Victoria family works together in artistic projects

Swack and Hairy star in the animations "Cali Papa" and "What Are Those?" at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival.

Working on an animation that features a duck and a monkey helped Joshua and Anna Santellana as their family went through a tough time.

Their 5-year-old son completed 11 months of chemotherapy and has been recently declared to have no evidence of disease.

"Working on the films brought us closer as a family," Anna said. "It was a rough year, and we are ready to move on."

Two of the Santellanas' animations - "Cali Papa" and "What Are Those?" - will be screened Saturday during the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival at the Rosebud Fountain and Grill.

The Victoria couple attended the festival last year and were encouraged to participate this year by organizer Anthony Pedone. Their film, "What Are Those?" is nominated for best animation.

Joshua Santellana said the stars of his animations, Swack (the duck) and Hairy (the monkey), are extensions of himself.

"As a person, I feel like I have two personalities," he said. "Swack and Hairy are extreme versions of my funny and serious side, and we put those characters through everyday life situations."

The animations cover social issues, like how obsessed American viewers have become with reality television, and mention the implications of political leaders.

Santellana said the subjects covered are a good way to help children become more aware of what is going on in society and keep it interesting for adults.

The family said they have traveled to California and pitched their cartoon to Nickelodeon.

They plan to pitch Swack and Hairy again in the future and count on their three children to advise them on what is funny.

"Anything they have to say is very helpful," Santellana said. "They get excited to have ideas and actually see them happen."

Anna Santellana said they try to make the animations a family deal and like that the kids get to see their parents working on a dream.

She said people should not just go to the festival to see their film but enjoy what every filmmaker has to offer.

"It's a great idea just to go to the festival," Santellana said. "It shows you that if you have an idea and have a great way to express it, you can do it."

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Arts/Entertainment and Breaking News Reporter

I love asking people what they are passionate about. Working for the Victoria Advocate allows me to learn more about the fascinating things people are doing throughout their community.

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