About this project
Frequently Asked Questions
WELCOME TO MY KICKSTARTER PAGE...
My name is Michel Gagné, and I've been a professional animator since 1985. Throughout my career, I've worked for many studios including Don Bluth, Electronic Arts, Cartoon Network, Pixar, Nickelodeon, Disney, and many more. In 2001, I left my position as Head of Special Effetcs at Warner Brothers Feature Animation, so that I could pursue being a full time independent artist. I had always done personal work after hours and on weekends, but with my departure from Hollywood, I was hoping that from then on, I could make my art the primary focus of my career. In 2002, I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and began working seriously toward that dream.
Since leaving the studios and becoming a full time independent artist, I have done books, graphic novels, short films, a video game, live performances, etc, while at the same time, continuing my affiliation with the movie, television and game industries as a freelancer.
And now, I feel ready to tackle my dream of making an independent animated feature film.
THE SAGA OF REX: THE MOVIE IN MY HEAD
THE SAGA OF REX is labor of love that reflects my deep love for science fiction, strange creatures, otherwordly concepts, and classical animation. When I created THE SAGA OF REX graphic novel, I literally saw it as a movie in my head and treated the whole thing as a fully art directed storyboard. I saw the characters, the effects and the landscapes move in my mind's eye, and tried to convey as much of that feeling as I could on the pages.
A COSMIC LOVE STORY
THE SAGA OF REX is the story of a little fox who gets abducted by a flying saucer and is transported to the planet Edernia, where he encounters the Blossoms, a race of shape shifters.
One of the Blossoms, chooses Rex as a potential mate and so the adventure begins. Rex must prove his worth and Aven, the shapeshifting Blossom, must conquer Rex’s heart.
It’s a love story. It’s an adventure. It’s an epic journey into an alien world. I am convinced that it will make a fascinating and beautiful film.
A 1½ TO 4 MINUTE SHORT FILM AT FIRST
So, how do I go about making a film of THE SAGA OF REX? Here's my concept: My first goal, before diving into a feature length film is to make a short film. The short will be a self-contained section of the feature film and will be used for the second round of financing (which may or may not necessarily be on Kickstarter). Preferably, the short film will be 4 minutes in length, but shorter will work too (you will help determine the length, but more on that later). So why 4 minutes you ask? Here are my reasons:
I believe THE SAGA OF REX will be beautiful, visionary, surreal, and fascinating, but I also realize that it will be quite artsy in terms of storytelling. If it is too long, it could be taxing on the audience. This is why I want to make the movie as short as possible, yet I still want it to qualify as a feature film. According to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences:
"An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of more than 40 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique."
40 minutes for a film like THE SAGA OF REX sounds just like what I have in mind—so this is perfect! But in order to be eligible for Academy Award submission...
"No more then ten percent of the running time of a film, is allowed to be shown in a nontheatrical medium prior to the film’s theatrical release."
Since I want to have the option of submitting the film, and at the same time, I want to be able to share the footage created through Kickstarter with the world—as soon as it is completed—I need to make sure I play by the rules. Hence, the four minutes limit (40 minutes ÷ 10 = 4 minutes).
The credits will be different in the short film and feature film so I'm not worried about going over 4 minutes with that part of it.
YOU DETERMINE THE LENGTH OF THE FILM
I evaluated that by working full time, at my regular pace of 50 hours a week, I can produce around one minute of completed film every 8 to 10 weeks. I also need to budget for sound and music since this is not my area of expertise. I already produced approximately 30 seconds of animation so the new footage will be added to that.
- FIRST GOAL - $15,000: I will create ONE minute of new full color animation bringing the total length to 1½ minutes. LOCKED!
- SECOND GOAL - $30,000: I will create TWO minutes of new full color animation bringing the total length to 2½ minutes. LOCKED!
- THIRD GOAL - $45,000: I will create THREE minutes of new full color animation bringing the total length to 3½ minutes. LOCKED!
