Of Arms And The Man

Ten years ago, one of the greatest moments of my life happened. It seems almost like a dream now.

I made a movie and it showed at the Plaza in the city. For one night; April 1st, 2009. People paid to see it and everything, on the great big screen, yet.

It’s bittersweet in many ways. Not all the voices are still with us. I lost a woman I loved partly due to this movie, and a few members of the cast and crew are no longer on speaking terms with me. Not that those are things to be proud of, but they betray the level of manic obsession I exercised to see the project from script to screen. I made the movie that I set out to make. It’s impossible to do that without being kind of a dick. Ask anyone.

However, I don’t know how to equip the Armor of Separation that other creators use regarding their babies. Maybe it’s easier when there’s a visible profit, and the property demonstrates solid value. But when you put your heart, soul, and three years of the prime of your life into a creation that takes a loss, that loss has a more lethal sting.

Without truckloads of money, you need the help of your friends to make a movie. But take it from me; you must bear in mind that your friends are regular folks working for free, and not raving psychopaths who want the film industry life. For crying out loud, tell your friends and family that you love ’em. I’m a would-be Bakshi but I’ve little to show for it. That is, until I make another movie.

Which is wholly plausible. Likely, almost.

Future movies were always part of the plan, but technically I can’t follow through on the film teased on the John’s Arm DVD insert, Something Borrowed. For one thing, the concept is only around 40% mine, and two, some fucking rom-com ganked the title before we could. It was an animated body-snatchers thriller, it would have scared the living hell out of audiences, and it had a great female lead character. The title treatment underlined the story’s take on the pod-people concept:

It was planned (but not produced) that this title would slowly and symmetrically coalesce out of pulsating vines, for the opening sequence.

Even if you are successful in creating a motion picture on your own, when that motion picture is finished, you will be emotionally exhausted and mentally evacuated. You will have to take a break. You won’t know this, and you’ll be desperate to recoup the investment of the time spent.

That won’t happen. Not right away, and not directly.

I was able to produce this movie because I had good friends, a good dad and a good woman who believed in me, and who spent their time and money on me. Because my sister got straight-As, I was able to get a huge student discount on the program I used to animate, with her report card. My dad and I built recording booths in my girlfriend’s loft. I made pop screens with pantyhose and embroidery loops.

I spent most of today uploading the movie to YouTube, for the tenth anniversary of its showing at the Plaza. Current browser technology runs the movie at its intended frame rate with no problem. The counter displays the runtime 1:53:52.

Okay, think about that for a second. A thirty-frame second.

I think I animated the movie in maybe 20fps, to cut corners. The movie is, by my probably-wrong calculations, 6,832 seconds long. At 20fps, that’s 136,640 frames, which is why I didn’t animate every single frame of the movie or go irretrievably insane.

Still, when you’re watching this movie, think about how many mouths I drew. How many hands, how many fingers. That’s how much faith I had in this endeavor. Enough to spend almost three years bringing it to life.

It makes me laugh, it makes other people laugh, it was worth it. That’s the bottom line in this life. I’ll be providing a commentary track in the near future, where I watch it in its entirety for the first time in almost ten years. (What other directors watch their own movies after they make them, anyway?!) There are a million terrific tales to tell of this little independent feature.

Stay tuned, and meanwhile, enjoy. (Not at work.)

©Matty Boy Anderson

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