Jack Buckley

Jack Buckley works on his animation at his desk in his office in his family's basement.

Filmmaker Jack Buckley has been working on “Remnants,” his full-length animated feature film, for about three years.

That means the homeschooled Louisa teenager started working on it when he was 12.

During his journey, Jack has watched himself grow as an animator and visual storyteller, and he has completed the first feature-length film using Minecraft animation.

The world premiere of “Remnants” is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Vinegar Hill Theatre. The event will include a screening of the film, plus a brief documentary about the making of the film — “Block by Block: The Making of ‘Remnants’” — and question-and-answer time with Jack and co-star Nicholas McCamish.

“Remnants” follows Chris, who loses his father at the hands of Purple Swordsman, a warlord. Chris teams up with his father’s friend Milo to learn his father’s fate and keep Purple Swordsman from hurting others.

“It’s an action-comedy, and it’s also kind of a buddy film,” Jack said. “It has a lot of heart — heartbreaking moments, and heartwarming moments. It’s also very funny.”

The film initially grew out of his early interests in writing and in video games.

“About three years ago, I began working on it,” said Jack, who works in an office he keeps in the family’s finished basement. “I really wanted to push myself to do a 15-minute short, but it grew into a feature film.

“I put out the first 15-minute thing, and I got a lot of positive feedback.”

Meeting the challenges of expanding the short to a feature-length movie took time and care. One important task was rounding out his characters, who were more two-dimensional in the short than would work in a feature.

Another was learning how to wrangle other creative people. “Project management was huge,” he said. “Almost all of the voice actors I have are out of state.”

He felt comfortable devoting the time it took to improve the quality of his work, often going back and painstakingly redoing his early animation sequences as his skills improved.

“I invested, by the time it was done, 3,200 hours,” Jack said.

Along the way, he realized that he had a passion for storytelling — and the maturity to see his project through.

“I think that, before this film, I had a lot of trouble committing to something,” he said. “This project helped me grow through finally finishing my work. I can stick to things without quitting.”

Rocky Buckley, Jack’s father, said his son was “always making things” before turning his creative energy toward writing novels at age 7.

“He wrote novels, and then he went into creating video games,” he said.

Buckley is proud not only of his son’s achievement, but also of the work ethic he has developed during the process.

“He’s learned a lot about hitting deadlines and managing other people,” Buckley said. “He doesn’t waste his time with doing frivolous things.

“No one ever has made a feature film using Minecraft animation before. He’s used this medium in a whole new way.”

Buckley doesn’t share his son’s sense that he’d ever been lacking in the commitment department, however. What he notices are time management and drive.

“He’s homeschooled. He gets his schoolwork done during the day, and then he has time to follow his passions,” he said.

Jack shares a sense of creative flair with his sisters, who also understand that artistic endeavors require hard work.

Mia Buckley, 17, is a singer-songwriter with her own YouTube channel and two EPs under her belt. She wrote and performed “To the End,” which can be heard at the end of her brother’s new film. Charlotte Buckley, 11, sings and plays piano.

“He’s got a good support system,” Buckley said. “We’ve really built our family in a way that we put the kids first and encourage them.”

Jack said that his film, which includes some mild action violence, is appropriate for ages 6 and older.

“An adult can watch it, and I want kids to come away with the message that I was 12 when I started,” Jack said.

“It is very important for kids to know they don’t have to wait until they are adults to do big things.”

“Remnants” will be available on YouTube starting June 29.

Tickets for Saturday’s red-carpet premiere event are $9 and include popcorn and water.

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Jane Dunlap Sathe is the features editor for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7249 or jsathe@dailyprogress.com

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