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"Small, Beautifully Moving Parts" embarks on its theatrical debut, May 11 at New York City’s Cinema Village.

Photo courtesy of: Annie Howell

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The film expands on the universe created in a popular web series.

Photo courtesy of: Annie Howell

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Long Island University Assistant Film Professor Lisa Robinson and Ohio University Assistant Film Professor Annie Howell

Photo courtesy of: Annie Howell

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'Small, Beautifully Moving Parts' gears up for theatrical debut


What started as a web series about a woman fascinated by technology and modern gadgets is transitioning from computer screens to theater screens as "Small, Beautifully Moving Parts" embarks on its theatrical debut, May 11 at New York City’s Cinema Village.

Written and directed by Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, assistant film professors at Ohio University and Long Island University respectively, the film follows protagonist and technophile Sarah Sparks, whose pregnancy inspires her to travel west to reconnect with her estranged technophobe mother.

The film was initially inspired by Howell and Robinson’s web series, "Sparks," which shows Sarah Sparks as she deals with being female whose life is consumed by technology.

“We wanted to create a female protagonist who was interested in technology because we were interested in the way that technology was starting to really populate our lives,” said Howell.

After the show became syndicated to the Sundance Channel, however, Howell and Robinson discovered that they wanted to expand the series.

 “We started off with a web series and once we sort of got rolling on that we realized how much we really responded to these characters and we could see all this potential,” said Howell. “Especially just with this subject matter, it’s so relevant and there’s so much there dramatically with these machines and people as contrasting elements, that we wanted to put this protagonist and some of the supporting characters into a more difficult situation that’s more complex.”

The film takes Sparks and throws her into completely unchartered territory for the protagonist: motherhood.

“We felt like there was a lack of diversity in the way the media portray women facing motherhood and so we wanted to explore those issues a little bit more,” said Robinson.

The film's themes of "coming of baby" and technology versus its role in people’s everyday life resonated with festival audiences, causing it to be picked up for theatrical distribution by Long Shot Factory.

“There’s something about it [technology],” said Robinson. “Even though it frustrates us and sometimes it does make us feel out of control there’s still a certain reassurance in the fact that technology can try to be fixed and figured out and we can understand it if we try hard enough. And there’s a way in which relationships and things that happen in our life that are not quite like that. They’re complicated and they’re hard to understand sometimes and they can’t always be fixed.”

Luckily, technology was on Robinson and Howell’s side during the brief 21 days it took for “Moving Parts” to be filmed.

“Our shoot went remarkably smoothly, we thought we had been blessed by some tech god,” said Howell.

As for whether or not the world will see more of Sarah Sparks in the future, all Howell could say was, “Never say never.”

Athens Film Festival

People who can’t wait for the film’s theatrical debut can catch it this weekend at the Athens International Film and Video Festival at the Athena at 8 p.m. Sunday.

“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” also opens at the Gateway Film Center on June 6, in Columbus, Ohio. Fans who want the film to be shown in their city can get more information by visiting smallbeautifullymovingparts.com.