AesopTV | Failted Collaborative Film
In 2008, there was a great deal of email being passed between indie directors online. Young filmmakers from many countries were connecting via the videos.antville.org blog, using it to share cool music videos, offer feedback and celebrate best work that had been seen month to month.
I thought it might be fun to build a collaborative feature film, made up of several shorts each directed by a one of the new filmmakers I had met online. We had a lot of interest in fables and myths in the mid-noughties (apparently fantasy work becomes more popular during recessions and in wartime) so we chose the theme Aesop's Fables for the collaboration.
Aesop's stories were ideal for development, especially by multiple directors. The fables had a simple characters with clear goals. The characters were all animals, which makes the art direction fun, and makes the film accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Finally, Aesop, like most fairy tales, is recognisable enough name that people can describe project easily, which in theory helps raise money and spread the word about the films once they are finished. The idea was also interesting from a distribution angle, as each director could organize rep cinema screenings for the film in their areas.
Soon various indie directors in our scene were choosing their favourite Aesop stories and forwarding their treatments. Andy Bruntel director of classic videos for Bonnie Prince Billy and Liars adapted the Eagle and the Arrow. Toronto's film making mad-scientists Exploding Motor Car (Timber Timbre, One Hundred Dollars) did a rendition of the Truffle Hog. Stopmotion director Tobias Stretch adapted The Dancing Camel. Director Cameron Tomsett (Beta Frontiers) adapted The Dog and Wolf. Renown filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones adapted the Ant and the Grasshopper.
Ultimately the project failed to come together due to a lack of financing. Originally, I imagined each director would design and fund-raise projects of their own, however once the project moved past the wiring stage, the limited time each of the other directors had forced them to walk away from the project. This may have been avoided if the project had recruited a dedicated producer. For my part, I was lucky enough to get a grant for my section from Toronto's Bravo TV. My section was entitled Aesop: Kingdom of Frogs and can be viewed here. The amazing artists Winston Hacking and Brett Long (Exploding Motor Car) helped with the shooting and animation. Dean Tzenos of Odonis Odonis wrote the score.