SpornFilms 10 Mar 2007 10:26 am

Champagne, the girl

- Let me tell you about Champagne.

These images are frame grabs from the improvised first half of Champagne.
(Click any image to enlarge.)

- Champagne was a short film I completed in 1996. It started with Maxine Fisher, a writer who has done most of the script writing for and with me. She had volunteered to help some children, who were housed at a convent, with their reading skills. Essentially, she read to them each Saturday. These kids were being raised in the convent because their parents were imprisoned for a while. Nuns were raising them.

Champagne was one girl, 14 years old, who developed a relationship with Maxine. When she found out that Max was involved with an animation studio, Champagne asked to get a look. On her Saturday tour through my studio, she asked if I could make her a cartoon character. So I pulled out a DAT recorder and a microphone, and I interviewed her for about two hours. The end result was edited down by my editor at the time, Ed Askinazi, to 13 minutes. (Of course, I was very involved in that edit. Lots of transcripts and reworking were involved.) Eventually, we had a vocal track.

Without doing a storyboard, but having developed a character model, I started animating. I wanted to use only Champagne’s voice to get me to intuitively draw what came to mind.

Some work came into the studio, and I had to put Champagne, the film, aside. After a few months, I was about ready to go back to it. I had reached the key point where Champagne, the four year old child, had witnessed her mother killing a man and had been forced to leave her grandmother to enter the convent. The film was almost half done. We were now going to hear her talk about the future.

I asked Jason McDonald, to start a storyboard for the rest of the film. I wanted the remainder to be more structured. Jason did it, and I animated what he did – sticking faithfully to what he gave me. Then he started in on the backgrounds while I finished animating it. Eventually, he also colored a lot of it and led others in completing the art (including Champagne, herself, who was an intern in the studio – in the afternoons after her high school classes.)

The real Champagne when Maxine first met her in the convent.

Maxine and Champagne not too long after the initial tracks were recorded.

Sister Tesa, the nun who ran the convent, which was named “Our Mother’s House.”

Thumbnails which were done in preparation for the storyboard for the remainder of the film.

Tomorrow we’ll focus on Jason McDonald‘s backgrounds and art from the film.

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