UArts Represents North America in Global Film Collaboration

November 9, 2021

University of the Arts students participated in Who Wants to Live Forever, a video collaboration with college students from four other continents, that was released in time for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, held Oct. 31 – Nov. 12, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. Throughout 2021, participating students collaborated with director and videographer Matteo Valenti—who created the video in conjunction with Brian May. In addition to being the renowned rock band Queen’s guitarist, May is co-founder of the Save Me Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to protect and advocate for wild animals. 

UArts was the only school in the U.S. to represent North America. The other participating colleges and universities included IED European Institute of Design, Milan, which represented Europe; Creatures Animation Hub, Kampala, which portrayed Africa; Griffith Film School, Brisbane, which depicted oceania; Tokyo Zokei University, which produced the Asia component; and Núcleo de Animação PUC, Rio de Janeiro, which addressed South America. The students’ animation was set to “Who Wants to Live Forever,” a 1986 Queen song. 

The UArts Animation students who participated were J Cella BFA ’21, Corrine Distefano BFA ’21, Kaenan Ericksen BFA ’21, Ebin Huston BFA ’21, Guisa Longasa BFA ’21, Reese MacDonald BFA ’21, Wren Martin ’22, Trevor McKeon BFA ’21, Naja Meeks ’21, Brandon Perez BFA ’21, Atesh Sakaraya BFA ’21, Sage Salvatore BFA ’21, Travis Swisher BFA ’21 and Angela Visconti BFA ’21. 

The North America section addresses pollution of water and land and deforestation and its effect on animals. 

At the time of the project’s inception, Karl Staven was serving as the Animation program’s director. He wrote about the project: “A random email arrived in my inbox offering up the potential opportunity to collaborate on a film with other universities around the world.” Staven jumped on the opportunity, incorporating it into UArts’ Client Animation class, in which students work with nonprofits to learn how to communicate with clients and create content in collaboration with them.

This incredible video, created by students from five continents, shows the devastation our precious planet faces. - Brian May, co-founder, Save Me Trust, and guitarist, Queen

Staven also wrote, “Students arrived on the first day with a 45-second clip from the music in hand and were given the task to generate ideas, which would be run through Matteo to finalize an approach. We formed two groups, water and land, led by students, who then saw through the realization and completion of the project.”

Angela Visconti, then a senior, was chosen by her peers to supervise the plastic and oil pollution section of the project. “It’s challenging being a supervisor, but it’s rewarding,” she said in 2020. “It’s really nice that we get to experience communicating as a team and as fellow animators. It’s great for confidence.”

UArts Animation students also joined a private, working Facebook group, so students could share their work across continents as it evolved. 

In a press release distributed at the outset of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Brian May and Save Me Trust co-founder Anne Brummer stated, “This incredible video, created by students from five continents, shows the devastation our precious planet faces. … World leaders are meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (Cop26), and it is essential they take heed and take actions now.”