Kingdom of Frogs is an adaption of the Aesop's fable the Frog's that Desired a King. The film was my contribution into what was to be a collaborative feature, made of up a series of punk-fables by indie directors based on the stories by Aesop.
The sets and animation were done Winston Hacking and Brett Long of Toronto amazing Exploding Motor Car Collective. The sound track was written by Dean Tzenos, front man for the band Odonis Odonis. The clip was produced by Geoff McLean, Toronto's top commercial and music video producer.
The film was featured in various festivals worldwide including Contra Vision is Germany. It was the winner of Best Experimental Film prize at Hamilton International Film Festival.
Making of Photos...
The Frog Kingdom
Director: Jesse Ewles
Overview: The Frog Kingdom will be stopmotion animation based on the Aesop's fables the Frog and the Ox, and the Frogs Who Desired a King. The work will be an update and a tribute to the work of the early 20th century animator Ladislaw Starewicz, integrating contemporary music, editing, humour and digital effects.
Synopsis: A tiny kingdom of frogs is panicked after their scout sights an Ox near their pond. The arrogant Frog King scoffs at the threat, claiming the God Zeus has granted him the skills needed to protect his subjects. Soon after, while attempting to puff himself to the size of an Ox, the King explodes, leaving his subjects defenseless. Terrified, the remaining frogs petition Zeus to give them a new king. Amused by the frightened beings, Zeus delivers a new sovereign in the form of a huge rotten log. At first the frogs are overjoyed at having such a hulking King to hide behind, but in time they realize the log is inanimate and harmless.
Angrily, the frogs petition Zeus for a better King, a strong King to properly rule them. Soon Zeus, annoyed by the frog's lack of gratitude and wisdom grants their wish; he makes a stork the new King of the Frogs, and the stork quickly devours the whole kingdom.
The Frog and the Ox & the Frogs that Desired a King
Opening shot of a meadow and marsh stretching out to under clouded sky.
There was once a Kingdom of Frogs remote enough that none of it's creatures had ever seen a farmer or a beast of burden. Until one day...
Shot of a gargantuan Ox head looming over a terrified grouping of frogs. The small lot scrambles and dives over one another attempting to flee.
Cut to a shot of the hulking FROG KING wearing a crown, perched on a stone and surrounded below by smaller frogs on flowered lily pads. The subservient frogs are lashing out their tongues and batting flies into the yawning mouth of the KING. The tranquillity is broken by the panicked approach of one of the frogs from the opening.]
Such a torrent underling! What's the trouble??
Your Majesty! To the East! A woolly titan looms!!!
By Zeus! Calm yourself crier! Have you forgotten you're under my care?
But My Sovereign! The beast was far larger than you!!!
Rest easy little one, our God Zeus hath bestowed me with great potential! Watch as balloon!
The frog king puffs up his throat, going "Ribbit Ribbit" as he expands. Other frogs looking on applaud.
Aha! All too easy.
Master, to be sure the monster was much larger.
Not a problem!
The King sucks in even more air, becoming twice his normal size. The onlookers cheer and do back-flips approvingly.
Surely this is... enough to frighten your beast... What say you NOW?
NO! NO! Much bigger still! TEN TIMES THAT AT LEAST!!
Then larger we will go!
The King swells to enormous size, his skin stretches to a fine membrane.
ZEUS... AID.. MMME....
The King attempts one last breath...
BOOM!!! He explodes. Sparks, star-shapes and guts rain down on the swamp.
OH MY! What a turn! We'll surely be stomped out now. Zeus help us!
No sooner than this is said, Zeus makes an appearance. The clouds in the sky twist into a cottony beard, and from the beard the face of Zeus surfaces looking wild-eyed. Atop his head sits a crown of lightening bolts.
What troubles you my luscious babes?
Our King has exploded, oh Thunderous one! At a time of bad peril! Can thou offer new protection??!
Fruit of my loins, it is my top priority.
Zeus' mighty arm tosses a thunder-bolt at spot where the Frog King exploded. In a flash of comic stars an old log wearing a crown irrupts up from the swamp towering and back-lit like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!
The frog's huddle down timidly behind the log, and peek their heads around it in search danger.
COMMON FROG 1
He's a strong one ain't he? All of us can be shielded by his mighty back!
COMMON FROG 2
And look at the confidence he exudes! No need for idol chatter at all.
COMMON FROG 1
We'll be well protected from the monster now.
Just a moment fellows... Our new King looks suspiciously like... A LOG! A COMMON LOG LIKE THE THOUSANDS LITTERING THIS SWAMP.
Crier hops to the top of the Log King and pushes aside it's crown. All around gasp as the King is revealed to be an ordinary log.
Zeus!!! You've marooned us!
T'is true! Shame! Hsss!
You pain me, sweethearts... I feel I have chosen the best protector for you, humble as it is. Perhaps you could paint it?
This is no time for half-measures! We're under siege! We need a proper king! A strong King and a terrible King to rule us properly!
Very well my lovely, may you have your wish.
Zeus karate chops the air and a new lightening bolt strikes the log. In a flash the log is transformed into a huge stork wearing a crown.
Here is your strong king. May you enjoy your time in his care.
The King Stork squawks and beats it's wings and promptly devours all the frogs in the kingdom saving CRIER for last. We cut to a wide shot of the meadow. The Stork King looks small and insignificant under the dark thundering sky.
FROG KING Technical Treatment
We will make a stopmotion animation using latex based puppets with aluminum skeletons, shot in a natural environment. Natural light will be used. The stopmotion approach will allow us to make the character designs highly elaborate and detailed compared to CG or traditional animation on it’s own. In post, CG effects and compositing (muzzle animation) will be used to excentuate the stopmotion footage. Squash and stretch and facial animation will be added using Maya and After Effects. The use of Latex puppets will make them water proof and enable us to shoot in a real marsh. In combination, the use of biodegradable latex, and an on location shoot will lead to a low carbon-footprint production.
The Frog King will be made of cast latex rubber over an armature wire skeleton. He will contain a latex “balloon” blatter that will allow him to be inflated with a bicycle pump. He will be painted with non-toxic latex paint. His eyes and back jewels will be made from composite polymer plastic and (along with the crown) be the only non-biodigradable elements of the puppet.
The Crier will be constructed with much the same design. The other two other Common Frogs will be animated using the Crier puppet and composited in post, double exposure style.