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

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

Animator, teacher & motivator.

David (Chad) Bierdeman is a Character & Effect Animator and formerly an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University.

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.

You can see more of his work on his animation blog at
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