Langley's Carla Mah is part of a team that has received a $10000 grant to produce the animation short, Witch Problems? The team, led by Alexandra Marriott with Mah as writer and producer and Rosaura Lezama as director, is one of the Top 10 finalists in the Telus competition, Storyhive.

Langley writer pens bewitching plot

$10,000 Storyhive grant awarded to local animation team to produce short film



She’s introverted, clumsy and socially awkward, with a talent for potion making, broomstick flying, levitation and incantations.

Sage, a Chinese-Canadian witch, is the star of a new animation short, Witch Problems?, one of 10 films in B.C and Alberta to receive a $10,000 grant from the Telus competition, Storyhive.

Led by Alexandra Marriott, with writing and production by Langley’s Carla Mah and direction by Rosaura Lezama, the team of three ladies have until May 26 to finish the two-to-five minute animated movie before it is uploaded to Telus Optik TV on Demand and online for the final round of voting.

Between June 5 and 9, the public can vote for their favourite film, which will be taken into account by a jury who will announce the winner the week of June 15. The winning team will then be awarded with customized career training and an opportunity to attend the 2017 Ottawa Animation Festival.

Witch Problems? follows Sage, a socially awkward modern witch in Vancouver who is attempting to make ends meet by decorating homes for TV Christmas movies — a job that Lezama actually does in real life.

“We are kind of blending the two personalities (of Lezama and Mah) and our experiences together into one character, which is really cool,” Mah said.

“(She’s) a character that I can relate to.

“She’s kind of like me, but kind of not … She’s socially awkward, and deals with different social anxieties.”

Part of Mah’s intrigue with this particular short is its portrayal of ethnic diversity.

“(Lezama’s) coming up with the whole world and the characters and the concept. But she really wanted somebody to help her write it out, because she’s very good at coming up with all of these ideas, but she had trouble putting it into a fully functioning script,” Mah explained.

“So then, her vision for this main character Sage, a Chinese-Canadian witch, (is something) she is very passionate about, and she said, ‘Ok I really want to find — I know this is a really big ask — a Chinese-Canadian female comedian (to be the writer).”

That’s where Mah came in. Although she works full time as a web and app developer, Mah has been doing acting and improv in Vancouver for the last five years, and went to school to be a 3D artist for video games.

“I was immediately like, ‘Yep, yep, I need to work on this. I can’t believe that this is a thing.’ Then it kind of all just started from there.”

This is the largest video project Mah has been a part of, and one that she says she felt drawn to.

“I’ve always been a big fan of animation, I always wanted to do it,” she said.

“Also, (the film) celebrates females, which is great, and that’s a thing that I feel is missing from this spectrum … There’s Sailor Moon, or there’s Power Puff Girls, or My Little Pony, but that’s for a younger audience. You don’t really see anything for an older audience.”

With this being the first time the Storyhive competition has offered an animation edition, the team has already had to do some rejigging of content. They had originally wanted to make a 10 minute bit, but when the guidelines for the contest came out, “that changed everything,” Mah said.

“Our target audience was more 18-35 (year old) adults. So we were like, ‘Oh OK so now we have to be creative and tone it down a bit.’

“It provided some new challenges but we were all ready for it. And we went through a couple of revisions and figured out how to structure it so that it really works for Storyhive.”

Witch Problems? will be available to view online in June. To find out more, go to http://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/1792.

Photo of Carla Mah by Karolina Turek