- FOURTH GOAL - $52,500: I will create THREE AND A HALF minutes of new full color animation bringing the total length to 4 minutes. LOCKED!
- FIFTH GOAL - $60,000: In addition to the FOUR-MINUTE SHORT FILM, I will create a TWO-MINUTE THEATRICAL TRAILER featuring 30 seconds of new animation.
If we reach the $60,000 mark, I will create a 2-minute theatrical trailer featuring scenes from the short film as well as 30 seconds of new animation. For the new animation, I will cherry pick events from the graphic novel that will display the full breath of what the feature film will look like: spectacular, emotional, poetic, action-packed, mysterious and thrilling.
Adding 30 more seconds of animation that will be publicly shown before the completed feature film's theatrical release means that I will have to increase the length of the feature film to 45 minutes, so that I still respect the Academy's 10% rule. This is okay—a 45-minute film still falls within the range of what I envision.
Anything raised above the fifth goal will go back into the production to pay for sound and music, more lavish animation and effects, etc. EVERYTHING WILL GO INTO THE FILM. The bigger the budget, the more impressive this film will be. If you make the calculation (subtract rewards and 10% Kickstarter and Amazon fee), you will see how low the budget actually is for what I'm trying to attempt. That's why any surplus in money would allow me to expand the project further (equipment, software, assistant animator, etc). I'm not here to get rich, I only want an opportunity to do a beautiful film.
Once the short film is completed, I will start designing the next phase of financing, as well as planning the potential addition of a small crew. But first, let's do this first part!
When I started in the animation industry back in the 80s, I dreamt of a day when the technology would evolve to a point where a small group of artists, or even a single one, would be able to create complex and fully animated films—something that could only be achieved with huge crews and big budgets at the time. Throughout my career, I kept learning everything I could about animation filmmaking while exploring new technologies. I always kept my dream alive of one day making that "classically animated" movie that would look like a big budget feature film, only done with a fraction of the cost. The big appeal for me was simple—if the cost was massively reduced, a truly singular artistic vision could be kept untampered.
When digital ink & paint and compositing started making their way into the animation biz in the early 90s, I hooked up with Cambridge Animation from the UK, to help them develop Animo, a 2D software for traditional animators. From that relationship, I made a short film called, PRELUDE TO EDEN, and became one of the spokepersons for Animo (watch the film here).
During that period, Animo became the prime tool for non-Disney animated feature films, being used on movies such as, THE IRON GIANT, OSMOSIS JONES, PRINCE OF EGYPT, THE QUEST FOR CAMELOT, ELDORADO, SPACE JAM and many more. However, 2D animation software from other sources continued to evolve while Animo stagnated. I had to come to the realization that Animo, a product of a now defunct company which hadn't been updated since 2006, was no longer cutting edge. After over 15 years of using Animo for my animation projects, it was time for me to move on. I did some research and found a series of software called Toon Boom. Quickly thereafter, I proceeded to use Toon Boom Harmony 10, their latest offering, to create an animation test based on my graphic novel, THE SAGA OF REX (you can read all about it here).
Toon Boom allowed me to remain 100% paperless and bypass time-consuming steps such as scanning and processing drawings. By working directly within the software with a Cintiq tablet, my process was massively sped up. To test this, I gave myelf a 3-week deadline in an effort to see how much I could accomplish within that time frame. Chosing a simple section of the graphic novel, I was able to singlehandedly create approximately 30 seconds of animation, fully colored and composited. This would have been unthinkable if I would have been hand drawing the animation on paper. Granted, I worked like a mad man for the duration of the test, and this was one of the simplest section of the graphic novel with only one character and very little special effects—most of the book is a good deal more involved and would require more time—but nevertheless, I saw what was possible.
