Directed by Alex Wager, School of Visual Arts

A light bulb searches for his mom.

Interview with Director Alex Wager

Q: What inspired the storyline of Juxtaposed?

“Juxtaposed” is basically a visual depiction of my own experiences with adoption.  I grew up as a Korean Adoptee (adopted at 4 months from S. Korea) with caucasian parents upstate in outside of Albany in a very small poe-dunk town where I was one of  a very small group of ethnic minorities.  A lot of Adoptees grow up with questions about their birth parents and families and it gets rather confusing for them in regards to “who’s my real mother?” “who loves me more?” etc.  Through my film i essentially wanted to address these issues and give my own opinion on the matter.  It’s loosely based on the anonymous poem “Legacy of an Adopted Child.”  I took the first and last lines of the poem and then created a middle story for it.  The poem hung over my bed when I was younger so that’s what really initially sparked all of this! (you can read the poem here:

Q: Did you write the opening lines? “For those I’ve lost, for those I’ve found, and for those I hope to rediscover.”

I did actually write those three lines in the beginning.  Working on this film was a lot more of an emotional process than I expected.  I got the chance to intern in Korea at an adoption center last summer for one month and it gave me a lot of perspective on the matter and helped me really fine tune the film.  The story was pretty delicate in the sense that I didn’t want to give the wrong impression on who I felt was the “real mother.”  The three lines I wrote were basically towards all the people that have placed some sort of imprint on me; My birth mother, my adoptive mother, my family, I had just gotten out of a long relationship, friends I’d lost, etc.  I wanted people to know I was thinking about them I guess.

Q: How do you start creating an animated film? With a story, a character, a drawing?

I think starting an animated film or any type of film for that matter, really depends on what comes to you first!  For this film the story came first, for my next film the setting came first, for my friends sometimes the characters/design came first.  You don’t really know what will turn into an idea or not; everything effects each other directly.  I mean, I wouldn’t have told this story with drawings of bloody monsters b/c it would have been really inappropriate hahaha.

Q: What do you think the value is of a short film and short film festivals?

I think short films are a really great challenge to write.  You have to tell a story in a very small amount of time and you really need to deliver.  The audience knows the film will be short so they want things to keep them interested- they get bored much quicker in a short film and start wondering “when will something happen?” or “this is just a fight scene?” things like that.  But when they’re done right, it can have even more of an impact on someone than a feature length film whether it’s a comedic or dramatic piece.  Everything is like instant gratification you know?  Plus they’re cheaper to make haha!!  Short film festivals are a great way to showcase new talent and see a lot of impressive work all at once.  It gives you a taste of the artist in a matter of minutes and opens you up to things you may not have liked before.

  • View Comments
  • kim

    i love this.

  • Kathy

    Very creative

  • Kathleen

    I loved the film! It was very inspiring and informative as an adoptive Mother.

  • Nikki

    A beautifully illustrated, and gently voiced, way of explaining and resolving a deeply troubling issue that affects many children in their childhood and many throughout their lives.

  • Wanda


  • G

    Animation is beautiful in itself, but when there is story that equals in beauty, that is when animation becomes adventure =D beautifully done!

  • Joe

    I loved this, it was very creative and was an excellent story. I was however, a little confused at the end. If it was his mother all along, how was he adopted?

  • Steve

    absolutely beautiful. and very moving. loved it!

  • may

    great work alex!!!! i’m so impressed! you are quite talented!

  • Brad

    Great story, beautiful animation!
    -Joe- I think the story is trying to say that the woman who pulled him out of the water was actually his adoptive mother but he thought it was his birth mother.

  • Michelle

    Congratulations! It is beautifully done.

  • Carole

    Very well done, realistic, very touching story.

  • Wanda M.

    I think this will speak to the hearts of many adopted children as well as their parents. Beautifully done and great narration.

  • Tina

    Alex’s film is moving and beautiful. Bravo.

  • jenna

    your film is really great and the animation is just gorgeous. in addition to the excellent craft, the story it incredibly moving and the narrator’s soft-spoken tone adds to the overall feel. this one is just great in every aspect. great direction. great thoughts.

