Laika | An original Czech puppet film
Laika | An original Czech puppet film
Czech filmmaker, animator and puppeteer Aurel Klimt needs your help to finish his ambitious feature film Laika.
Czech filmmaker, animator and puppeteer Aurel Klimt needs your help to finish his ambitious feature film Laika. Read more
Aurel Klimt’s Laika is a touching tale of the relationship between humanity and the rest of the universe set against the backdrop of the frantic era of space exploration. After seven long years of exhaustive production, this 90 minute feature following the proud tradition of old Czech puppet masters is finally nearing completion.
But in order to finish its post-production and get Laika out there, we need your help.
“Laika’s plot may seem like a fairytale, but it’s far from that. Even though it operates within the realms of the genre, I always need to frame the story with elements from the real world. And some of Laika’s darker undercurrents will definitely speak more to an adult audience.” (Aurel Klimt)
Life is not easy for Laika, a stray dog living in the outskirts of a freezing Russian city. She spends her days relentlessly scouring the streets for food for her beloved and always hungry pups.
One day, she’s captured and handed over to a research institute where she undergoes a drastic and rapid training that transforms her into a space explorer. And off she goes into the unknown, smuggling her pups in her spacecraft.
Once they land on a mysterious planet called Qem, they find an extraterrestrial version of paradise.
Meanwhile, the tough fight of global powers over dominance has only begun. Russia sends its first envoy, astronaut and national hero Yuri Leftkin and another global superpower is soon to follow with their representative – a greedy specimen called Neil Knockout.
Soon, they arrive to Qem and the race to conquer space becomes a battle of rapacious humans and peace-loving inhabitants of the planet.
Laika is a tragic character in the history of space exploration – a sacrifice to science on a one-way mission to space. She doesn’t die in this film though – she becomes a heroine in a completely different way.
“The main theme of Laika is humankind’s relationship to animals, nature and the entire universe. It’s a topic that defies time and should be the absolute centre of discussion for our entire civilization.” (Aurel Klimt)
“For over ten years, I've had the opportunity of seeing Aurel sweat blood on a daily basis. The amount of work, persistence and patience needed to pull this off, to get this far is absolutely incomprehensible. After ten years, he's nearly there and there's just a small step remaining.” (Prof. Jiří Kubíček, Prague's Film and TV School FAMU)
It might escape the viewer at first, but making a stop-motion animated film with puppets, let alone one that spans the length of 90 minutes, is a truly painstaking ordeal. And since Klimt is a true follower of the proud and long-lasting tradition of Czech puppetry established by the likes of Jiří Trnka and Břetislav Pojar, he's not the one to take shortcuts.
The fact that Laika is Czech Republic’s first properly stereoscopic animated film doesn’t exactly make things easier either. And it’s not just a gimmick.
"The technology for this work is a classic animation of puppets with mechanical frames, in environments that are digitally recorded in 3D. It's a fluid connection between the advantages of hand-made animation and the possibilities of state-of-the-art digital technology with immediate control of animation and 3D effects. I feel that using 3D is rather apt for what's basically a work of science-fiction, especially during the scenes in space." (Aurel Klimt)
One of the Chiodo Brothers, Stephen is responsible for special effects, clay modelling or animatronics for works like The Simpsons or Team America.
Giannalberto is an animation historian, prolific author, and professor. He is best known for his book Cartoons − 100 Years of Cinema Animation, a comprehensive guide through the history and development of animation worldwide.
Laika started off as a puppet play in a small theatre in Prague, Czech Republic, all the way back in 2002. It was a play meant for both children and their parents, who were still able to remember the absurdity and oppressive nature of the previous regime, which Klimt’s play has mocked relentlessly.
“It was amazing to be able to receive an immediate feedback from the audience, be able to hone the material over the course of many many repeats. The play was a live organism and a lot of the improvements on the original material can be seen in the film, even though it’s obviously a different format.” (Aurel Klimt)
Next year, Japanese TV station NHK produced a documentary on Břetislav Pojar and Aurel Klimt and has provided resources for Klimt to film an animated sequence of one of the scenes from the play. That’s now known as Laika’s pilot.
