BAR HARBOR — Nancy Andrews, film professor at the College of Atlantic, has been nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for her web series “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes,” which was shot on Mount Desert Island.
The series, which is available on YouTube, was one of five projects nominated for the Best Short Form Breakthrough Series award.
The Gotham Awards are the unofficial kickoff to awards season, as they can indicate potential success at future award shows. Last year, “Moonlight” won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards before winning it at the Oscars.
The series stars Michole Briana White, a Los Angeles-based actor who travelled to Bar Harbor to help create this series.
“She’s a top notch actor,” Andrews said. “I feel very lucky that I happened upon her.”
The series is an alternate cut of a 2015 feature-length film of the same name. The web-series, cut into eight 10-minute episodes, features a lot of the same content from the film. Andrews said some scenes were scrapped from the full-length film, including a bank heist of a Bar Harbor bank, and did make it into YouTube episodes.
The title character, Dr. Sheri Myes, is played by White. It follows her attempts to expand her perceptions through her “mad-scientist-like” experiments. These odd perceptions, Andrews said, are crucial to the underlying message of the film.
“Everything is connected in ways we might not perceive, and we have to work harder to broaden and deepen our consciousness of that,” Andrews said. “If we could see beyond our own personal perspectives of what is true, we might understand that there are other truths that are just as valid.”
The film and subsequent web series were created by Andrews, who holds a master’s degree in fine arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, as an attempt to break into a more “mainstream” genre. Andrews said this series is different from her previous projects; her work usually falls more in an “abstract” genre.
“I was trying to do something that would pop out of the art ghetto,” Andrews said. “I was trying to make it in a more popular time form without sacrificing my sensibility.”
“Strange Eyes” incorporates sci-fi and Afro-futurist themes, animation and musical numbers through the story. Andrew said she was influenced by “Yellow Submarine,” a psychedelic movie that accompanied the Beatles album of the same name.
The series has amassed only 1,600 views between YouTube and Facebook, but Andrews said that the number of views doesn’t particularly matter to her, especially with this high-profile nomination.
“It’s a thankless business being an independent filmmaker; it’s like shouting in a storm,” Andrews said. “It’s really great to feel like you’re being heard.”
Andrews and White are collaborating on a sequel to “Strange Eyes,” and Andrews hopes that this nomination can create new opportunities to make more films, which are increasingly more expensive.
“What I’m trying to do now is take this moment of limelight and transition it into more work,” Andrews said. “I just want to make the work without having to apply for these little grants.”
The feature film premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2015, but was not picked up for a theatrical release. The initial film had a budget of $80,000, $46,000 of which was funded through crowd-funding platform Kickstarter.
Approximately 70 people affiliated with COA were involved in making of the series.
The Gotham Awards will be held in New York City on Nov. 27.