Sage is a socially awkward Chinese-Canadian witch with anxiety issues who dreams about becoming a film director.
She earns a living decorating homes for TV Christmas movies.
While navigating her way into the director’s chair she has to deal with her gung-ho boss Kish, who happens to be a centaur, and a young man named Jimmy, who has a poor work ethic and believes he should already be a famous actor.
Carla Mah, who was born and raised in Nanaimo, is co-producing the film Witch Problems? which tells Sage’s story.
The animated short film recently won funding through Telus’ StoryHive animation short film contest.
Mah, who is also a writer and voice actor for the film is completing the project with Alexandra Marriott, editor and producer, and Rosaura Lezama, producer, creator and director.
Mah moved to Vancouver in 2004 to attend the Art Institute of Vancouver to study game art and design.
When she graduated, she ended up working on casino gaming machines, but it didn’t satisfy her need for creativity and she started doing improv and sketch comedy.
Lezama was looking for a writer to partner with for her animation short film and a friend connected her with Mah.
Mah said Witch Problems? is a female-centric and ethnically diverse comedy.
The team recently attended a StoryHive event with the winners of the grant. Mah said there were very few women in the room, aside from themselves.
“This project, it means so much for us,” said Mah adding, especially because of the gender and ethnic diversity gap in the animation and film industry.
It’s nothing new to Mah, who said she was one of only three women in the game art and design program, but she is hoping it is going to change.
“We want to fill the gap that is missing,” said Mah. “A lot of animation out there is from the male perspective.”
She said recently there has been a lot of discussion about women working in films and the animation industry and about the lack of diversity.
“We have a responsibility as creators to start making this change that people are wanting to see, and so Witch Problems? was born,” said Mah.
She said it is a “beautiful thing” that Lezama has created.
“Our team is very diverse, female-orientated, with five out of eight team members being female, and very passionate about the message and the story we’re making for this animated short film,” said Mah. “A lot of love is going into this project.”
The animation films will enter the second phase of the contest in June. From June 5-9 people can vote each day to choose the winner. The winning animation short film team will win customized career training for its members and have the film shown at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which is held Sept. 20-24.