I Am Arbor is a film that captures the beauty and tragedy of Trees in our civilization, which are going through tragic transformations due to rapid urbanization. Perhaps for the first time, this short movie has created a narrative that is anchored on the feelings and emotions of Trees, their existence as families, and their collective contribution to human existence. The movie blends live action and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), to merge real and imaginary worlds; all of which comes together to create a touching story.
The film is a product of a childhood influence coupled with children’s literature. The director’s mother had a dream in which she claimed that she dreamt of a Tree, where the leaves, flowers and branches appeared as real-life characters- as though they were members of a grand family. She could hear them talk, laugh, smile and dance. This prompted research, leading the creator to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. In this children’s book, there is a symbiotic relationship between an ever-giving tree and a human boy. Further research, lead to the movie The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, which explains the need for Trees in an imaginary town of plastics and metals.
I Am Arbor portrays an engaging and emotional friendship between a child and a Tree transporting viewers to an imaginary world of happiness, celebration, and joy; only to lead to a very tragic end where the protagonist becomes the antagonist as time passes and modern compulsions of society take over.
This supporting thesis document narrates the incredible journey that has been undertaken in making this movie, including navigating the difficult terrains of a complex project -such as live action and CGI. This paper attempts to discuss the triumphs and tribulations at every stage of this journey, explaining the process, the lessons learned, the compromises and most importantly the experience of a film maker freshly minted out of a graduate program with all its scholastic trainings.
While this paper attempted to discuss the stages of this movie, it also includes the dilemmas faced during the crossroads throughout the creative process, documenting the choices made by the creator as they shouldered most of the work with colleagues and partner constituents. This project would not have been possible without the air cover of Mark Reisch, Thesis Chair; Thomas Gasek, Thesis Committee; and David Sluberski, Thesis Committee. Their inspiration and constant encouragement served as emotional fodder without which this project would have remained an unfulfilled dream. In the language of the core sentiment of the movie, the Director said, “I can only say that I am here today, simply because my professors, colleagues, partners and parents "Let me be there.”
Film and Animation (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Film and Animation (CAD)
Sengupta, Anannya, "I Am Arbor" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus