Any parent today can attest that there's not enough quality film content for children anymore, and certainly not many films that an entire family - young children, teens, tweens, parents, and grandparents - enjoy watching together. At Athena Studios, we have set out to create an animated feature film that our own kids would be excited to see.
To do that we've optioned the award-winning children's Christmas book, Auntie Claus,from author Elise Primavera, and are developing an animated trailer and pitch package to adapt into a marvelous stop-motion film. This film will go out for funding to major studios for a proposed theatrical release of November, 2016.
Auntie Claus is that rare story capable of bringing families together
for a classic movie-going experience. It not only captures the magic and wonder
of Christmas, it also communicates a powerful theme about selflessness and
A TEASER TO OUR TEASER?
Well, sort of. We wanted to give people an idea of what the pitch trailer and film would look like. So we put together this short sample on October 11th with some pieces from the pitch trailer that we're working on. While the final feature film will have a slightly different look to it than this does, it gives a pretty good idea of the quality that we are putting into the film. I hope that you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
MAKE MAGAZINE CRASHES THE SET
Make Magazine stopped by recently to see what we were doing on the film. Here's the video they shot for Make: Believe while visiting the studio.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Part Auntie Mame and part Coco Chanel, Sophie Kringle's glamorous great-aunt lives in a penthouse atop Manhattan's Bing Cherry Hotel. Auntie Claus disappears every holiday season on a mysterious business trip and, determined to discover her destination, Sophie stows away and follows her. Primavera's illustrations, which remain at the core of our production design, are brilliant and eye-catching. She has created a world populated with fascinating characters and an adventure that leaps off the page -- and hopefully onto a movie screen near you!
ABOUT THE STUDIO
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Athena Studios has joined forces with some of the world's best animation talent to create this film. We have stop-motion, VFX, and animation superstars from Laika, Mackinnon & Saunders, Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation Studios already hard at work on the film, bringing their vast production experience from films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and Star Wars. You can learn more about who is involved in our “about the filmmakers section.
We love stop-motion animation as an art form as much as a unique storytelling medium. It's real. It's tactile. It brings art disciplines together in a way that no other film-making process does -- specialties like puppet fabrication, set design and construction, costume creation, scenic painting, fur and cloth miniaturization, armature design, motion control camera setup, physical lighting design, and tedious frame-by-frame miniature photography. It requires long hours of physical labor coaxing performances from tiny articulated puppets - and the results are tangible.
When you walk onto a stop-motion stage, your nose is immediately filled with a bouquet of fresh lumber, paint, hot glue, plastic, clay, gaffer tape, lamps, foam, coffee, and cameras. It's intoxicating. A stop motion film is a chance for grown-ups to create miniature worlds and play in them like children -- but with the discipline of experienced filmmakers and the dedicated eye of professional artists. It's like no other film-making process. .
Feature stop-motion is at a crossroads right now. Because it's been used to tell a few "darker" stories in recent years, some have undeservedly characterized it as a medium for the creepy or macabre. It wasn't always that way though. Most of our filmmakers grew up with the Rankin/Bass holiday TV specials like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. They vividly remember a time when stop-motion was associated with the Christmas season and brighter more cheerful stories. Auntie Claus recalls that fond legacy, while building on the pioneering techniques of the modern stop-motion classics. We intend to bring back some of the art form's brighter fantasy roots -- AND use it to celebrate the holiday film genre in an exciting, fun-for-the-whole-family cinematic experience.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Meet some of the key filmmakers who have been working to bring this book to life.
Jon Peters | Producer
A former industrial designer and model-maker, Jon brings 30 years of experience in media production for film, video and the web. His award-winning work has been featured in Forbes, Wired, Adweek, Print and a number of other publications. His educational company Athena Online broke new ground in both adult learning and web delivery. Jon is a Board Member of the Bay Area Visual Effects Society.
Brice Parker | Producer
Brice joined Athena Studios in 2012, bringing 20 years of Visual Effects and feature animation experience from Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar and ESC Studios. His work includes the Matrix, Batman and Jurassic Park franchises, as well as 8 years managing and producing projects for Pixar Animation Studios. Brice is a Board Member of the Bay Area Visual Effects Society.
Kat Alioshin | Production Manager
Kat started work with stop motion animation back in the late 80's with Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation. Twenty-six years of commercial, TV, and feature work in stop motion animation. A small taste of the projects Kat has worked on include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Life with Loopy, Devil Went Down to Georgia, James and the Giant Peach, Monkeybone, and Corpse Bride.
Pete Kozachik | Director of Photography
An accomplished cinematographer and VFX supervisor for thirty years, Pete has supervised on a variety of VFX and stop-motion films including Robocop 3, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Coraline, and Corpse Bride.
Tom Proost | Art Director
Tom's background includes art directing, visual effects and model making for feature films. He has worked for such visionary studios as Laika, Industrial Light and Magic, and Colossal Pictures for such films as Coraline, the Star Wars prequels, Matrix 2 & 3, Lemony Snicket, The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.
