31 August 2019

New project: 25 Years Later

I have been working on this project in various forms for quite a few years now. It was going to be a documentary, then a live action fictional film and now - an animation. The idea to do it in animation was not mine but from Michael Z Keamy who has been encouraging me to animate something  personal instead of adapting a story or making something funny and cartoonish.

Summary: A man takes on a multi-day ride from Montreal, 25 years after he took care of a sick friend to Boston, where the friend and he lived at the time.

Simple story and I have been able to limit the characters on screen to two making animating it more manageable. The actual script is only a page long but here's the rub... there is something like 15 locations as the cyclist travels to Boston and reminisces about the past. I have made about ½ of those locations so far, but have not started the character design yet. That will be another challenge as they have to age and one needs to get very sick but still be recognizable. Making and rigging characters is my weakest skillset and these need to be better than what I've done before. They won't be life-like depictions, I don't feel that's even a goal when making animations, but they need to feel like real people.

To be honest, this is already one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do in film. The story is based on my personal experiences, mostly with one person but not exclusively as I actually tried to help out a few people who were sick in the 90s when I lived in Boston. So while the 2 characters might be, in effect, much like me and my friend, they are more representatives of people like us mixed with others. This was important for the story to make it flow right but also it's just really emotionally hard to go back to this period and literally recreate it in such detail. Not being "about me" gives it some distance. I had planned to actually do this ride for real 15 yers ago, then 10 years ago but it didn't pan out for various reasons out of my control. Just affording places to stay during the trip is an issue and getting me and the bike back to Montreal is logistically difficult. I am planning to get there this summer, the actual 25th anniversary which gives this short film extra urgency and makes it a bit more distressing to produce. Art is exposing pain sometimes and it should be cathartic. At least I hope it is in the end.

Not sure what I'll do with this animation when it's done, and I wish I had a budget to help me dedicate time exclusively to it.

Exterior shots:
(click to see more detail)

Interior shots:
(click to see more detail)


T' said...

These all look good, but the second one is my favorite. It's very atmospheric, almost Myst-like. I'm looking forward to this. Don't be afraid to make this about you. Even if it's somewhat disguised, like all my stuff is, inserting those personal details will lend it strength and sincerity. Making this fast isn't something you should feel you have to do. Making it right is more important.

Behemoth media said...

My goal is to have it done before I visit the grave next year (spring/summer). Might be too hard to do after that. I am going for a very naturalistic look with this. The Boston Health Centre interior is my least favourite even though I think I got what it needs into it, cold in some ways, over lit. The hospital room really brought back some bad memories but it's the look I was going for. I have tons of photos of "the road" from all my bike travels over the years so they are inspiring me for the outdoor stuff. Thanks for being so encouraging, I really appreciate it!