SpornFilms 11 Mar 2007 08:39 am

Jason McDonald’s Champagne Bg’s

– As you saw in yesterday’s post, Champagne, the film, had an odd birth:
It went from the recorded documentary interview with Champagne, the girl, to improvised animation off the voice track.
Jason McDonald came in to storyboard the last half of the film and bring some structure into the life of Champagne, the character.
Jason also did all the backgrounds and color models as well as coloring a good part of the film, himself.

(Click on any image to enlarge for viewing.)

Here are some of his backgrounds:

The nuns are gathered around Champagne while she narrates her story. Jason highlighted the fake wall panelling that seems to have been everywhere in the convent. It was a good way of always letting us know where we were and at the same time giving a texture to the backgrounds.

The story takes Champagne back to the point where she’s a very young child whose mother was a drug addict who didn’t take proper care of her daughter. Jason brought a lot of black into this section of the film, and it seemed appropriate.

A good portion of the story takes place on the couch, as Champagne narrates. The story leads from the murder by her mother into her grandmother’s care. When the grandmother got ill, the convent took over.

The older Champagne talks about growing up in the shadow of the prison. Many treks to and from a number of different prisons to visit her mother.

A long bus ride takes Champagne to the prison. We move out of the deep reds and into the shadowy blues of the prison. The camera was close and trucked out and then back in again. It followed the path of the bus which was a cut-out cel that was animated under the camera. The BG, itself, was about 40 inches long, and it moved quickly through the short scene.

For one brief section, we leave Champagne to go into the mother’s life in prison. It’s really as viewed through the eyes of the young girl imagining her mother’s world – as informed only by what her mother has told her.

Inside the prison we take a long pan down the corridor to the cel of Champagne’s mother. There are several levels of bars moving at different speeds over this background. Blues and blacks are the predominant colors in our prison.

In the film, Champagne tells us what it’s like to make these visits. The entire routine is illustrated in animation from walking through metal detectors to the endless waiting in loud crowded – or empty rooms full of echoing noise. Green enters the prison surrounding Champagne. A warmth has entered the picture, though cubistic shapes separate everything into cubicles.

A lot of the last scenes of the film are depicted through fantasy. Champagne flies a lot moving through lots of black spiky clouds. Jason did interpret the dialogue in an uplifiting fantastic way, which worked well in depicting Champagne’s optimism. The backgrounds don’t generally get much brighter except in bits. This pan is about three times this length but a number of the overlaying clouds dominate the images.

4 Responses to “Jason McDonald’s Champagne Bg’s”

  1. on 11 Mar 2007 at 8:51 am 1.Mino said …

    Hi Michael

    I really want to see this animation is there any link which i can watch online?
    I’m doing similar thing, it’s a series of interviews about buses in london. Famous red and lovely but not so lovely in my animation though!

  2. on 11 Mar 2007 at 9:34 am 2.Michael said …

    The film is available in dvd from First Run Features as part of the series: The Films of Michael Sporn Vol.1. It comes with some extras: commentary track, documentary on the making-of, and a gallery of stills. It’s not available on line at the moment.

  3. on 12 Mar 2007 at 7:42 pm 3.Doug said …

    Hello Michael – Did Champagne continue working with you at your studio? What a terrific couple of posts.


  4. on 13 Mar 2007 at 6:59 am 4.Michael said …

    Champagne worked with us for about 12-15 months. She is now married with two children and living in Phoenix. She and Maxine Fisher still keep in touch.

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