Sean Schleifer, a Sterling resident, was recently named one of the top-10 finalists in the Nintendo Short Cuts competition for his short film "The Last Wii." See the film at www.nintendoshortcuts.com.
Number of years in the community: I've lived in Sterling all my life. All 23 years.
Family: No kids, I’ve got awhile to go till that happens though. I'm happily dating my girlfriend, Melissa. My mom’s name is Karen, my dad’s name is Barry and I have two younger brothers named Dustin and Joey.
Education: I graduated from Park View High School in Sterling. Art and science were my favorite classes. In high school, I took an Auto CADD (Computer-aided design and drafting) class. I thought it was a full fledge 3-D animation class but I ended up creating simple 2-D designs of screws and bolts. It was pretty boring. One day I was messing around with the computer and found a program called 3-D Studio Max. I self-taught myself the program, then one day the teacher caught me messing around on it and was impressed with what I made so he let me skip the work we were doing and allowed me to create 3-D animations on the computer. After high school, I went to the Art Institute of Washington, D.C., to get a degree in media arts and animation. I got my hands into film editing, photography, graphic design 3-D and motion graphics. I ended up having my work displayed for the best of class at the annual Industry SIGGRAPH convention.
Your first job: I worked at Redskins training camp for my first job. It was a summer job but it was really cool. I got to work in this section of the training camp called NFL Experience. It was like a fun boot camp course with football-related sections. One section could have you kicking field goals while another part could have you diving into the end zone off a moon bounce. Plus it was awe-inspiring seeing the NFL players drive into the parking lot with their $100,000 cars.
Current job/primary occupation: I was recently working at Toys 'R' Us while doing freelance on the side, however, I currently just started working at Myer Emco Audio Video.
Activities/interests/hobbies? I'm always creating something, from touching up photos, filming, creating 3-D animations, to even making music. Video games of course are a hobby of mine. Random fact: I also collect work uniforms from various companies, from a postal shirt all the way to a Pizza Hut uniform. It’s a weird hobby of mine. I can't really explain it.
Favorite local restaurant or place in the community? There’s this mom-and-pop restaurant called Virginia Kitchen in Herndon my friend introduced me to. It's has a nice, homey atmosphere.
What are your community concerns? What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community? My biggest concern is growth. Yes, growth is a good thing but too much of a good thing can be bad. Everywhere you go they are knocking down trees or clearing open meadows for more town houses. This in effect causes more traffic, something Northern Virginia doesn't need any more of. I think limiting growth while stabilizing traffic and congestion is a good way to analyze smart growth and solve any problems that may arise from it, but what do I know, I'm a 23-year-old guy fresh out of school.
What is the last book you read, the last movie you watched, last game you played? Last book I read was "Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene. An insightful and brain teasing book about the fundamentals of theories such as alternate dimensions, time travel and asking the question: is there a God? Last movie I saw was "Live Free or Die Hard." Great movie with some of the best action scenes to date. As for what game I’m playing, I have "Resident Evil 4" sitting in my Wii right now.
What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about? There's some I’d like to keep hidden so I won’t say, but if they’re still around in a couple years check out western Loudoun County and the old towns and buildings that are still standing. It's almost eerie yet fascinating to see them still around with all the local suburban development. You get a good sense of history and what it use to be like back in those classic days.
If you were to take a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go? Does Australia count? I could take it on a ferry and do a couple thousand laps, but realistically I'd like to take a cross-country trip to California with my close friends.
Personal goals? I want to get into the game industry and eventually create a unique and inspiring game. Other then that, travel the world.
What is the Nintendo Short Cuts competition? It was a worldwide short-film contest, three-five minutes, where anyone could make a video but it had to some how relate back to Nintendo. You could technically dress up as Mario and call it a day but creativity, originality and quality were the determining factors of winning the contest.
What inspired you to make a film for the Nintendo Short Cuts competition? Before this I made another Wii video with Myspace and Nintendo back during September. It was my first competition that I had ever entered. I had to make a 30-second commercial showing the different ways you could play the Wii with the special motion-sensitive remote. I ended up winning and began following the contest more closely. I'm a big Nintendo fan and follow the industry closely so I ended up making a documentary titled "7 Days Till Launch." A film about the massive hype for the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3. It followed the perspectives of people waiting out in line for days to buy the system while still showing people the amount of stress and energy it takes to prepare for one of these massive video-game system launches. During that time I had a lot of people who liked it so decided to keep producing video-game related videos and low and behold I came upon the Nintendo Shorts Cuts Contest. I had the skills, the time and the passion so I decided to go for it.
How did you come up for the idea for "The Last Wii"? I wanted to incorporate "old school" with "new school." I felt using old Nintendo themes and products to get a Wii was a unique idea. I like incorporating imagery and symbolism in my work and felt it would appeal to classic gamers while still attracting the new crowd who is desperately still trying to find a Wii, though I do not recommend using those methods in the video to stop other pursuing Wii buyers.
Did you have that much trouble getting your actual Wii? I shouldn’t be saying this but when I was working at Toys 'R' Us my coworker and I were able to hold a Wii for ourselves on launch day. I know it was against store policy but we were the biggest Nintendo fans and were following this system years before it was released. Hell, if I was going to give it up to some soccer mom who didn’t even know how to pronounce the system. Just watch as I write this some Toys 'R' Us officials will bust down the door and take my Wii from me.
What’s your favorite game? Why? That’s a hard question because during certain time periods of my life my tastes have matured and changed. The most influential game that had a lasting effect on me was probably the classic Mario Brothers game with the Duck Hunt game packed in. The game that probably gave me the most joy and gaming pleasure was Goldeneye for Nintendo 64. I put so much time into that game. I threw small parties centered around that one single game. To this day I haven't encountered a game that has sucked me in as much as that one.
What was the biggest challenge in making the movie? Time. Hands down that was the biggest challenge. For example the entire fight sequence took two days. More then half of our footage wasn't up to standards because of uncontrollable circumstances like customers, location and timing issues. We ended up scrapping it and coming in early Saturday morning to reshoot the bad footage. We had a week and half to complete the entire video and send it to Nintendo with an extra day for delivery. Many other problems were timing issues, trying to get everyone together to film the shots I needed. Editing was a breeze because I only had myself to deal with and I worked on that 18 hours straight. It was stressful but I'm satisfied with what we cranked out with that amount of time.
Any plans for more movies? Most definitely. Making anything creative gives me a purpose to be alive. It makes me feel complete so I'm definitely looking to make another movie, it just takes time and when your working full time it's hard to find free time to do such things. I'd like to make another documentary that has a deep and meaningful message related to the gaming industry. Like I said that takes time, but I have various ideas floating in my head waiting for a chance to come out and reveal themselves.