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Grendel is a spoof based off of the Beowulf legend (in which the hero Beowulf originally defeats the dangerous monster, Grendel). However, in our version of the story, Grendel is actually a kind and gentle monster who wants to befriend his viking neighbors. When the vikings meet him, Grendel’s intentions don’t come across very well, and the vikings decide to attack him mercilessly. The film was pitched in November 2016 and will be finished before the end of 2018.

upload 3/GrendelPainting.jpg
Concept art by Joseph Buenning

It’s a pretty hilarious film, although possibly the most technically challenging BYU students have ever attempted. In just some short 7 minutes, there are fire, water, wind, cloth, debris, and destruction FX, four completely different character rigs, crowd simulations with those rigs, fur on every single character, and an overall heaping plate of animation. However, this year’s seniors are a particularly ambitious group, and they are fully on-board with taking this bull on by the horns. Many of them have had experience working on last year’s Student-Emmy nominated film Taijitu and came fully equipped to handle the challenge.

Meet the students working on "Grendel"

DIRECTOR: Kalee McCollaum. Kalee is one of the hardest working students in the 2018 graduating class. As a modeling, shading, lighting, and compositing artist who played a major role in last year’s film Taijitu, she is familiar with all aspects of the pipeline. Kalee continues to do very well in giving well-informed art and story direction and making decisions about the film design.

PRODUCER: Austin Rodriguez. Austin has worked on more senior films than most students in the 2018 graduating class. He is a Pre-vis and FX artist that has worked on nearly all films since 2013’s Chasm, filling many different roles as necessary. Because of this, Austin is also very familiar with the pipeline and has been indispensable in the organization and production of Grendel.

STAND-IN DIRECTOR: Kalee McCollaum accepted an offer to take the Disney Look Dev Internship this summer, and therefore was absent for a few months of production. Miki Hansen was the stand-in Director over the summer. Miki has also been filling the unofficial role of Production Manager, creating organizational spreadsheets and publicity images for the film.

STAND-IN PRODUCER: Austin Rodriguez accepted an offer to take the Pixar PUPS Internship this summer, and therefore was absent for a few months of production. Samuel Giraud-Carrier was the stand-in Producer over the summer. Sam has also been filling the unofficial role of FX lead, working with Kalee to create art-directed simulations as portrayed in the concept art.

The graduating class of 2018 has many wonderful students collaborating and participating on this film. Most students, if they are not working on the senior game project (called Beatboxer), are contributing time and effort to make Grendel a reality. In total, about 30 students are actively participating by attending dailies and spending a significant amount of time in the animation lab. Without this kind of collaboration, no student film would ever reach completion.

To put this into perspective, consider any one of Pixar's short films that play before many feature films: those 3-8 minute films take about 1 year to complete, a team of 20-30 people working full-time, and a production budget of at least $2 million USD. Thus, for a group of students like this to collaborate full-time on a project without a salary is a large feat, especially when its deadline is within a year of the project's commencement.

Get Involved!

If you would like to get involved with Grendel, come on over! The Animation Program’s annual film projects exist to help students improve their skills no matter where they’re starting from. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, we invite you to join the team!

To get involved, start by coming to dailies. (Dailies is a bi-weekly meeting in which progress is discussed, feedback is given, and assignments are made.) Currently, dailies are held at 1:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in the Talmage, room 1110.

If you are unable to attend dailies, email the Director and Producer at to express interest in working on the film. You may consider scheduling a time to meet up with either the Director or Producer to learn more about your assignment(s).

If you are curious about some of the work that has already been done on the film, you can also visit the Grendel Blog here.

We’re excited to work with you on the film! Working on a senior film is one of the best ways to increase your skills, figure out what you want to do in the industry, create demo-reel material, and network.