About The Renter

The Renter is an independent, animated short film written, directed, and created by Jason Carpenter. Based on a true story, it follows a young boy, who discovers that daycare can be a harsh and confusing world, where caring is shown in unexpected ways. 

The boy from the film.                                          Jason at daycare, (on the left) with his brother Michael, and Mrs. Eldridge, 1979.

Memories of Daycare

In one way or another, all the events in The Renter occurred in real life (except the soup sequence). The film is based on a lot of visits to daycare. I stayed with Mrs. Eldridge in the afternoons until I was about 8 years old. The “renter” character is based on a particular man who rented a room from her one summer. He worked the 3rd shift at the railroad behind her house and slept during the day. One morning I was too loud, and I woke him up. He got so angry he chased me around with a belt. Of course Mrs. Eldridge protected me, and, despite how I portrayed her in the film, she was actually a very loving and kind woman that I remember quite fondly.

Making the Film

The Renter took quite a while to come into its own. I started working on it at CalArts. By the time I graduated, the story was there, as well as some animation, but it was more of an outline than a finished film. If I had kept moving forward, the film would be missing much of what it is today. I started the production over again a couple years later and really tried to simplify what I had. I took out anything that wasn’t necessary and pushed the painterly aspects of the style more. In the end, although the story never really changed, I think I found a way to tell the story in a more visually interesting way.

Except for some early drawings and thumbnails, I didn’t use any paper. I really tried to approach the digital production the same way I would if I were using traditional mediums. Before I started the animation, I blocked out rough layouts and animatics in Flash. With some basic brushes and a couple of paper textures I got from a friend, I started working on the backgrounds in Photoshop. The “texture” of the film results more from how I worked with the tools I had and not so much what tools they were. In many ways, that was my favorite part of the process. 

The Music

Music can make or break a film. If the sound doesn't work, the film isn't going to get very far. The score for The Renter was composed by Jeff Shiffman. He did the excellent sound design as well. You can hear more of Jeff’s work here: 



Direction, Design, and Animation - Jason Carpenter
Music and Sound - Jeff Shiffman, 
Re-recording Mixer - Carlos Sanches
Voices - Corey Shiffman, Taylor Sanches