The Orbit of Minor Satellites is my new digital 2-D animated feature film, which takes you to the richly imagined world inside the mind of a troubled sanitarium inmate.
It’s a dark story about love in a time of darkness, shot starkly in black and white to better convey the dislocation of my main characters, the psychiatric patient and the doctor who treats her, and the imagined inhabitants of a forgotten Cold War space station on a moon of Saturn.
I’m thrilled to share with you that Sara Karloff, the daughter of my personal film hero Boris Karloff, has given me permission to use clips from her father’s radio performances for the voice of another major character in the film, a 100-foot-tall talking bison named Roger Ashley Norton.
"The Orbit of Minor Satellites" is a film that has been brewing for many years, and first came together thanks to a Creative Capital Grant. I’ve focused over the past two years on writing, preproduction, experimentation, and animating labor, bringing together an incredible creative team who will work with me to complete the film over the next two years.
With your pledge, I will complete "The Orbit of Minor Satellites” by late summer of 2019, entering it first in major live action festivals and then in animation festivals. It will be theatrically released in early 2020.
This is my second major animated feature film. Consuming Spirits, which was funded with a Rockefeller Foundation Film Fellowship and a fellowship from The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, was completed and released in 2012.
A.O. Scott, in a 2012 review in The New York Times, called it “remarkable” and said it "is a work of obsessive artisanal discipline and unfettered artistic vision. You have never seen anything like it… Mr. Sullivan’s pictorial wit and storytelling brio are delightful in ways that cut against the harshness of the story without blunting its deep ache."
Tasha Robinson, The Onion AV club. "Watching Consuming Spirits is like surrendering to hypnosis, or to a particularly haunting dream"..."Consuming Spirits has hidden depths".
About the Film
The Orbit of Minor Satellites is a story of two very distinct and separate worlds that are connected by the most unlikely threads. The character Derwood Richards is a controversial psychiatrist who treats Rosemary Hamm at his private sanitarium.
Rosemary has created an imaginery world of a space station located on one of the Moons of Saturn, in a forgotten corner of the solar system. She conjures a romance between a doomed astronaut and a cosmonaut that mirrors her difficult earthbound existence.
Our talking bison is the moon's only native inhabitant, a sulferdioxide breathing giant who yearns for lost loves.
The Orbit of Minor Satellites is a hand drawn 2-D feature animation, independently produced by Chris Sullivan and his battalion of animators.
The film is hand drawn, digitally composited over painted backgrounds, models, and live action actors. As with all of my films, it is strange in form and content, my characters are misguided, but follow their strange paths to a place of peace, and empathy .
As in The Orbit of Minor Satellites, we all orbit around a larger celestial body of some kind. An emotional parent, an over achieving sister, or brother, a history, a place, and perhaps the most common, the strange unreachable person that we hoped we would be. In orbit around our potential selves, at some point we escape the gravity of that planet, and drift into outer space either in relief or permanent longing.
Assistant animators, background artists Compositors, $42,000
Musical composition and performance, recording $8,000
Actors/ voice talent. $20,000
Amazing Animation Team
Director, and Actors
Chris Sullivan is the creator, writer, director, lead animator, and sound design. His previous animated films include Master of Ceremonies, Landscape with The Fall of Icarus, and Consuming Spirits
T.J. Jagodowski, who portrays the character Derwood Richards, is a comedian and actor who has appeared in movies such as Stranger Than Fiction, The Ice Harvest, No Sleep Till Madison, Get Hard and the television show, Prison Break. He is most recognizable from the long-running series of improvised Sonic Drive-In commercials featuring himself and Peter Grosz.
Silvia Abelson portrays Rosemary Hamm and Olga Liavanova. Graduate in Art and Theater from Beloit College She has performed the film, in Opera Is Always On The Table, and the play by DETROIT by Lisa D'Amour. spring 2016 .
Jared Larson plays the characters Hershel Browning and John Torrington. He is an improvisational actor with Chicago's I.O. Annoyance Theater, and has performed in Crimes Against Humanity, Busters Mal Heart and Neighborhood Food Drive.
Bris Karloff- The Voice of The Buffalo - Frankenstein-The Raven-Drury's Bones-Bedlam-The Scorcerers-The Grinch That Stole Christmas- hundreds more.
I will be working with Chicago-based trio Artemisia, who will sing in both English and Russian, I also compose music, and that will be a part of the film as well. Musicians will sing and play standard and prepared instruments. Sarah Noel McConnell will be recorded singing in a natural acoustic spaces.
Here is a clip of Wild Geese, an Ian Tyson Sound sung by Sarah Noel McConnell with Chris Sullivan on Guitar. recorded in an apartment stairwell. This song plays at a tragic moment on the space station.
For Your Contribution to this Project you will receive original drawings like these, not scans but actual pencil drawings. framed. Also there are story boards, backgrounds, and many other awards, please check them out in the pledge awards section.
Original signed Pencil Cells from the film.
Risks and challenges
One of the main risk and challenges is that an animated feature
Is like a car in pieces in the garage until it all falls into place,
So it is hard to get a sense of the film before it is completed.
The kinds of films that I make are not defined so much by character goals, but the subtle, very human elements that surface in the everyday, and in moments of crisis, because of this, my scripts do not read like a classical three act structure. They unfold instead as oddly and surprisingly- the object of desire is not obvious until the end. And even then it is elusive. Therefore my films sneak up on you. It is the kind of cinema I want to make, like John Cassavetes, Jane Campion, Dennis Potter, Charlie Kaufman. But it is not the kind of cinema that stands a chance in a producers' script mill. On the other hand, I have great expectations for this film, and plan to reach theaters across the state with it.
To me the true challenge is to create a film that has importance, power, beauty, and emotional impact. And to me it is a responsibility. I can see the film in front of me, and it has its own will and its own power. I just have to listen to it and guide it.
- (27 days)