I suppose this is technically
also a director's statement, but I want to speak at length about
the production of this little short without worrying whether or
not it will fit on a program. So here it comes. Aherm.
began as a school project. Here's how it worked at SCAD (the Savannah
College of Art and Design): you had at most four classes to work
on your final thesis. These classes were Concept Development,
Final Project I, Final Project II, and Portfolio. In spring of
2004, I found myself in Concept Development without any concept
to develop, but I did have several goals in mind. I knew that I wanted my
film to a) Be light and amusing, with a dash of "meaning".
I wasn't out to make my epic masterwork, but I wanted the film
to at least be worth watching. b) Be simple enough to complete
within the allotted time budget. Too many student films end up
as perpetual work-in-progress, especially 2D films. As a rabid
traditional animator with a computer chip on her shoulder, I was
adamant about proving...something about...something..to the world..?
Well, I just wanted to finish the damn thing. c) Be a good showcase
of my character animation skills for my reel. And lastly, d) Fetch
a big fat juicy "A" in all of my classes because I was,
and forever will remain, a huge nerd. So then- I needed a story.
I doodled a
sketch one day of a girl with a cat on her head. It amused me
greatly. So I made up a little story about it. Simple enough,
huh? I called the girl as "Jane" but I later decided
that was too specific. I now call her "EveryGirl" (kind
of like "EveryMan", but with her own line of teeny-bopper
clothing and accessories!) She is an introverted, sensitive soul
who realizes that no one is going to hand her an invitation to
join life's party. At first, she is angered at this reality, and
tries to isolate herself with "who needs 'em!"s and
"I'm better off alone"s. But she has an epiphany, finally
gets over her tragic self, and allows herself to seek out the
beauty in life. All with a cat on her head. The idea is admittedly
a bit self-indulgent (yes, I am shy, and yes, I have a cat like
that), but EveryGirl is by no means autobiographical or a caricature.
At least- not consciously. After settling the story issue, I was
also at a loss for a title, toying with brilliant ideas like "The
Bench" or "The Cat and the Bench" or "The
Girl Sitting on the Bench Reading A Newspaper Until A Cat Walks
Into Frame..". On a whim, I asked my friend Gillian what
was the coolest word she could think of, and she promptly answered
"juxtapose". I dug it, and instantly fashioned a drawn-out
and pretentious justification has to how the word perfectly applied
to EveryGirl's state of being, and I was ready.
I slapped together
storyboards, animatics, and a nice fat production book for my
Concept class, got a good grade, and went on to summer vacation
with the sincere intent of beginning production right away- which
of course didn't happen. What did happen was a glorious internship
at Primal Screen in Atlanta, where, among other things, I met
the wonderful Nate Foster who has since become my collaborator.
He's brilliant in his "evil genius" way, with emphasis
on the evil. Without him, Juxtaposer would probably have ended
up as another sad perpetual work-in-progress.
I came back
to school in fall of 2004 as a senior, frightened to death to
begin production in my Final Project I class. That first blank
sheet of paper quite intimidating. I would just stare at it, and it would stare right back, and I swear I could hear it say "don't even bother." I got into the project bit
by bit, testing the waters with my smallest toe, until I got used
to the temperature and dived in- only to realize after I completed
the first few scenes that I was a terrible animator. I needed
to redo all the animation as well as character designs. And still
now when I watch the film, I wish I could go back and reanimate
the entire damn thing start to finish, but then I wouldn't have
the time to sit down and type this. Anyway, one quarter melted
into another (with a brief stint freelancing at Primal again inbetween)
and I completed all the pencils to my film. Once I locked down
the timing, I rushed to my friend Marc Femenella screaming something
about "sound design". I then proceeded to lasso some
of my talented friends into providing vocalizations. After Marc
(who has the patience of a saint) and I (the patience of a Saint
Bernard) had several intense sessions of nit-pickiness and improvised sound effects, he had given the film a new dimension through audio.
As the rest
of the year sped by, I stopped caring about my grades. Juxtaposer
simply had to be completed. That's all that mattered. Nate introduced
a coloring technique that even one so allergic to computers as
I could handle, and he began the painful process of scanning,
processing, and coloring each frame of the film as I wrapped up
the inking process. Later when we realized that he had to actually
show up at work, I quarantined myself to finish the last of the
coloring while Nate composited the film and put that last shining
touch on it- the titles graciously designed by another awesome
Primate, Rob Shepps. And then, after the whirlwind months of worry,
anxiety, and self-loathing- it was done.
I almost didn't
believe it. I still don't. There are so many things I wish I could
change now in the awkward animation and gutless design, because after all, 'Juxtaposer'
basically a time capsule of my skills from Fall of 2004,
and I like to think I've gotten better since then. But you know
what? Its done. Leave it be. Best to save all my criticism for
the next film I do. Because even if it doesn't sweep the festival
circuit or land me a dream job, 'Juxtaposer' introduced me to
the joys of filmmaking, and thats enough for me right now. This film is by no means
going to be an only child.
Oct. 10 2005