THE ORIGIN OF REX
In 1997, I was working at Warner Brothers Feature Animation as Special Effects Supervisor. My production assistant at the time, Scott Grieder, really enjoyed my art and suggested that I do a children's book. The thought of illustrating a storybook sounded pretty cool, so I told Scott, "I'll draw it and you write it." I quickly scribbled a drawing of a cute little fox facing a strange creature and gave it to Scott. "This is your starting point, write something about that," I said to him.
Two weeks later, before Scott had a chance to begin writing, I had completed twenty more illustrations."Here's more inspiration for your story," I said while handing him a stack of photocopies.
Another fifteen to twenty days later, I called Scott to tell him that the book was finished and that I'd written the whole thing. I couldn't stop myself—it just poured out of me. I was glad to hear that Scott was relieved to have the burden off his shoulders.
A SEARCH FOR MEANING: THE STORY OF REX was finished in December 1997 and published in July 1998 as an oversized hardcover book, signed and numbered edition of 1000
I sold the book at trade shows, conventions and to friends, and after a couple of years, sold out all the copies. I didn't want to let the story disappear into oblivion, so in 2002, I colored the illustrations, refined the layouts, and self-published the second hard cover edition. I actually managed to get a distribution deal for the new edition and was able to get the book in several comic shops and bookstores.
The color edition eventually sold out and in my desire to keep the story available for readers, I included the original black and white version of the book in PARABLES: AN ANTHOLOGY, a compilation of the first four storybooks I self-published in 2004.
REX TAKES FLIGHT
Back in 2004, I was doing a signing at the Golden Apple Comics Booth at the Long Beach Wizard Con. Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet, Daisy Kutter) came to my table and showed me a binder containing the artwork for a comic anthology he was putting together called, FLIGHT. I was very impressed with it. Kazu was familiar with my work and hoped I'd be a part of future volumes, so when I suggested using my REX character, he was very receptive. One of Kazu's goals with Flight was to help artists build their own graphic novels in manageable chunks. Not sure if anyone else took advantage of that, but I, for one, saw a golden opportunity.
When I did the first 17 pages for FLIGHT vol. 2, I had no idea where the overall story would take me. By the time FLIGHT vol. 3 rolled in, I had figured out the overall outline with its main themes and concepts. Within that framework, I kept improvising and coming up with new ideas as I went along. From 2005 to 2010, I did a new chapter every year and progressively built the story over six volumes of FLIGHT.
THE SAGA OF REX was very loosely thumbnailed, and in some cases I didn't even thumbnail at all. I'd go straight ahead with cleaned up and colored pages without knowing exactly what the next page would be like. This method of working would be impossible in mainstream comics, but for a project like REX, being serialized in FLIGHT, it worked well. I found that it kept me constantly on my toes creatively and allowed new ideas to sneak in and surprise me. It made the whole process fun, unexpected and never boring.
Once the story was completed, I repackaged the whole thing, added a few pages and sent a mock-up to Image Comics, to see if they would be interested in publishing the graphic novel. I was delighted to get a very enthusiastic response from Image Comics' publisher, Eric Stephenson, and the book was quickly added to their pipeline. The complete SAGA OF REX was published by Image Comics in the fall of 2010.
The rewards will allow you to dig deeper into my universe of strange beings, otherwordly concepts and offbeat storytelling. All my personal art is linked in some manner, and THE SAGA OF REX is very much part of this universe I've been developing over the years.
Even though, the approximate shipping date for the rewards is listed as October 2013, most items will actually start shipping early in 2013. October 2013 is when I anticipate delivering the downloadable file of the film. The production blog will also become accessible as soon I start working on the film.
THE SECRET PRODUCTION BLOG: To share the experience of making the film with the people who back this project, I will create a secret, password protected blog that will document the whole process—elation and frustration, happiness and trauma—I’ll share everything, the art, the tests, the animation—every step of the way. For more about the Secret Blog, go here.
THE SAGA OF REX - GRAPHIC NOVEL: The adorable little fox named Rex is plucked from his home world by a mysterious spaceship and transported to the arcane world of Edernia, where he meets Aven, an enigmatic biomorph with a flying saucer.
