Chrystene R. Ells



Bio Summary:
Crystene began work in the theatre in 1982 as a stage manager and went on
to act and eventually direct her own one-act plays. She has experience as
an actress with a background in mime and street theater and designed and
controlled several puppets used in theatrical productions. Over the years,
she has written over 12 plays, directed 30 live productions and performed
in more than 50 stage shows.

Chrystene moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in film and animation.
She spent 20 years working as a traditional effects artist, designing stop
motion puppets and creatures for Industrial Light and Magic. She was also a
puppeteer for several television commercials, including work for Pizza Hut,
Round Table, ESPN, and Fox.

Chrystene worked as a stop-motion animator and puppeteer until the decline
in traditional forms of animation and the rise of digital media when she
learned a new skill set and earned a BA in digital animation. In 2000, she
began to direct films and began work as the Director of Fine Arts
Department at Ex'pression College for Digital Arts, teaching concept art,
drawing, storyboarding, preproduction, design, painting, and sculpting.

Early Life/Family:
She was born in California and moved to Alberta, Canada when she was very
young and spent most of her childhood on her family's cattle ranch. She
moved to San Francisco at the age of 21 to pursue her interest in film and
animation work. Her father lived with her in San Francisco before his death
from cancer in 2004, and afterwards she began work on one of her dream
projects, "Sisu- the Death of Tom Sukanen", a feature film that applied
both live action and practical effects. She moved to Saskatchewan in 2006
to immerse herself in the country's culture and gain inspiration for her
personal film, which was completed in 2009 and has now become a Canadian

Chrystene earned a BA in digital animation and an interdisciplinary MFA in
film, theatre, and visual arts at University of Regina. Her other training
in the arts includes:

1999 Figure Painting Leigh Hyams, Art Studio, UC Berkeley, California
1999 Water based Painting Leigh Hyams, Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
1997 Digital Filmmaking Center for Electronic Arts, San Francisco
1996 Digital Graphic Arts Center for Electronic Arts, San Francisco
1988 Mask Making Dell'Arte School, Blue Lake, California
1985-86 Theatre and Arts ION Theatre Lab, Calgary, Alberta
1984 Directing for the Stage Eugenio Barba, Odin Theatre, Denmark
1984 Method Acting A.C.T.S. , Toronto, Ontario
1984 Physical Performance Richard Fowler, Primus Theatre, Winnipeg

Comments on Style:
I was unfamiliar with Chrystene's work prior to this project, but I must
say that I am quite fond of her style, both in two-dimensional and
three-dimensional artwork. It has a dark, yet quirky feeling to it, I'm
reluctant to draw comparisons, but I am somewhat reminded of the early
works of Tim Burton in the way that she draws and sculpts some of her
characters. I suppose it only makes sense that she worked on the
fabrication and repair of puppets in "The Nightmare Before Christmas". She
has done a lot of work with monsters, zombies, and just all around strange
character designs, which really appeal to my own interests.

I watched several of her videos on her youtube channel of her puppet and
stop-motion tests and found it to be very interesting, as stop-motion work
always is. The amount of thought and problem solving that goes into
creating convincing and/or appealing models and puppets has always
impressed me and though I do not have much experience animating, I have
done some work with models and understand the time and effort that goes
into that kind of work.


Though I did not get the chance to speak with Chrystene, from what I have
seen of her work she seems to have a very witty, eccentric sense of humor,
several of the advertisements and shorts she has worked on are satirical or
darkly humorous in nature. Her website states her fascination with visual
storytelling and being able to convey emotions and events more through
actions and characters than spoken word.



2011*Véronique à vélo * (Short) (co-writer) / (story)
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary) (story) / (writer)

*Animation department*
2010* Suckathumb * (Short) (animator)
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary) (animator)
1993* The Nightmare Before Christmas * (character fabricator)

2011* Véronique à vélo * (Short) (co-director)
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary)

2011* Véronique à vélo * (Short)
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary)

2011* Véronique à vélo * (Short) (co-producer)
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary) (producer)

*Miscelaneous Crew*
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary) (publicist)
1991* Liquid Television * (TV Series) (crew - 1 episode)

1992* Shooting Script: A Transatlantic Love Story * (as Chrystin Ells)

*Special Effects*
2001* Monkeybone * (model maker)

*Visual Effects*
2011* Véronique à vélo * (Short) (digital effects)

*Production Designer*
2009* Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen * (Documentary)

*Sound Department*
2011* Véronique à vélo * (Short) (sound editor)

*Bibliographic Research:*
Personal webpage:
Youtube channel:
IMDB page:

*Contributors To This Listing:*
Caitlin Mulvihill

Animators Hall of Fame