In the following years, Klimt has started working on making Laika into a three-part film. Working on an animated film with limited resources is difficult and therefore the progress was rather slow. It was first necessary to acquire and master the various technologies required for this project, for instance, Klimt has spent the entirety of 2009 mastering the science of stereography in order to make his use of the technology as good as it can possibly be.
The filming has started in 2010 and hasn’t stopped until now, when the last seconds of the material are being filmed. In terms of resources, that’s taken care of. The post-production though, is a different story. One that needs your help in order to have a happy ending.
If all goes well, Laika is set to premiere 3rd November 2017, the 60th anniversary of Laika’s flight into space.
€75.000 – Official soundtrack from the film & Bluray gets a 3D boost
Every backer receives a download of the official soundtrack from Laika composed and arranged by Miroslav Wanek and Marek Doubrava. Also, all Blurays will now come in two versions – 2D and 3D for all backers who bought any rewards featuring a Bluray of Laika.
€80.000 – Making of Laika + deleted / bonus scenes
We'll automatically add an extensive 'Making of Laika' download to each and every backer. Get ready for an intense behind-the-scenes look into the extensive production of the film. Also, we'll include a download of deleted / extra scenes from the film.
€85.000 – A Director's commentary version of Laika
We'll make an extra edition of Laika featuring Aurel Klimt's running commentary on all the parts of the film.
€90.000 – Aurel Klimt's previous films – digitally restored
Once we get past this mark, we'll be able to fully digitize Aurel Klimt's Mashkin Kills Mashkin, The Fall and Bloody Hugo and make them available in HD to all backers who bought the 'Stream Laika in HD' reward and above.
AUREL KLIMT (*1972) – screenwriter, director & producer
Laika’s all-in-one director, producer and scriptwriter Aurel Klimt is an accomplished filmmaker. His mentors include the famous Břetislav Pojar (Lion and the Song, Balablok) or FAMU's Prof. Jiří Kubíček. His work transcends the label of a mere entertainment for children which is often attributed to animated films and it often includes scathing social commentary.
He is used to sitting on multiple chairs when it comes to his film or theatre work – in the past, he has taken the role of an executive producer, scriptwriter, editor, animator, director, scenographer or sometimes even a set designer. Since 1999, he has been teaching at Prague's Film and TV School FAMU where he also directed the Department of Animation between 2006 and 2015. In 2003, he established his Studio Zvon where has been working on Laika since 2007. Over the course of his creative career, Klimt has used a variety of styles and techniques in his award-winning films. For instance, his latest short film Glass Works combines CGI, motion capture and classic animation.
MARTIN VELÍŠEK (*1963) – art direction, designer
Velíšek is an internationally renowned artist known for his ability to create compelling and bizarre worlds worlds full of absurd humour. Over the course of his life, he has made countless paintings, glass sculptures, posters and book illustrations. His work was part of exhibitions all over the world, including NYC, Seattle, Paris, Stockholm or Helsinki.
FRANTIŠEK LIPTÁK (*1962) – art direction, designer
František 'Fero' Lipták has spent the first part of his creative life working as a scenographer for pretty much every single theatre in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. His vast imagination has helped more than 90 plays come to life, many of which were awarded at international festivals. Since 1991, he focuses primarily on film, even though once in a while, he creates paintings that are highly sought-after both by private collectors and galleries from all over the world.
Risks and challenges
Aurel is a professional filmmaker. He's already got countless successful productions behind himself and the project is at an extremely advanced stage. Literally the only thing holding it back at the moment is the lack of funds for post-production, and to be honest, that's a relatively straightforward process compared to what the rest of the production was like.
The only thing which matters is reaching the goal. If we get there, we are positive we'll be able to deliver, and all of that thanks to you.
- (22 days)