Meet Zelma. In Signe Baumane's animated feature film My Love Affair With Marriage (completion date: 2021) she is the narrator, the "My" of the title, the leading character whom we follow on a 23-year quest for perfect love and lasting marriage.
In our Brooklyn studio we interact with Zelma every day. She may be a fictional character, but we spend so much time working on her that she's become quite real. As if she were our child. And like watching a child grow up, we really enjoy watching Zelma pass through the different stages of development on her way to maturity:
Zelma, the Script. In 2015 when Signe began writing the screenplay, Zelma was named "Signe". Like many of Signe's films, My Love Affair With Marriage is highly personal and using her own name seemed appropriate. But our lawyer thought otherwise, so we created Zelma, the name to protect Signe, the person.
Zelma, the script
Zelma, the Character Study. We liked Zelma when she was just a character in the script. As we read through it, there were no images to cloud our individual imaginations. But animators are visual creatures and Signe is no different. She put an end to our silly imaginations and created Character Studies.
Zelma, the Character Study
Zelma, the voice. After an extensive search, we hired Dagmara Dominczyk to record the voice of Zelma as well as narrate the film. We had seen Dagmara several times on stage and were taken by her storytelling abilities and range as an actress. The fact that she was from Eastern Europe (Poland) and was well acquainted with the Soviet Union was a bonus.
Zelma, the voice of Dagmara Dominczyk
We listen to Dagmara's Zelma every day. Sometimes the same lines over and over again as Signe patiently animates to her voice. We are comforted by sound of Dagmara's voice. Her nuanced performance reassures us that this whole enterprise just might work.
Zelma, the Animated Drawings. As Signe keeps animating, Zelma, the character, takes on a life of her own, moving further and further away from Signe, the person.
Zelma, the Drawings
Zelma, Colored & Composited. Our Brooklyn team scans and organizes Zelma, the drawings, and sends her off to Studio Locomotive in Latvia, where our sister team of artists colors her and magically places her within the photographs of our background sets.
Zelma, Latvian Colored
Zelma, the QuickTime Movies. Our Latvian compositors turn these images into Zelma, the QuickTime Movies (moving images without sound), and send her back to us in Brooklyn.
Recently, we edited 45 consecutive minutes of completed footage (hundreds of QuickTime Movies mixed with sound) for a grant application. It was our first opportunity to watch Zelma grow up within the movie's timeframe.
Here are images from the film as she reaches each new age:
Zelma, a Wild Child tamed into a School Girl
Zelma, School Girl, Latvia, the Soviet Union, early 1970s.
Zelma, still a School Girl. And still alone.
Zelma, First Blood. Even animated characters menstruate.
Zelma, Peaceful Thoughts. Not for long...
Zelma, Commuter. An empty seat...
Zelma, "fresh air" with a High School Senior.
Zelma, Gallery. Beware of lurking Artists.
Zelma, College Girl. Moscow. A new beginning.
Zelma, a moment before a life-changing odor.
Zelma at the Morgue. "I was so afraid to be a woman."
We still have several more years of Zelma's life to animate. We're hoping to complete her journey by March of 2021.
Zelma, the Bride.
Aside from working on the film, we are doing everything we can to pay for the film. It's been a whirlwind, starting with our Kickstarter campaign in 2017. We still have 17 months to go with Staff Salaries and Rent the biggest mouths to feed in our Brooklyn studio. If you have any fundraising ideas - grants, foundations, individuals looking for tax deductions - please contact us at: MyLoveAffairWithMarriage@gmail.com
We also have an individual-donor drive on our website: www.MyLoveAffairWithMarriage.com/donate
Please help us finish this project! Every dollar helps!
Zelma, Grateful for our Backers' support.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your interest and support. We could NEVER do this film without you!!!
Sturgis, Signe, Roberts and the entire My Love Affair With Marriage Team