Sunday, September 26, 2010

ANIMATION AT VERSAILLES

I decided to make my first animated film in Paris.
The fact that I didn’t yet know how to animate did not deter me.
First, I had to get money to produce the film. I approached the money men, two Canadians. They said they were very busy, but that they’d listen to my pitch if I took them to Versailles and showed them around. Sigh. 

Animation gets no respect.
Pitching a film is hard enough at the best of times but to do it at in the palace of Versailles is truly terrifying.  Versailles is vast, huge and very, very grand. An extravaganza of mirrors, parquet, gilded statues, painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers. Symbols of power and wealth everywhere. 

The opposite of the minimalist film I had in mind.
In such a setting, I just couldn’t pitch my ten-minute, stylised, hand-drawn film. 

I waited until we went outside to the vast parks, gigantic urns, stunning statues, extravagant fountains and French gardens with swirling patterns of tight little hedges and flowers. More symbols of power, but I felt I could do my pitch where the grandeur was less oppressive and there was air and sunlight.
I kept it simple and quick.
And, on the way home, they said they would give me the money.
The catch was the film had to be ready in two months to be released with their live-action feature film.
Two months to write, design, direct, produce, animate, paint backgrounds edit and do titles for a ten-minute hand-drawn film is close to impossible.
Perhaps they thought I wouldn’t accept such a deadline.
But I did and, despite many pitfalls, some catastrophic events and thanks to superhuman efforts, the film was finished on time.
It opened with the feature film on the Champs Elysées. 
The audience, there to see the live-action feature, spontaneously applauded my short film.
I burst into tears.
It may have looked like a little animated film, but making it was a glorious, epic adventure, a life-transforming drama, a creative inspiration, born in the palace of Versailles.

*
ANIMATION, ART, VERSAILLES, FRANCE, HANDDRAWN

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