The Creation Poem

 The Creation Poem (film in progress)

A contemporary reimagining of James Weldon Johnson's black gospel poem as an animated short film. 


The Project

The scope of The Creation Film Project is to yield an 8-minute fully animated film based on James Weldon Johnson's iconic poem, accompanied by spoken-word performance and original musical score.

The inspiration for this project comes from a uniquely American poem that imagines the first chapters of the book of Genesis as a powerful Black Gospel sermon. James Weldon Johnson's The Creation Poem captures both the majestic power on display at the inception of the universe and a Creator's poignant desire for intimacy that ultimately leads to the creation of humankind.

My hope is that the finished film will encourage a respect for human dignity that transcends racial and cultural identity, and perhaps inspire its audience to steward the whole of Creation, regardless of religious or political affiliation.


In Progress Animation Teaser

Early animation tests and some scenes in progress. 

Music composed by Ewart Williams www.ewartwilliams.com


Visual Development

Concept images as we continue to explore the look and feel of the final film


Story Panels

Thumbnail story panels of key moments in the film



Central Michigan University, FRCE Research Grant

Last May I was awarded the Faculty Research and Creative Endeavors: Research Grant from Central Michigan University to support the production of The Creation Poem as an eight-minute animated film adaptation of the black gospel poem by James Weldon Johnson.


The Artists

The artists who have signed on to bring the creation project to life.

Stephan Leeper

Creator, Director, Story Artist , Layout and Animation 

Storyteller, Animator & Educator

Stephan Leeper is the founding professor of two established Animation Programs and is currently teaching animation, story and filmmaking at Central Michigan University.

Steve has produced award-winning short films using stop-motion puppets, pixilation, digital cut-outs and drawn animation. Steve started his career as a freelance animator and model-maker in Chicago while leading workshops for the Chicago Children's International Film Festival. Steve went on to Big Idea Productions where he led the 3D Layout team contributing to many videos including Jonah: a VeggieTales Movie


David Chandler Bierdeman

Concept Design and Effects Animation

FX Animator, Teacher & Motivator.

David (Chad) Bierdeman is an Effect Animator for Jam-Filled Entertainment in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Chad has nearly a decade of experience contributing to award winning short films and working commercially as an effects and character animator. Chad has worked at Sky Vu and Copernicus Animation serving clients such as Disney XD, Amazon Prime, and Nickelodeon. Formerly Chad taught animation as an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University,

You can see more of his work on his animation blog at https://cbier.blogspot.com/


Ewart Williams

Composer and Musical Consultant

Performer, Musician & Composer

Ewart Williams was born in Guyana, South America, immigrated to Canada in '69 and is currently living in the United States. In '77 Ewart moved to Toronto to work in the film industry where he shared the stage with Billy Preston, Cher and other luminaries.

In recent years Ewart continues to perform regularly while expanding on his original compositions available for placement in media productions and the general public.

You can hear Ewart's original compositions at www.ewartwilliams.com/


Bettina "Poet Gold" Wilkerson

Voice over Artist and Consultant 

Poet, Performer, and Community "Artivist"

Bettina "Poet Gold" Wilkerson pushes the boundaries of poetry and spoken word. 

Appointed the 2017 and 2018 NYS Dutchess County Poet Laureate, Poet Gold is the recipient of numerous awards. With countless recitations, she has opened for Grammy-nominated artists and has spoken at renowned organizations such as Omega Institute and Self Employment in the Arts.

Poet Gold is an activist of the heart. Her words inspire to explore the essence of humanity. To learn more about "Poet Gold" visit one of her pages in social media:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/poetgoldbgw

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/481-peter-and-the-poet-gold-30383287/


Chelsea Dunham

Environment Design and Animation

2D Animator, Story Artist and CMU Animation BFA Senior

Chelsea is a 2D animator with an interest in storyboarding, layout, and concept design. After graduating, she will continue to grow her portfolio, strengthen her skill sets, and plans to apply to 2D animation studios as a storyboard artist or animator.

Chelsea has been the story lead on "Rise of the Phoenix" - Hell's Half Mile Festival Bumper and "Dress Coded" - a PSA focused on double standards against women. As well as production partner on the micro-shorts "Pandora's Box" - micro-short and "Wrecked".

You can see more of Chelsea's work at https://chelseadunham.webnode.page/


Stephanie Shaw

Character Design and Animation

2D Animator, Character Designer and CMU Animation BFA Senior

"Shaw" is a 2D animator and character designer from Detroit MI. She passionate about cartoons, storytelling, and making characters come to life. . . and spending time with friends, family and her menagerie of small animals.

Significant projects Shaw has worked on to date include "Rise of the Phoenix" - Hell's Half Mile Festival Bumper, "Wrecked" - micro-short project, and "Dress Coded" - a PSA focused on double standards against women.

You can see more of Shaw's work at https://stephaniesue2000.wixsite.com/


Demi Huertas-Romero

Colorist & Concept Artist

Color, Character & Concept Artist, CMU Animation BFA Senior

Demi has a flair for color, a love for cartoons and a passion for people. Her interests include character creation, concept design, and color scripting. Someday she would like to author her own animated series.

Significant projects Demi has worked on to date include "Rise of the Phoenix" - Hell's Half Mile Festival Bumper, "Man Nipples" - micro-short project, and "Scales" - a PSA focused on positive body image.

You can see more of Demi's work at https://huertasromerodemi.wixsite.com


steve@jsleeper.com
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