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Bartleby is a stop-motion short film by Kristen Kee and Laura Naylor about a stubborn office worker who prefers not to.
Bartleby is a stop-motion short film by Kristen Kee and Laura Naylor about a stubborn office worker who prefers not to.
184 backers pledged $23,553 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$23,553

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Old and new friends, we're all choked up -- we hit 20K! We're over the moon and want to say THANK YOU.

But wait wait wait, we're not done: our stretch goal is 30K! Here's what we hope to do with that final third:

(1) additional paper fantasy sequences (more ways for Bartleby's boss to imaginatively dispose of him, thus fully mapping boss-man's angst)

(2) more festivals around the world--those fees add up!

(3) good music, beautiful sounds -- because our creatures don't speak aloud, the audio (sound design, music composition) will do all the emotive heavy lifting (it's got to be on point and won't be free).

Prefer to keep helping us, please! <3

  Bartleby is a classic tale of how to waste one’s life in a modern office. And of how to stop doing that. Sort of. Our story begins as a handful of motley attorneys putter away in their open office cubes, led by a limp, uninspiring boss -- until Bartleby arrives(!). And with him the notion of opting out. Of saying nope, no, I don’t think so. Actually, I would prefer not to. I would very much prefer not to. What is a boss to do…? Let’s not spoil the ending.

We can’t make this stuff up. No, we actually did not make it up at all. Bartleby the short film is an adaptation of Herman Melville’s novella of the same name. But instead of the Wall Street of 1853, it’s set in the Wall Street of ~2011, amidst the tumult of protest. And our Bartleby is a stop motion film -- wherein puppets are painstakingly animated and photographed at 24 frames per second, and the images strung together like a flip book. Our creatures speak in animated text, their anxieties manifest in paper hallucinations.

The impetus for dear Bartleby was our (Laura and Kristen’s) shared history -- we met as peons in a finance tower in midtown -- and the medium (stop-motion) neatly leveraged both of our skill sets (film / sculpture). Once hatched, our vision of Bartleby iterated its way through 2014, and we finally finished the script in early 2015. Then it was onto the build. Over many months and drafts of paper, clay, wire, and grit, we sculpted a cast of silicone puppets to act out our story:

We created and stitched our storyboards into a video to serve as a map for shooting, and, finally, with the expertise and sweat of our fabrication team, by the end of the year we’d designed and crafted 5 meticulous miniature sets and peppered our micro-world with hundreds of hand-made props:

And all this before we could even start production (#ohwow).  

We’ve been shooting since January of this year, and every day we generate 8-10 seconds of animation -- working >8 hour days, 5 days per week, we have over 6 minutes of footage (yes, stop motion is s l o w).

We have 5 more minutes of animation left to shoot, and that’s what we’re plugging away on each day. After we finish shooting (in ~May), we’ll need to hire a skilled After Effects animator to coax thousands of tiny letters into flying, tumbling, pouring and zipping around Bartleby’s world -- because our film is silent & text plays a starring role. We also need a talented paper animator to help create the boss-man’s visions of how he might dispose of Bartleby (poor fellow). On top of all that, we’ll need dough for editing, sound design (every sound in the film will need to be created and added), music composition, and color correction. It’s a fat mountain of work to transform the thousands of still photographs we’ll end up with into slick movie magic.

We can’t finish Bartleby without your help. With your warm dollars we’ll finish the film, put a glossy bow on top and submit it to dozens of film festivals around the universe/world... where Bartleby’s essential modern story can be told over and over and over and over again. And again.

Kickstarter is an all or nothing game. And our goal is the bare, skin-of-teeth-minimum to finish this creature and to share it -- with you! With all the peoples. Otherwise, what’s the point? So please, kind humans, bring out your dollars.

With gratitude,
US

Laura fell for images, moving and not-so-mobile, while studying art at Columbia. Her directorial debut, Duck Beach -- a feature doc about Mormon singles trying to tie the knot -- premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and aired on BBC 3 in the UK. Her second feature, The Fix, premiered at AFI Docs, won the jury prize for Best Documentary at SIFF, and was pegged a “poignant portrait of life in recovery” by The Hollywood Reporter. After creating a stop-motion sequence for one of her docs, she said YES PLEASE to making more tiny cinematic worlds.

