall 2019.

He wanted to be filming in October and November to capture the exterior scenes.

“The actual process didn’t take too long, and I finished the outdoor scenes in less than three months,” he says. “I got some winter scenes in early 2020 and spent another month doing the interior scenes.”

Evan Curtis sets up a scene for his film. (Courtesy of Evan Curtis)

It took between four and five months to finish the four-minute film, which will screen at noon Saturday, Oct. 16, as part of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

“Thunder Rises” by Evan Curtis. (Courtesy of Evan Curtis)

“Thunder Rises” tell the story of conflict between wilderness and civilization. The expectation that wild creatures obey human law is displayed through the Hunter, the Wolf and its domesticated descendant, the Dog.

It is based on the true story of a fish and wildlife biologist tasked with exterminating a reintroduced wolf for feeding on livestock, as required by his state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

The film was shot on location in southwestern Colorado, although Curtis has ties to New Mexico, living in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.

“Thunder Rises” will be his first film to screen in Santa Fe.

He wrote the script while he was living in Santa Fe.

“That’s why the wolf, I went with a Southwestern Mexican wolf,” he says. “When I moved up to Grand Junction, Colorado, there are some reintroduced wolves there. I didn’t have to change most of my script.”

Evan Curtis had a puppeteer make the Southwestern Mexican Gray Wolf in the film “Thunder Rises.”

Curtis used to teach animation and film at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University.

He’s always been drawn to stop-motion animation.

“I’ve been a fan of toys and video games,” he says. “My leisure time was being in the woods and playing with action figures. That was one reason I went on the path I’m on. I studied 3D animation in the 2000s, and that’s what I’ve stuck with.”

Curtis will be at the screening on Saturday, Oct. 16.

He says that over the years, he’s learned to be patient while working on films.

“I don’t have patience outside of working in film,” he admits. “I’m pretty excited to come back to Santa Fe and be part of the festival.”


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