Lauren Vogt | Model-Making and Puppet Fabrication
An experienced Model-maker, Puppet Fabricator, Costume Specialist, and Animatronics Engineer, Lauren has thirty years of experience working on films as varied as Enemy Mine, Naked Lunch, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Coraline.
Tim Taylor | Cinematographer and Motion Control Engineer
A Motion Control Engineer and Camera Assistant for ILM, Colossal, Laika, and Disney, Tim has worked on a variety of films from Back to the Future Part II to Con Air, Coraline, and Frankenweenie.
Merrick Cheney | Armature Builder
One of the world's most experienced puppet armature designers, Merrick has contributed characters and armatures to films ranging from Robocop2 and 3 to Starship Troopers, Frankenweenie, Coraline, Corpse Bride, James and the Giant Peach, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Nick Blake | Modelmaker, Rigger
Nick has years of FX experience as a motion-control technician, animation rigger and as a prop and model builder for such productions as RoboCop2, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, The Mummy Returns, Bicentennial Man and the stop-motion animation TV series Bump In The Night.
Victoria Rose Zalewski | Puppet Design and Fabrication
An accomplished puppet fabricator, costume seamstress, and toy maker, Victoria has worked on a variety of projects from Coraline, to A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. She has also worked on an array of commercials, including Planter's Peanuts.
Katy Moore-Kozachik | Scenic Artist
An Art Department scenic painter and visual effects roto/paint artist, Katy has worked on several stop motion productions including Coraline and Corpse Bride.
Damon Bard | Character Sculptor
Damon works as a freelance artist in the entertainment industry primarily as a sculptor but also as a character development artist and designer of characters and creatures. He's contributed to nearly 30 films and other various projects during his career including Kung Fu Panda II, How To Train Your Dragon, Coraline, Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille, Shrek 2, Star Wars: Episode 3 and Madagascar.
More artists, musicians and filmmakers are joining us weekly. By contributing you'll get the inside scoop on who is joining our world-class crew for this pitch.
THE DESIGN OF AUNTIE CLAUS
It all starts with the art and the story. We have worked with some fantastic people on the creation of both. Here are just a few behind the scenes shots.
Hollywood has changed. The old ways of acquiring film funding are disappearing. Even some prominent filmmakers are turning toward crowd-sourcing to help develop their visions AND prove to prospective studios & distributors that audiences exist for their projects.
We firmly believe Auntie Claus can become a treasured holiday classic that audiences will enjoy year after year. We cannot do it without you though. So far, we have paid for everything out of our own pockets, but that is a very limited resource. Your contribution will finance the talent and supplies needed to bring this film to life -- it will help pay the artists who have dedicated months of their time to creating our Animation Teaser, pay for puppet fabrication and materials, set construction, camera and lighting packages, 3D printing, studio time for sound mixing and more.
We are asking for the absolute minimum to complete our goal of completing this pitch package.
Keep in mind that after fees, taxes and fulfillment we will ultimately only receive about
one half of what we raise through Kickstarter. And remember, that if we do not reach our minimum goal we get nothing.
The cost to pay for everything that is being done in this pitch package is much closer to $200,000. We could really use twice as much to create an even more impressive pitch package and increase our odds of success.
If we can raise more than what we are asking for it means we can do additional artwork, development, better leave behinds for the studios and a marketing campaign to create more industry buzz. All toward our goal of creating a feature length film for children and starting a new studio that can employ 200 artists in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Thank you for your support of our Auntie Claus film production!
What’s in it for you? We have some pretty cool gifts that you’ll see listed. More importantly, however, as a contributor you will be on the ground floor as we work toward the creation of this wonderful film. You will receive a behind the scenes look at how we put together our pitch package and you will be able to follow our progress as we contact and pitch to the studios in LA. This is a great opportunity for an aspiring filmmaker or anyone looking to enter the field to get a real look at how it all comes together.
Below are pictures of some of our fabulous giveaway items for each level of donation. Keeping checking back for updates!
Risks and challenges
There is no risk to those donating on Kickstarter. If we raise the funds needed we will complete our goal of creating a final pitch package. If we raise more it will improve the quality and allow us to do more with audio, finishing and pitch materials.
Our Animation Teaser and these materials are a part of a comprehensive pitch package, which we will use to acquire complete feature funding. The biggest hurdle we face will be acquiring the funding to produce the final feature film of Auntie Claus, which will cost over 40 million dollars. We have spent months of production planning with experienced team of producers and production managers to determine the exact cost of the film, the crew needed and a timeline for its release. It is our intent to acquire financing and distribution by the end of 2013 so that we are in production by 2014, and delivering the film for a holiday 2016 release.
Regardless of whether the Auntie Claus feature is funded or not, Kickstarter contributors will receive the reward items as outlined.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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