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The Color Red

Teaser Trailer

The Color Red is a short animated film that I wrote and directed during my Junior and Senior years at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The film follows our main character, Eliise, as she is forced to escape her home country, Estonia, when the Soviet Union invades in 1944. This event instills young Eliise with a negative association with the color red, which she must battle throughout her life.


Great Aunt



Teaser Poster, Digital

Jonathan Marzella, Beat Board, Digital Drawing

The story of this film is significant to me, as it is based on my own life and the lives of my relatives. I am a descendant of Estonian immigrants who came to the United States because of World War 2. The war was extremely devastating to Estonia and its people. In 1944, when the film begins, the Soviet Union invaded Estonia. This forced many to flee the country, including my great grandparents and their three young children. After spending time in displaced persons camps, they eventually immigrated to the United States, as did many other refugees at the time. They were hard working citizens and made good lives for themselves in America, but there was always a longing to return to their true home. Sadly, Estonia was still under the occupation of the Soviet Union and would remain under their control until 1991. All of the hardships that the Soviet Union caused my family understandably gave them negative feelings toward the country and things associated with it, namely the color red.

This aversion for the color red was something that persisted in the future generations of my family. My mother explained to me that when she was young, wearing red was not allowed; it was an unspoken rule. I honestly cannot remember seeing my mother ever wear red. I found this realization to be really unfortunate. My mother had a deeply ingrained distaste for red even though she had never experienced the terror of the Soviet Union as those before her had. Learning about all of this family history made me extremely grateful that red was never tainted for me as a child. My family instead gave me compassion and support, putting an end to the cycle of passing on fear.


Jonathan Marzella, Storyboard, Digital Drawing

In the film, I wanted to demonstrate how the consequences of war do not end on the battlefield. The effects can last for generations and influence the most mundane aspects of life. The main character, Eliise, loses her innocence as a result of being part of something horrific at such a young age. Her unshakable fear of red is a representation of her past trauma controlling her life. It controls her to such a degree that it ends up also affecting those who are close to her.

Helena Cheng, Layout, Digital Drawing

Making this film was a really great experience for me. I got to work with a fantastic group of individuals whose devotion to the project made the film what it is. We are tremendously proud of what we were able to accomplish and are excited to share it with others. Even though the story is very specific to me and my family, I feel that the themes are universal. I hope that audiences will connect with it and take away a positive message.


Kristen Hayes, Character Sheet, Digital Drawing

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Helena Cheng, Color Script, Digital Painting

The Crew

Writer/Director: Jonathan Marzella

Producer: Meghan O’Brien

Storyboards: Jonathan Marzella, Kristen Hayes

Visual Development: Helena Cheng, Donald Sutton

Character Design: Kristen Hayes, Helena Cheng

Layouts: Helena Cheng, Donald Sutton, Meghan O’Brien

Character Animation: Meghan O’Brien, Jonathan Marzella, Kristen Hayes

Effects Animation: Camilla Tasaico, Meghan O’Brien

Clean-up: Kristen Hayes, Meghan O’Brien, Jonathan Marzella

Color: Donald Sutton, Kristen Hayes, Jonathan Marzella

Compositing: Meghan O’Brien, Kristen Hayes, Jonathan Marzella

Music: Composing Christina Hiromoto

Sound Supervisor: JJ Querubin

Foley Engineer: Amanda Duchnowski

Foley Artist: Ben Bessell

Sound Editors: Kelsi Harper, Sam Iruzo

Re-Recoding Mixer: Clifton Kadanec

Trailer Editor: Xander Marzella

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