Periodically we send out updates to our 1,700 Backers and others interested in the project. Here is our journey, from newest to oldest:
Growing Up With Zelma
October 8, 2019
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
Animation Summer Frenzy
July 25, 2019
It's summer, and in our Brooklyn studio seven fans swirl as work on My Love Affair With Marriage, Signe Baumane's animated feature film, swirls along with them. We have no air conditioning, which is a problem only on very hot days when we wear as little as possible and contort our bodies to avoid dripping sweat onto animation paper before it can safely be scanned into digital files.
For My Love Affair With Marriage, it's been that kind of a hot, busy summer.
It started in May when Signe and Sturgis travelled to Germany for the premiere of Mother's Song at the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film.
Signe's Q&A at Stuttgart. Signe loves a crowd. The crowd loves Signe.
Voiced by Dagmara Dominczyk, Florencia Lozano and Trio Limonāde,
Mother's Song is a stand-alone excerpt from My Love Affair With Marriage. We use it as one of our calling cards for the feature film.
First blood for 13-year old Zelma in "Mother's Song". Note the exaggerated shoulders and head. Signe sometimes stylizes her characters this way to visually accent heightened emotions. Even the best of actors have trouble pulling this off in regular movies.
Just as summer was heating up, Roberts Vinovskis, our Latvian producing partner, presented us with a major opportunity: a co-production partnership with a Mysterious Animation Company from a country not named Latvia or the United States. Mysterious because we don't want to jinx the funding application they have just submitted to their national arts council. We hope everything falls into place, not only because of the tremendous effort everyone made to line up the stacks of documents required for the application, but because we really like these people and admire their work in... 3D animation.
Signe Baumane and 3D animation??? Have ever the two appeared together in the same sentence?
Yes. Now. Finally. But let's back up a minute.
For My Love Affair With Marriage, Signe created Biology, a neuron-shaped character, who accompanies Zelma on her 23-year quest for perfect love and lasting marriage, and analyzes... the changing chemical states of Zelma's mind.
Biology with 17-year old Zelma
Now, why is this important, you may ask? Because as Biology will demonstrate, brain chemistry plays a HUGE role in Love and Relationships, and many of us don't realize this (Zelma for one) and maybe we should, because we keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again. So, pay attention to the rapturous voice of Tony-Award winner Michele Pawk as she, Biology, leads us on a journey into the amazing world of Zelma's Body and Brain, which will be animated - if the Fates allow it - by Mysterious Animation Company in glorious 3D.
Sample images that Signe provided Mysterious Animation Company. We want to celebrate science with this film.
Summer means interns. Lots of interns both in the Brooklyn studio and in Riga with our Latvian team. We teach them how to work in a professional environment (no cell phones within 20 feet of work stations!!!!). They bring their time, talents and developing skills to our film. The highlight of any day is LUNCH!
Rule #1: We all eat lunch together. Sometimes we get raucous, sometimes conversations turn international. The group above collectively speaks 8 different languages. Employees and interns from left: Yupu Ding, Karyna Wilson, Signe, Sofiya Lypka, Yasemin Orhan, Britt Sodersjerna, Kelly Schiesswohl. We have other employees, other interns. Every day there's a different mix of people in the studio.
As writer-director-designer-animator-director of photography-project manager Signe Baumane has WAY too many hyphens on her plate.
If you're thinking of inviting her for brunch, Signe would LOVE to... in about 18 months. Bottom right Signe goes over line-test scans with Sofiya.
All departments go through Signe. She's specific with what she wants, yet loves to be surprised by your better ideas.
Sturgis Warner builds and lights the background sets. He also helps Signe photograph them. There are 145 scenes in the film, perhaps 100 sets in all (we haven't counted!). Background sets come before the animation so there is pressure to stay ahead. This summer we've been creating them as fast as we can.
Sturgis and his plywood bathtub. We try to ground the sets in realism, yet stylize them in a theatrically elevated way.
Yasemin Orhan is responsible for all design choices post-wood. Recently, she created moldy wallpaper for a certain interior set.
Top: Yasemin. Left: Sofiya, Yasemin, Karyna. Signe usually rotates the interns - in the morning some work at the computer stations with Britt, others join Yasemin on sets, and after lunch they switch. Right: The team textures every set piece with papier-mâché before painting - usually 5 coats layered dark to light. The thin paper of old telephone books works really well with smaller objects. Sorry if that's your phone number on the toilet.
Britt Sodersjerna was one of our interns last summer. Now, along with Signe, she chooses the colors of all the characters and with her team she prepares the digital files that we send to Locomotive Productions in Riga, Latvia for coloring and compositing. In Latvia, Anete Matvejeva organizes her team to color the thousands of animated images. Georgs Harijs Āva and his compositing team place the animated characters in and around the photographed background sets and turn the collective images into movies.
Top: Britt. Left: Anete. Right: Georgs. Signe spends 8-12 hours a week going through the Latvian work and sending notes and corrections. Once Signe approves an image or sequence of images they become part of the final movie. Over time, all departments have become more efficient and - frame-by-frame - the film moves forward.
A single completed shot:
Darya and Zelma as composited into the background photo of Zelma's dorm room at college. Darya is Zelma's first female friend. She accesses the mystical side of life through drugs.
It's a balancing act, this film. We try to make every element as good as we possibly can yet still keep the project moving forward. As such, the budget has grown. Striving for quality will do that. We won't bore you with specific numbers or how we structure fiscal responsibilities with our Latvian partners. Only know that arts funding in the United States is a tremendous challenge. And it won't be getting easier anytime soon.
Darya: "I love your hair. It's like sliding my fingers down glowing threads of pure gold."
The constant need for money keeps us on our toes. No complacency for Team Brooklyn! We write as many grant applications as we are eligible for, but grants for film are highly competitive and animation for adults poorly understood. ("You're making a cartoon about what?")
If you want to annoy Signe, refer to her work as cartoons. Here Cartoon Zelma, 19, enters a Cartoon Party.
And so we turn to our friends and supporters (1,800 donors so far!) to keep the Brooklyn studio fully operational and expand our staff. No donation is too small (or too large!) for our gratitude. We love it when self-appointed ambassadors share our posts and spread the word about this project. We welcome new ideas on funding. A few supporters have pointed us toward small foundations they've had connections with. Everything helps!
Sergei and Zelma enter the Hall of Ceremonies. It's their turn for an assembly-line wedding, Soviet style!
The easiest way to make a contribution is to go to the donate page of this website.
We have three options: PayPal, Stripe or for a tax-exemption through our fiscal sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative.
Everybody's invited to a party at Yasemin's moldy-wallpaper set! Drinks are on us!
Thank you for following and supporting us!!! We could NEVER do this without you!!!
Sturgis, Signe, Roberts and the entire My Love Affair With Marriage Team
More past updates will be added here shortly.