Follow his epic journey as he travels through outer-worldly landscapes, faces strange perils, and makes surprising encounters. A story that is in turn adventurous, heroic, tragic, romantic, and wonderfully surprising, The Saga of Rex perfectly captures a vision of whimsy and wonder that will delight young and old. 200 Pages, 7" x 10", Full Color
PARABLES: AN ANTHOLOGY:Collecting Gagné’s first four limited edition storybooks in one captivating volume. Discover the mystery of He! Follow the Shadows on their great migration! Witness the self-destructive behaviors of three misguided creatures, and accompany Rex, the little fox, on his quest for enlightenment! Whimsical characters, fascinating landscapes and thought provoking stories that will delight and inspire readers of all ages. Also featuring a gallery of preliminary pencil sketches. Hardcover and Softcover, 128 Pages, 9" x 9", B&W
ODD NUMBERS: A Beautiful hardcover book for those who count! Filled with strange beings, incredible mutations and insane monsters that are guaranteed to delight young and old. 6" x 8", Full Color, 32 Pages
INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS: Michel Gagné launches his imagination at warp speed. This exquisitely rendered collection hovers between the delightful and disturbing, the benign and bizarre. Tender, amusing - Gagné soars to his signature best. Features 43 illustrations, 24 in full color. Hardcover, 8" x 10", 32 Pages
THE TOWERS OF NUMAR - Charming art and poetry give life to an unexpected tale that resonates like a timeless myth. Meeka is an awesome little creature with a constant need to create. Her compulsion leads her to a feat of engineering so great, that it changes not only the fate of her world, but the very foundation of the universe. Hardcover, 8" x 10", Full Color, 32 Pages
FREAKY FLORA: FROM A TO Z - A twisted delight for nature lovers. Prepare yourself for a botanical tour of wonders like no other: an exotic concoction spawned from the imagination of a master designer run amok! Hardcover, 8" x 10", Full Color, 32 Pages
INSANELY TWISTED RABBIT - DEMON DOG STATUE - Limited Edition of 1000 - Based on my book, INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS, this polystone collectible is hand finished and painted to the highest standard, and comes with a textured base that features the logo, edition size and artist signature. (Manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles) Size: 3.25" Height x 7.25" Width -Approx. Weight: 3.00 lbs
INSANELY TWISTED RABBIT - SCORPION TAIL STATUE - Limited Edition of 500 - Based on my book, INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS, this polystone collectible is hand finished and painted to the highest standard, and comes with a textured base that features the logo, edition size and artist signature. (Manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles) Size: 6.5" Height x 4" Width - Approx. Weight: 3.00 lbs
INSANELY TWISTED RABBIT - SPIKE TAIL STATUE - Limited Edition of 1000 - Based on my book, INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS, this polystone collectible is hand finished and painted to the highest standard, and comes with a textured base that features the logo, edition size and artist signature. (Manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles) Size: 6" Height x 7.75" Width - Approx. Weight: 3.00 lbs
INSANELY TWISTED RABBIT - SCARAB STATUE - Limited Edition of 1000 - Based on my book, INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS, this polystone collectible is hand finished and painted to the highest standard, and comes with a textured base that features the logo, edition size and artist signature. (Manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles) Size: approx. 5.75" Height x 6.5" Width - Approx. Weight: 3.00 lbs
REX ARCHIVAL PRINT - RED FRIEND: Printed on Arches archival water color paper, using archival inks with an 8 color process. Each print is signed, and then enclosed in a polyurethane bag with a fitted backboard. Print Size: 10.5" x 7" - Image Size: 7" x 5"
