In this age of Lockdowns, Sequesters, and Isolation, we have managed not only to keep our health and continue work on "My Love Affair With Marriage", but also form important new partnerships as this animated feature film enters the final stretch of production.
Writer, Director, Animator Signe Baumane
Meet Yajun Shi. She is animating the Biology sections of the film, 12 minutes all together. During the Lockdown, with no employees in the studio, we had time to conduct a worldwide search for the right person to animate Biology. We found Yajun in Brooklyn, just a few neighborhoods away.
Signe and Yajun talk regularly via Skype, but have yet to meet in person.
Signe wanted to work with an animator who could not only capture the mysterious world of human biology, but also had a style that would compliment her own. And we love Yajun's style. Here's a link to the trailer of her short film "Parasite".
Yajun's Challenge: to be scientifically accurate, yet artistically unique
The Lockdown was a busy time. A friend introduced us to Raoul Nadalet, a Luxembourg producer whom we took to immediately. Over many Zoom meetings we wrote a massive grant application (meaning weeks of work) proposing that his company, Antevita Films, handle all the post production sound of the film, which is considerable. Two weeks ago, Film Fund Luxembourg approved our application and will fund the work. This officially makes "My Love Affair With Marriage" a Latvia - USA - Luxembourg production with Raoul joining Roberts Vinovskis and us as Producers.
Raoul will bring a first-class cinema soundscape to "My Love Affair With Marriage"
At the beginning of 2020 our financial situation was dire. We were close to broke and had to take out a loan to keep the studio running. One of our Kickstarter backers, Reginald C. Foster, offered his assistance. Under Reg's guidance, we have revamped our entire fundraising approach. We cherish our weekly Sunday morning Skype sessions with Reg. He gets an insider's look at film production, we get to tap into his vast fundraising experience.
By late February our luck began to change. H.O. Peet Foundation gave us a lifesaving grant. A week later, New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York City Mayor's Office came through with a significant grant. Then the pandemic hit, New York shut down, the interns scattered, our employees sequestered at home. Signe and Sturgis sequestered in the Brooklyn studio and kept working on the film - the financing of it, too.
Signe shoots the Denmark Art Gallery
Our good luck continued. New York Women in Film & Television gave us a grant through the Ravenal Foundation. Another Kickstarter Backer made a major donation. We were finalists for the SFFILM Rainin Grant, though ultimately not a winner. Film Fund Luxembourg came through. Several other grants are pending.
Since 2016, we have applied for 32 grants on behalf of this film - 32! These grants take a long time to write and are highly competitive. The odds for success are slim, but if we don't apply, we get nothing. So, we keep trying. And sometimes we get lucky.
In early June, after sequestering for 10 weeks, Yasemin, Sofiya and John K. returned to the studio. We are very grateful to have them back. But health comes first. Everyone works in a mask - and there are no debates about it.
John pencil-shadowing Signe's animation, Yasemin paper-mache-ing and painting sets
Everyone practices social distance.
Normally Signe would pull a chair next to Sofiya to go over color choices
Everyone sanitizes regularly.
Sturgis and The Stash
Usually in summertime, the studio buzzes with interns. Not so this summer. Five in the studio is plenty enough.
In June, Signe and Sturgis were scheduled to fly to France for a work-in-progress presentation of "My Love Affair With Marriage" at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
Annecy, the largest animation festival in the world
Well, that didn't happen. The Festival shifted to an online format and asked us to create a work-in-progress video instead, another Lockdown task for us. We decided to dissect a 5-minute section of the film and then show it. If you have 21 minutes, here's the link:
https://vimeo.com/424415579 - Password: AnnecyFest7
Okay, now THIS is amazing... we have raised over a million dollars for this project! A million dollars!!! A million dollars may be loose change for some, but to us it's an astounding amount. Here's a snapshot of our website's "Donate Page", where we tabulate the numbers for all to see:
Our budget is one of the most transparent film budgets around
"My Love Affair With Marriage" is currently 88% funded. If you'd like to help us finish the film, we would really appreciate your support. On the "Donate Page" of our website there are three ways to give, including a tax-deductible donation through our non-profit fiscal sponsor Filmmakers Collaborative:
Thank you! Be safe! Stay healthy! Thank you for your support - financial and otherwise. Thank you for your partnerships. Thank you for believing in us. We could not make this film without you.
Sturgis, Signe and the entire "My Love Affair With Marriage" Team