An “abecedarian" is defined as a person learning their ABCs, or a beginner in all things. My film will combine live action and animation to make use of both concepts, referencing the structure of an abecedary (or alphabet book) and evoking the boundless imagination of a “beginner in all things.”
The actress, director, and casting director Natasha Yannacanedo is working with me on casting and performance for the live-action portions of the film. I am also very excited to be working with animator Sabina Hahn and composer Greg Karnilaw on this project. DP Juan Carlos Borrero is now on board, and our Associate Producer, Nick Barranco, has been hard at work for a few months now on A is for Aye-Aye. Together, we want to bring you the layered story of a young girl who wanders into an adult world and makes it her own, using the power of her imagination to create new worlds.
"A is for Aye-Aye" is inspired by The New York Public Library’s Picture Collection, located in the Mid-Manhattan Library (http://www.nypl.org/locations/tid/45/node/63128 ). The Picture Collection’s alphabetically organized folders of over 1 million image clippings have been providing inspiration to artists, historians, fashion designers, and filmmakers since the collection opened in 1915. A large part of its eccentric charm is the fact that its system of organization has changed little since the collection’s inception, which makes it an immensely rich scrapbook of visual culture filled with odd juxtapositions like “Avian development” and “Automata.”
A is for Aye-Aye opens with live-action footage of a nine year-old girl who walks down Fifth Avenue, past the majestic lions of The New York Public Library, and wanders into the Picture Collection. She takes a seat among adults studiously searching through piles of clippings and begins to examine a pile of folders on the desk in front of her. As she looks through them, she is sucked into an animated world created from the images in the folders; a world which pulls her through the alphabet and out the other side. This digital animation will be created using juxtaposed cut-outs of figures and settings from the Picture Collection. As the girl flips through various images from folders beginning with the letter A, she comes to the folder “Animals: A-L,” which contains a 19th Century engraving of an aye-aye, a lemur from Madagascar. The aye-aye suddenly jumps off the page and into a print from “Bathing beaches – 1899 & earlier,” where a Victorian bathing beauty shrieks and runs away, followed by the aye-aye, who bumps into a burglar held at gunpoint in an early Colt revolver advertisement (from the “Burglary” folder). In the confusion, the aye-aye escapes to “Castles: Germany,” where dancing “Costumes” from various eras are dancing. A “Dirigible” takes the aye-aye into a “Desert,” and the aye continues into a series of alphabetical worlds formed using images from the collection. Knights Knitting In Krygystan (K), Gauchos at Gibraltar (G), as well a Nurses and Newstands in Niagara Falls (N), are just a few of the alphabetical worlds the aye-aye will traverse.
At the end of this short film, a door will close in an image from “Zoological Gardens”, and the girl will find herself back in the real world, walking back up Fifth Avenue. As she passes the library's lions again, we see that a small procession of animated figures (the aye-aye, bathing beauty, burglar, a gaucho, a hypnotist, and Ice truck, etc.) are following behind her. Most of the procession will find their way into the main library as the aye-aye hops into the picture collection portfolio carried by the young girl, who walks down the avenue and out of frame.
In addition to digital downloads and DVDs, we have some other unique gifts for supporters We have the support of great donors like John Derian Company, who have donated 10 beautiful alphabetical plates, each decoupaged by hand onto handblown glass! Madiba Restaurant will host an exclusive screening of the completed film for donors of $150 or more. For $250, you can buy a letter and your name (or a friend's if you choose) will be prominently featured in the credits - "The Letter Y is brought to you by Your Name Here. And, for only $500, Managing Librarian of the Mid-Manhattan Library's Art & Picture Collections, Billy Parrot, will give you a behind-the-scenes tour of the Picture Collection, a truly amazing experience for any lover of print culture and visual ephemera.
WITH YOUR HELP, WE CAN MAKE A IS FOR AYE-AYE A REALITY
I plan to complete this film in time for the official celebrations of the Picture Collection's centennial in 2015. With your contributions, I will shoot the live action portion of the film, work with animator Sabina Hahn to create the animation, record the music composed by Greg Karnilaw, and edit the piece together in time to present it as my own birthday present to the Picture Collection. Please support us at any level and help us get the word out about this project. Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
All film projects encounter obstacles, and part of the excitement of directing and producing is solving them on the fly. But, every bit of preparation you do also helps.
My production team will be of extreme importance as I meet any challenges along the way. I have a very capable Associate Producer, Nicholas Barranco, working on the project and two fantastic student interns, Forest Erwin and Alex James. With the help of Casting and Performance Consultant Natasha Yannacanedo, Animator Sabina Hahn, Composer Greg Karnilaw, Editor Chris Arnold, and a community of Kickstarter backers, we will create an amazing film inspired by the New York Public Library's Picture Collection.
I have been researching images for this project since 2010, so I'm confident we can complete A is for Aye-Aye by the end of 2014. Problems and delays could occur, however, with outputs and with integrating live action footage and animation. Again, research and preparation should help us avoid such issues, but if we do encounter such delays, I will be sure to keep donors in the loop and to provide a revised time frame.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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