There comes a day when you have to justify yourself to the TV audience. What a happy day. This is my first appearance promoting After Death Before Hell on LTV, national TV, so be kind.
Much thanks for the Kinfo crew. Great people.
We are moving at fast pace - in this picture you can spot Elmer and his crime-buddy racing to catch the train full of cashiola.
This means we (by we I mean Džiugas) are already through to 1/4th of a film.
Patience is a virtue, they say. With animation it’s twice that.
And so the work begins. This is officially the first drawing from the film. Tumblr this space for more.
Meet the hero of the movie.
Alive and dead.
His name is Elmer McCurdy. Poor bastard if only he knew that one day he will have a team of madmen working on a film about his miserable yet strangely entertaining life.
Drawings by Džiugas Valančauskas.
This was the video for Kickstarter. It introduces me & Dziugas (the animator) and tells a quick story of what is it all about.
The whole story
LAZY ONES, READ IT ALL IN A FEW SENTENCES:
This short animation film won’t be about cute animals or nutty robots - it will tell an unbelievable, yet true story of a petty criminal, probably the unluckiest crook who has ever cursed the Earth with his presence.
His name is Elmer McCurdy and he will die foolishly while very young.
But only then will his adventures start to unfold.
He will change appearances, he will travel hundreds of miles.
After Death, Before Hell will follow his life for almost 100 years since his death and will document the eye-popping voyages of his flesh.
This is both a funny and a sad tale. It will be drawn by hand, animated in a studio, brought to life by a proper soundtrack and promoted in all possible film festivals.
IF YOU HAVE TIME, READ THE LONG(ER) STORY:
IT STARTED IN 2009.
I was flipping through a brick sized book of ingenious designer Alan Fletcher The Art Of Looking Sideways and stumbled upon a short paragraph on some Elmer McGurdy, who was named the least successful criminal ever.
This alone was enough to suddenly getme excited and agitated. I’ve been working in creative industries for the last 16 years and finally thought to be ready to fulfill my life-long dream of creating a movie.
Unexplainably (was I quietly influenced by Chris Ware? Charles Burns? Miyazaki? Harvey Pekar?) I have always thought that animation is the most electrifying form of filmmaking.
The story and the form clicked. And I’ve started writing a screenplay that took two weeks to finish, with a further half a year to polish the words, ideas and scenes. It was pure bliss.
Then the disappointing part began. I’ve contacted my favorite animators worldwide with a proposal to turn the screenplay into drawings and was greeted with the same reaction: they loved the script, but couldn’t do it for free as it was a hell of a time consuming project. [To put it simply.] They needed to get paid. So after more than two years of passive search for support, finally, I’ve found Kickstarter and was amazed by the willingness and good spirit of its backers.
"Wait a minute, why can’t we apply for those good graces as well?", I thought about this and rang my friend to be a part of Kickstarter campaign. He said "yes" immediately.
Now let’s get back to the story and the idea itself.
Unbelievably true, sorrowful and laugh-filled tale is told about Elmer McCurdy, an Oklahoma bandit, who failed at everything in life.
His mama left him when he was little. He was a drunk when he was barely grown. He robbed a train with the least amount of loot in history. At thirty-one, he was shot by the sheriff.
And it took sixty-six years to bury him, after his death in 1911.
Once dead, Elmer McCurdy made more money than he had ever dared to dream about. Once embalmed, he advertised funeral services for several years and, since he was a never-before-observed exhibit, travelled with a carnival and wound up in a couple of movies, in a museum of crime and, later on, in a wax museum and in an amusement park. Finally, as he was being filmed for a TV show, his arm was broken off. Something that looked like a bone within it was exposed. The forensic evidence confirmed that the mummy was indeed a human being—Elmer McCurdy.
The film tells this story from the point where Elmer McCurdy and his buddy are cornered and surrounded by police after an unsuccessful train robbery. Elmer confesses to his buddy in the final moments of his life. He shouts, “You’ll never take me alive,” and then he is shot dead.
The film is presented from the perspective of an impartial narrator who talks about the events as if from a story or a book.
This nearly never-ending tale moves on in increasingly incredible leaps.
The film ends with a funeral and a grave covered in cement. Elmer will never rise from it again—most probably.
If you’re not familiar with production of animation, there are several important costs: drawings of characters and surroundings, animation/motion of the characters, sound production, soundtrack and graphics.
The last three are covered by the crew who are up for it - they see it as a great way to create something lasting and beautiful. Now, drawing and animation - that’s a whole different story.
They are super labour intense. It takes hours to create tiny pieces of the re-imagined world. Hours = wages, wages = budgets. So that’s why we were seeking 10 000 pounds on Kickstarter.
30 per cent of this budget will go towards drawings, 30% for animation, and the rest for the narrator, sound effects and soundtrack. 10k is the cheapest possible price that does not require sacrificing on quality. And it shall all be done in less than half a year, sometime by May or June, 2013.
We failed to gather funds by the deadline. But the work goes on.
HAND AND THE LINE.
Motion is a slooow process because if you do it right and want it to have a soul - you will have to draw it old school with just a little help from the machines. That way you get the olden days motion, not the Manga-styled robotic motion. So it will take patience and time.
I would be lying if I described this film to be nothing more than just an after-hours vanity project. I will seek to take it to festivals worldwide as long as they will accept it. There are loads of European and international short film programmes, with windows of opportunity for debuting/young filmmakers. I’m positive a few of those windows will be open for After Death, Before Hell.
I hope your curiosity will be tickled by this film. If not - tell your friends. If not, well, I’m delighted you read it all. In any way, I’m sure that I will get it made and prove to the world that animation can be so much more than infantile Hollywood 3D factory.
Godspeed us all!
Tomas Ramanauskas, scriptwriter & director.