SVA Film & Animation

Student Blog: Jake Kaplan

Thesis student Jake Kaplan (BFA Animation, 2017) & Sonia Foltarz (BFA Animation, 2017) are going where no thesis student has gone before: virtual reality.


Last year Sonia Foltarz and I were both in a humanities course called The Art of the Lie, which focused around the lies we live with on a daily basis. Sonia brought in a piece of artwork that was inspired by her personal story of living a double-life as a male video game character. She found that pretending to be a man online resulted in other gamers taking her more seriously. I shared a similar story about how I collected Polly Pocket dolls as a child, but hid them under my bed in fear of my guy friends discovering how much I enjoyed playing with them. We both wanted to explore gender roles in our thesis projects so we decided to create a thesis film together.


I knew I wanted to work in animation since the first time I watched a cartoon on TV. For the past two summers I worked as a production intern at Warner Bros. Animation in Los Angeles. While at WB, I learned the importance of a strong production schedule and budget. I also operated as the president of QueerSVA, experienced and heard many stories of how it feels to not be included in the heteronormative narrative. I am excited to bring both of these experiences to the table while making this thesis film. While in LA, I learned how rapidly the world of entertainment is evolving. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment recently announced the upcoming interactive game called Batman: Arkham VR. I’ve found many animation studios are beginning to explore the hype of VR storytelling, and am excited to be on the frontier of this amazing new technology.


This entire generation is defined by how advanced technology has become a part of their everyday life. More and more, we are beginning to see how art and technology can work together. In this case, Sonia and I will not just be able to share our story visually. They will be able to fully immerse the viewer in the world of their creation.

Our project has quickly become much more than just a student film. It has become an opportunity to change the idea of what we consider a thesis film; an opportunity to, for the first time ever, explore the incredible world of Virtual Reality within the realm of Film & Animation at the School of Visual Arts.


Bringing “ACE” to life was not an easy task. However, with the support of our school, our advisors, our friends and family, and, most importantly, each other; Sonia and I have created two works of art that we are incredibly proud of: ACE, the theatrical film, as well as ACE, the virtual reality experience. Both of these projects premiere Sunday, May 7th at the 28th annual Dusty Film & Animation Festival. Both of these projects challenge the importance society places on gender roles while also telling a delightfully twisted story of two people trapped in a nightmarish circus. We hope to see you there.


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Jake Kaplan

Filed Under: Student Blog