It's challenging enough to make an animated feature film in one language. We are making “My Love Affair With Marriage” in two - one in English, the other, “Mans laulību projekts” (My Marriage Project), in Latvian.
We are doing so because we have partnered with Roberts Vinovskis of Studio Locomotive in Riga who has gotten support for the film from National Kino Centre of Latvia and Cultural Capital Foundation of Latvia. We enjoyed our previous collaboration with Roberts on "Rocks In My Pockets" and look forward to our new co-production.
Signe, Sturgis, Roberts and Roberts' Portrait pledge to jointly produce “My Love Affair With Marriage” / “Mans laulību projekts”
Signe, Sturgis and Team will continue working at the Signe Baumane Studio in Brooklyn. A variety of Latvian artists and animators will work out of Studio Locomotive. A high-powered server connects the two studios allowing us to send the day’s work to each other.
It all starts with the script. Writer and translator Lolita Tomsone turned 95 pages of “My Love Affair With Marriage” into “Mans laulību projekts” and poet/singer Pēteris Draguns translated and fitted the lyrics into songs – a challenging task as Latvian words tend to have more syllables than their English counterparts.
Translator Lolita Tomsone with Signe / Lyricist Pēteris Draguns
To get everything going, Signe and Sturgis travelled to Riga in December to record actors and singers and collaborate/plan with the Latvian team. We hired the Latvian singing group Trio Limonāde to play the Mythology Sirens, the three shape-shifting creatures who preach a traditional view of women’s values via pop-songs.
Trio Limonāde: Kristīne Pastare, Iluta Alberga, Ieva Katkovska
Trio Limonāde had to learn 23 songs and song fragments in both English and Latvian. Composer Kristian Sensini’s harmonies are difficult, but hauntingly beautiful.
There is one song in the film not sung by the Mythology Sirens. Elita, the perfect girl, shows Zelma, the film's main character, how to be a girl that boys will like. Erica Schroeder sings the English version. For the Latvian we were lucky to collaborate with international singing star Linda Leen.
Linda Leen as Elita
We worked with two musical directors. Arnis Račinskis recorded Trio Limonāde and Linda Leen at MUTE Studios. Arnis is a singer, guitarist and songwriter and has played in a number of bands. Kārlis Auzāns recorded the musicians, eight of them, at M-Park Studio, playing cello and guitar himself. Kārlis is a producer, composer, arranger and a spectacular cellist. He composes and plays for the cello-trio Melo-M.
Arnis Račinskis and Kārlis Auzāns
Anete Vanaga is our Latvian casting director, recording engineer and dialogue editor. She graduated from film school in London where she was one of four women in a class of 100.
Anete Vanaga and Signe record actors at BBsound
Anete cast some of Latvia's best actors.
Laura Čaupale as Zelma and Guna Zariņa as Biology
The business of acting in Latvia is quite different. Plays are usually performed a few times a month, but their runs can last several years. Many actors perform multiple plays at multiple theaters. Guna Zarina has 10 plays in her personal repertoire this year and loves the variety it brings her. Kaspars Znotiņš is performing in 13 in addition to commercial and voiceover work.
Zelma's husbands: Edgars Samītis as Sergei and Dainis Grūbe as Bo.
There are no unions for actors in Latvia. Most negotiate with producers on their own. Agents are just now starting to break into the scene. Actors for the most part have stayed away not wanting to upset the relationships that they already have with producers.
Regīna Razuma, Zane Daudziņa, Indra Burkovska
For "My Love Affair With Marriage" we hired 26 actors, one for each role - even the roles with only a line or two of dialogue. We wanted to spread the healthy SAG-AFTRA paychecks around to as many good actors as possible. With the Latvian cast we had no restrictions as to the number of roles they could play. Some recorded three or four for the project.
Kaspars Znotiņš, Ģirts Ķesteris, Juris Kalniņš
Many years ago Signe tried to become an actress. She took a preparation class for the entrance auditions to the Academy. One of the students was Ģirts Ķesteris, above center. The Academy accepted Ģirts and he went on to become one of Latvia's top actors. Signe didn't make the cut which broke her heart. She moved on to study Philosophy and later went into animation. Sometimes bad things turn out to be good things.
Ieva Puķe, Katrīne Pasternaka, Madara Botmane
With the audio track nearly done, we turned to the visuals. Latvian artists will do most of the coloring and compositing of Signe's hand-drawn animation. Klinta Lapina is the first colorist Roberts hired with more to join her in the coming months.
Signe, Coloring Artist Klinta Lapina
We are honored to be working with our Latvian collaborators and grateful for their talents and efforts. Together, we hope to make this as good an animated feature film as it can possibly be.
Signe, Sturgis, Roberts and the whole "My Love Affair With Marriage" / “Mans laulību projekts” Team