Kjell Boersma: Experimental Astronaught
Travelling from Sesame Street to the SDZ and beyond, Kjell Boersma’s artistic journey has taken off.
Upon completing his Image Arts bachelor’s degree at Ryerson in 2018, the Astronaught Media founder joined the SDZ to grow his passion for storytelling. He stayed for the early-idea incubator's personalized approach to supporting its members.
“One of the things that frustrated me about working at other animation studios is that you don’t get any creative input,” he says. The SDZ backed Kjell's creativity by allowing him to learn on his terms, despite lacking a scientific background, in a communal space.
Kjell’s desire for cultural impact through art is understood by the SDZ. Using an evidence-based approach to learning, the interdisciplinary zone provides people with diverse workshops, events, and resources.
The SDZ's laser-cutter helped Kjell's current illustrative project: co-directing the short film Boat People with its creator Thao Lam. As Kjell moves forward to the short film's second stage of production, this support helps guide Kjell's decision-making on Boat People and future Astronaught Media works.
Produced for the National Film Board of Canada, Boat People is inspired by Thao’s journey to Canada from Vietnam as a child refugee. Projects like this give Kjell creative freedom, offering an outlet for new ideas without requiring profit-motivations. Kjell's artistry, which includes living and creating in New Mexico, developed without a "well-articulated vision" for his artistic future. Now, he receives the SDZ's ongoing business support— such as through networking, strategizing and providing digital tools— to grow his evolving company. Kjell is already thinking about what comes next for Astronaught Media and how to balance the effort needed to direct Boat People and plan his next project.
“I enjoy sharing my projects in audiences,” he says. “I don’t care if it’s a huge global audience or a festival screening for 100 people.”
The Astronaught Media founder's personal and professional development exemplifies the SDZ's benefits: an open-minded approach to fulfilling member needs. He's grateful for this support, appreciating the SDZ's personalized approach to ideation and experimentation.
“I think it’s important to try things that you’re excited about and that matter to you,” Kjell says.