REX ARCHIVAL PRINT - YELLOW SKY: Printed on Arches archival water color paper, using archival inks with an 8 color process. Each print is signed, and then enclosed in a polyurethane bag with a fitted backboard. Print Size: 10.5" x 7" - Image Size: 8" x 5.6"
REX ARCHIVAL PRINT - THE HIGHEST PLACE: Printed on Arches archival water color paper, using archival inks with an 8 color process. Each print is signed, and then enclosed in a polyurethane bag with a fitted backboard. Print Size: 10.5" x 7" - Image Size: 8" x 5.6"
REX ARCHIVAL PRINT - THE WISE: Printed on Arches archival water color paper, using archival inks with an 8 color process. Each print is signed, and then enclosed in a polyurethane bag with a fitted backboard. Print Size: 7" x 10.5" - Image Size: 4.5" x 8.5"
ZED - THE COMPLETE SERIES (ISSUES 1 - 10): When a cute little alien named ZED demonstrates his invention to the Hierarchy of the Galaxy, something goes wrong—terribly wrong! Before long, ZED's universe is thrown into complete turmoil and our little hero must face nearly insurmountable odds trying to survive and save the very fate of his home world. Imbued with a dark edge, peppered with pure silliness, and wrapped up in a childlike sense of wonder, ZED's adventures will keep readers tickled and captivated from start to finish. 7" x 10", B&W, 24 Pages per Issue
THE OUT OF PRINT COLLECTION: Includes six of my books from my personal archives, that have been long out of print.
A SEARCH FOR MEANING: THE STORY OF REX (First Edition): Follow the adventures of the cute and curious Rex. He travels far and wide in an ever so strange and visually fanciful world. Rex shows us how we can step back to our innocence, and see that "meaning" is found everywhere and nowhere. Rex's story is one for all seasons and ages. It is fun, silly, scary, cute and spiritual all rolled into one sweet little face. Hardcover, DJ, 32 Pages, 11" x 11", B&W, Limited 1000 S&N
THE MYSTERY OF HE: He is an unusual creature with a strange origin and a wonderful destiny. Follow him along his path of life with all of its mysterious twists and turns. He meets both friend and foe and struggles with adversity in an ageless story of acceptance and brotherhood. Hardcover, DJ, 32 Pages, 11" x 11", B&W, Limited 1000 S&N
THE GREAT SHADOW MIGRATION: A sophisticated and mystical tale that will definitely give you something to think about. Follow the evolution of two diverse beings as they struggle to inhabit one world. Your eyes will feast at the beautiful and imaginative illustrations as your mind wanders through this poetic tale. Hardcover, DJ, 32 Pages, 11" x 11", B&W, Limited 1000 S&N
THE BIRD, THE SPIDER AND THE OCTOPUS: A little on the darker side, this book doesn't give us the expected redemption or insight into a richer meaning in life. The stories here explore the burdens of greed and revenge and the hopelessness of self destructive behaviors, in the guise of strange little creatures. Beware, the whimsical yet affecting illustrations may trigger tears, laughter or horror. Hardcover, DJ, 32 Pages, 11" x 11", B&W, Limited 1000 S&N
FRENZIED FAUNA: FROM A TO Z: An alphabetical tour of the animal kingdom—warped through Gagné's vivid Imagination, that is. Never before has there been a menagerie so wild, wonderful, winsome—and weird. Hardcover, 8" x 10", Full Color, 32 Pages
A SEARCH FOR MEANING: THE STORY OF REX (Second Edition): Hardcover, 32 Pages, 9" x 9", Full Color
Risks and challenges
Keeping track of everyone's mailing address, creating material for the rewards (Illustrations, sketches, signature, etc.) and shipping the material to the right people will be a big challenge. Fortunately, my incredible wife, Nancy, who has been doing the accountability for GAGNE International for 15 years, will be there to get the information organized and make sure the process goes smoothly.
We have been running our own website and webstore since 2001, and have a very good reputation with our customers. We also gave ourselves a realistic date of when we would be able to deliver the rewards.
To make sure most of my time goes toward doing the actual project, which will be a huge amount of work, I have put a low limit on ORIGINAL DRAWINGS.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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