Premiering at SXSW in 2012, Evan Viera’s dark animation Caldera is the tale of young girl who finds her life in a precarious position after taking measures into her own hands. Realizing she can not live in either the fantastical and haunting world of psychosis or in the marginalizing society that mandates her medication, Caldera takes its protagonist on a journey into a dreamlike world as she attempts to deal with her psychotic disorder.
Inspired by his father’s struggle with schizoaffective disorder, in which his delusional episodes saw him dance on the rings of Saturn, speak with angels, and flee from demons, Viera’s deeply personal film attempts to explore the battles faced by those striving to live with their afflictions, as they try to find their place in society and deal with the effects of medication.
Set in both a bleak metropolis and a mysterious oceanic cove, Caldera visually juxtaposes the two worlds (medicated and unmedicated) with a clever use of color and light. The industrial city is heavily fogged with smoggy greys subtly numbing the audience, whilst the hallucinatory bay gently revives them with ethereal light and calming blue tones.
Production on Viera’s short began almost five years ago, in the summer of 2008, when he started the writing process with fellow Hampshire College alumnus Chris Bishop. The responsibilities of their teaching positions saw the pair initially struggle to devote time to the creation of Caldera and it quickly became apparent they didn’t have the necessary resources to complete their project. A successful Kickstarter campaign helped them raise essential funds for the short, whilst the launch of the Computer Graphics Incubator Program at Hampshire College granted them access to the required equipment and facilities, a partnership which not only allowed them to complete their powerful short, but which also provides a model for future student/artist collaboration.
Taking on the roles of director, composer, co-writer and co-producer on Caldera, Viera is obviously a talented and ambitious filmmaker who likes to be involved in as many areas of production as possible. Determined to make films strong in both message and style, the director’s latest short demonstrates a marked progression from his university films Sycamore Eve and Silhouette and succeeds in helping him make the transition from student filmmaker to industry director.