Kristen is an artist who makes neon sculptures, big rubber charts, and jargon collages -- and exhibits them in spots like New York, Berlin, and Paris. She has a degree in Sculpture from a reputable MFA shop (Yale) and studied glass-making at Pilchuck. Prior to Bartleby, she created several stop-motion shorts -- including Grapefruit, wherein dried grapefruit halves act out Yoko Ono’s book -- and has been making Bartleby-like creatures since junior high. She fabricates kinked neon in Brooklyn (alongside her girlfriend Taryn and their dog Butter).

Zach is a Brooklyn-born stop-motion focused director of photography. He has worked on numerous film and television productions including Broad City, Blacklist, Luke Cage and Wolf of Wall Street. His cinematography work with Crown Chimp garnered him an Emmy and he has since shot for very talented directors like Drew Lightfoot (Corpse Bride).

Josh is a Brooklyn-based stop-motion animator and production designer originally from North Carolina. His work as Lead Animator on Leah Meyerhoff’s debut film, I Believe in Unicorns, has been lauded by critics. His work has also been featured on Portlandia, CollegeHumor and The Magic of Heineken. His award-winning short films Awaken and Bolt have screened at festivals worldwide. He is currently in production on Capsule, a stop-motion sci-fi short film starring Tim Blake Nelson.

Amanda is an award-winning producer whose most recent animated short, Cadaver starring Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Tavi Gevinson (Enough Said) and Kathy Bates (Misery) was long-listed for an Academy Award and screened at dozens of major festivals worldwide. It was also featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Vogue, Elle, Onion A.V. Club, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Amanda holds an MFA in Writing for Cinema and Television from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Josh has built successful media production companies from the ground-up, including a custom stop-motion animation studio, fabrication workshop, and post-production facility, where he managed a team of over 40 animators and designers. He produced Tim Blake Nelson's film, Anesthesia, starring Kristen Stewart, Sam Waterston and Glenn Close, distributed by IFC Films. His HBO animated film from directors Liz Swados, David Wachtenheim, and Robert Marianetti, with producer Roz Lichter, features the voices of Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Armisen. Josh also produced Hollidaysburg, from executive producers Chris Moore, Josh Shader, Neal Dodson and Zachary Quinto.

Chelsea has over twelve years experience working as a freelance artist specializing in miniature sets, puppets, props, and animation. In 2007 Chelsea was selected to represent the United States in DRIME, an international digital media partnership held in France. While overseas Chelsea created an animated short, earning her a return trip to France and a run in festivals. Ms. Manifold has created original award-winning animated shorts and commercial projects alike, and in 2012 a commercial short she animated and fabricated for won an Emmy. Her clients have included Heineken, The Discovery Channel, Sony, Motorola, and College Humor.

Ron Cole has been working as an artist focusing on special effects and stop motion animation for over 30 years. His list of credits includes TV commercials like The Pillsbury Doughboy and the Norelco Razor Christmas ads and feature presentations such as The Muppets Treasure Island and the Back to the Future Ride for Universal Studios Theme Parks.

Emily is a women's clothing designer and product stylist in Brooklyn, NY.

Risks and challenges

Stop-motion is two things (among other things): risky and challenging. Every ~8 second shot (that takes a day to shoot) is rife with risks -- that we will bump the table and have to start the shot all over, for example -- and the challenge of laboring day after day in a windowless room on the generally time-intensive, non-commercial labor of affection that is stop-motion film-making. When everything about a medium screams "you should prefer not to", therein lies a delicious risk. And a hard to pass up challenge. God bless stop-motion.

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    WHO’S THE BOSS

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    Cool off* and file your cares away with this 1” tall fan and 3” wide gray balsa wood filing cabinet.

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    You will get a meticulously hand-sculpted toilet* (4”) and sink (5”). In all seriousness the toilet is our second favorite prop (after the bookshelf).

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Funding period

- (30 days)