Alumni Blog: Andrew Swartley Cohen

Andrew Cohen may have graduated 30 years ago, but he’s never stopped learning about –or having fun with — visual storytelling.

The Last Time

by Andy Cohen, Class of ’79

I have a long commute. A sixty-minute train excursion to the city and another thirty-minute jaunt to Brooklyn via the A train gives me a great deal of “me” time. The reverse trip is the same except that I am frequently tired and in a less-than-a-congenial frame of mind. It was under these conditions, during my commutation, that I began writing a short story about a poor, unfortunate former-one-percenter.

Utilizing a brand new iPad, I wrote the first draft quickly from beginning to end. I then spent the next several weeks looking up each word I’d written in a thesaurus, trying to convey the protagonist’s feelings, giving insight into his character.

Once I was satisfied with the story, I made an audio recording of it using GarageBand and included music and sound fx. Then I realized it was time to animate.  It took me about 100 hours using ToonBoom Studio and Photoshop.

I send the video out to friends every new year’s eve. I hope you enjoy it.

I graduated from SVA in 1979 with a BFA in Film. Since graduating I worked with a variety of small production companies till 1998 when I began teaching visual arts, (film, and digital media) at Brooklyn Friends School.  During my tenure at Friends, I transitioned from a classroom teacher into IT, communications and marketing. My title is Director of Media Services and Director of the Bridge Film Festival.  As part of my work, in 2000 I founded the Bridge Film Festival. The festival is for student-made films from Friends’, (Quaker) educational institutions worldwide.
Since the advent and advancement of digital media, I view all audio and visual digital media as pretty much the same thing, or rather interchangeable to varying degrees. I know because I have the danger of being a “Jack of All and Master of None” but this is the world we live in, and I like it.
My experience at SVA continues to have a profound affect on my career. The teachers and student colleagues there taught me independence, creativity, resilience, determination, perseverance and the importance of collaboration. I wish I had a yearbook to remember all the great teachers. I remember Richard Pepperman, Ellen Hovde, Reeves Lehman by name but I also recall terrific acting, photography, film history and cinematography instructors too. Ironically enough, I never took animation.

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