Zen is animated about the future
Zen Marley Mello is the definition of a quadruple threat.
The 17-year-old CedarBridge Academy student has been developing his animation and music skills for years and even won a youth film competition from a film he wrote, animated and edited himself.
Zen said he was spending the summer interning with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to develop his own animation business.
But he added that, while he planned to study animation in university, he also wanted to make time for his other passion – medicine.
Zen said: “I just want to help people and make the world a better place.”
Zen, from St David’s, won the Best Film and Best Narrative categories of the Bermuda Youth Film Festival with his animated film Too Young for Romance.
He received a Dell computer and a $100 gift card for the short.
The five minute-long animation looked at the complexities of dating as a teenager – all on the backdrop of super-powered fights and a musical number.
Zen said that he took inspiration from anime and other types of media he consumed throughout his childhood.
He added that he taught himself everything he knew, from drawing to using animation software.
Zen explained: “A friend recommended me an app, so I just started practising and eventually I realised it was something I really liked.”
He added: “It’s just fun to create your own thing. You can create something with your own idea and you can have infinite freedom with your own idea.
“I’ve been making videos – just fun stuff – with my brothers for years, and it’s the same with music.
“I’ve always been into art and music, but it was only two years ago that I really started getting into both of those.”
Zen’s YouTube page, Zenimations, has 43 videos of traditional animation and video essays from the last year.
But Zen said that he had almost 100 videos stored on his computer that he wrote, animated, edited and composed the music for.
Despite this, Zen admitted that he did not expect to win the film festival when the results were announced in June.
He said: “Just from seeing how it was judged and everything, I didn’t think my film was going to cut it.
“I saw all the others and thought someone else was going to get it, so it was kind of a surprise when I won.”
Zen said he was developing Zenimations into an animation agency through his internship at BEDC.
He said the agency would provide animations for commercials for businesses.
Zen added that he found it difficult to find an art community here – but was open to speaking with others who were interested.
He said: “I know there are communities here for animation but they’re not well known so I’ve found it’s hard to reach out to them.”
Zen encouraged anyone who wanted to go into animation to never worry about being different.
He added: “Don’t pressure yourself to be good immediately. You shouldn’t be afraid to try something different and maybe create your own style.”
• Anyone who wants to get in touch with Zen for animation commissions can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org