Monday, September 19, 2011

Story Time

The story about how I came to call myself a producer must absolutely start with how I came to know Mike Greenholt.

I met Mike several years ago while we were both working on The TinkerBell movie.  I remember initially being blown away by his artwork and then totally shocked to discover he was one of the nicest human beings on the planet.  It amazes me when talented people are down to earth and ...real.  You know?  You know.

When I left Disney, we lost touch for a while.  I’d text him invites every now and then to see if he wanted to hang out with our crowd, but I never heard back.  I shrugged it off thinking “Hm.  Maybe he just never checks his phone.”  A few years later, when we reconnected over Facebook, I discovered he wasn’t ignoring me - I was texting his house phone.  Somewhere out in the ether are 10 or 15 texts from me wondering if Mike wants to hang out.

Since reconnecting, our lives have changed drastically and in wonderful ways - Mike officiated my wedding a year and a half ago and he’s currently engaged to my best friend.  When my husband became a part of the mix, he brought with him a slew of writers and artists who were a part of a community that (online and in print) call themselves RedFence.

I looked around myself and found I was surrounded by artists, photographers, movie buffs, writers, dancers, musicians and storytellers.  And I thought: why aren’t we MAKING something?  Why do we all just hang out when we could put all of these talents to use?

And we were all thinking it.  And we’d each wondered out loud at some point about what we would make if we were to put our energy in to something beautiful.  But Mike was the first one to say “Hey.  Let’s make a cartoon.”

Immediately ideas started flying and we pretty quickly settled on the desire to make a short music video since that would mean the sound was already taken care of and we could focus our energy on the visuals.

The only element we lacked at that point was: a song.

Through RedFence, my husband James had been in touch with an incredible musician, Nick Jaina.  Nick’s musical aesthetic fit perfectly with what we were looking for.  His decided gift, not just for songwriting, but musical storytelling, engages listeners fully lush audible landscapes.  After we contacted Nick about our idea, he graciously sent us a few tracks from his newest album ‘The Beanstalks that Have Brought Us Here Are Gone.’ One song in particular caught the attention of our whole group.  The final track, ‘No One Gives Their Heart Away,” featuring Laura Gibson is a lullaby of sorts that lent one of its lines to the albums title.

Now at this point, mind you, I was still not a producer.  Not until I got a text one afternoon while I was at work.  It was from Mike and it was very unassuming and straightforward, but loaded with possibility.  Much like Mike.  It said “Do you want to Produce my music video?”


what do you say to that?

“No, sorry, I’m busy that day?”
“No, I really don’t like to open the door when Opportunity knocks”?
“No, the idea of taking on all of that responsibility honestly makes my bowels quiver?”

None of those answers seemed appropriate.  And, in the end, the answer wasn’t “no” at all.  I thought about it for a few minutes and...
I did.
I did want to Produce a music video.  Whatever that might mean and wherever that might take me.  I wanted to do exactly that.

So I texted back, “yes, yes I do.”  And now, here I am, trying to figure out what it means to be a Producer of a short independent animated film.

Time to do my homework and start learning a WHOLE lot more about animation, huh?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The start of something good

Almost everyone my age grew up watching cartoons, but not everyone gets to make them.  

Up until now, I could only say that I have ‘made cartoons’ because I worked for a year as a Production Secretary on an animated Disney movie.  Also, I drew little flip books on the bottom of the pages in my Geometry book in high school.  And...and that’s about it. 

Suddenly, I find myself in an awkward situation at parties.  “Hi, I’m Laura” I’ll say, and inevitably, the person I’m talking to asks what I do.  I could tell them my day job, sure.  But that’s so BOooooring.  “I... I... Well, I’m producing an animated music video.  I’m a... Producer.”  

I wait for them to laugh, because I’m convinced in my gut that this is all leading up to some sort of punchline. 

But they never laugh.  They ask questions.  And suddenly, I’m a Producer. 

Just like that.

Now, because I’m not an artist, and because I did not attend film school, I’m finding myself with a bit of catching up to do.  I have a lot to learn about animation, and a lot to learn about production. 

My goal here is threefold: 

1) I want to come up with a primer for Animation 101 page of sorts.  If I’m
going to make a cartoon, I’d damn well better know what I’m talking about.

2) I want to familiarize myself with what’s going on in the world of animation: shorts, features, foreign, low budget, hand drawn, CG, stop motion, all of it.  My goal is to watch one new thing (new to me) each week.  Suggestions are so totally accepted.

3) I want to tell the story about our cartoon, and how I found myself producing it.  But mostly, I want to talk about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

My hope is that as a production, we’ll make something beautiful and something that we’re proud of.  Personally?  I’d like to be a little more confident introducing myself at parties.