A Serendipitous Meeting
May 24, 2013
Andrew Saunderson B.A. ’08 didn’t come to Lewis & Clark planning to become a filmmaker. “I made stop-motion animations as a kid, but filmmaking had always been my brother’s dream,” Saunderson, now a professional film editor, says. “But once I took Stuart Kaplan’s Documentary Form class, I was hooked.”
It was through Kaplan that Saunderson met Brian Lindstrom. “We watched Kicking in class, and I asked Stuart if Brian was still in town, and if he could come and give a guest lecture.” Lindstrom agreed, screening Finding Normal for the class and speaking about Alien Boy, then in the very early stages of production.
“Andrew got very excited about what Brian was doing,” Kaplan says. Saunderson sought Lindstrom out after the lecture and, in what Lindstrom calls “one of those serendipitous moments that I think Lewis & Clark really specializes in,” joined the project as an intern.
“[Andrew’s] first task was to transform this Quonset hut out on 88th Avenue in Southeast Portland into a sound stage,” Lindstrom says. “It was an old, derelict storage area, but by the next day, Andrew had transformed it via the magic of a Shop-Vac into this clean, almost pristine environment.”
As production continued, Saunderson became steadily more involved, as editor and coproducer of the film. “I pretty much did everything at one point or another,” he says. “It was like film school.”
Saunderson’s most visible contribution to the film is the animation of James Chasse Jr.’s drawings from his self-published magazine, the Oregon Organizm. He says the animations were “a great opportunity to have Jim’s humor and personality come to life,” adding warmth and levity to the sometimes grim story of Chasse’s life.
Saunderson continued working with Lindstrom during the film’s stalled periods, editing Writing Myself and assisting with the production of To Pay My Way With Stories. “Brian has been such a mentor,” he says. “I feel lucky to have fallen in with him.”
“Andrew is into film for all the right reasons,” Lindstrom says. “And what I mean by that is that he’s selfless and incredibly talented, and that’s such a wonderful combination and so rare.”
With Alien Boy finished, Saunderson is looking beyond documentary film, developing a script for his first narrative feature. He’s also contributed to projects by other filmmakers from Lewis & Clark. “I don’t have a business card, I don’t have a website. Everything I’ve done I’ve gotten through word of mouth,” he says. “I try to help out alumni as much as I can.”