  • GramercyGal

    This was a wonderful and beautiful film, a sure winner!

  • Mick B

    Beautiful. Bravo Alex!

  • Alex T

    This is beautiful! I cant figure out how to vote, it wont let me vote.

  • Jenna

    I found I had issues voting through firefox – try Safari or another browser

  • jake

    i’m pretty jealous how cool this is.

  • Betty F.

    Absolutely beautiful, sensitive and so well done.
    The narrator’s voice is perfect for this very
    moving short. Congratulations…well done.

  • Joy

    Aside from the stunning technical skills and execution, this film has the most well thought out and touching storyline of all the films.

  • Berdian Torres

    I saw this short! it is very wonderful and strong in meaning.

  • Bob Raymonda

    As a graphic designer I enjoyed the animation technique, but as an adoptive father, I am moved beyond words. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional struggles an adopted child deals with throughout their life. I hope to do the best by my son and wish for him your deep introspect.

  • Roseann Izquierdo

    nice job alex! good luck!

    ( robby and anna’s mom from mugigae!)

  • emily

    I’m sorry to disagree with all the other comments, but while I found the story to be quite moving, its delivery was pretty lacking. Personally.. I thought the narration was too slow and cliche in its approach, the anime-style and design of the characters didn’t appeal to me, and aside from the little light bulb bouncing around in a few of the shots, there was hardly any actual animation – just a lot of camera panning and fading to white or black.

    I can appreciate the choice of subject matter – it is undoubtedly a really sensitive issue, and kudos to the director for trying to tackle something that affects a lot of children and their families – but that alone doesn’t make a great film or piece of animation.

  • Jenna

    Emily, I have to disagree with you. The subject matter chosen needs to be presented and approached in a delicate matter. There is no reason to pull out all the stops just because you can. It takes the work of a very smart and talented artist to know when to hold back – and this is one of those times. The narration was exactly right for this story and the look and feel of the film. I really believe it hit the mark in every way.

  • Cindy

    Alex – I thoroughly enjoyed watching this short. It moved me to tears. What an amazing way to share this truth of yours. Congratulations!

  • Aviddancer

    Alex, you got my vote! Incredible artwork! Creative and unconventional. That comes down to : some people may not take it well. Love your artwork! Good luck!

  • R. Kurt Osenlund

    Beautiful, inspiring, charming and profound. My mother is adopted and constantly struggles with the notion of pursuing her birth parents. I’m looking forward to showing her this short.

  • Katie Madonna

    I cried when I saw this at film festival. It is truly beautiful and heart felt.

  • Lisa

    WOW, that was a close race to the end! Congrats! Love this short!!!

  • Me

    oh plssss.. the other should have won… boring..

  • Rick

    ok “me”, get over it. both films were good hence the tight race. they each had different things that made them stand out, but the story in this one was very touching. it is going to be great on pbs and maybe we could just congratulate everyone on a job well done rather than bitterness.

    loved this film.

  • Bill

    Nice story, nicely done and well narrated.

  • Matt

    Well done Alex!

  • James

    That was very heartfelt i really enjoyed it.

  • Luca C.

    Truly incredible work. Great animation, artwork, sound and story. Well done, I really enjoyed everything in it.

  • Anthony B.

    This is Excellent!!! i have 2 say im a portrait artist myself and I really enjoy the time and labor you have spent on this. The animation, sound and storyline is filled with creative thinking. Keep it up man just remember us artist have no limit what so ever!!!

  • Abby

    This is fantastic. I love the story, characters and animation style. I love everything about it! Great work.

  • Rob

    From one adoptee to another…
    Much respect for doing this film.


    I loved it… very touching and emotional. Well done!

  • Jane

    Evocative and lyrical, this piece sensitively works with feelings and impressions and is visually powerful. Super work!

  • genuh

    the narration was really annoying… a great film for kinder garden children. maybe if I was high on some H it wouldn’t feel so boring and dragged out.

  • Johanna

    Looks like a wonderful short!

  • Toni

    WONDERFUL!!! Touching and thought provoking. Beautiful animation. So talented.