More Concept Art

By | Animation, Contactees, Filmmaking | 2 Comments

No big posts today.  Just some more concept art.

Version 1.  


After noodling with the picture some more, I came up with a version I liked better.  Tell me what you think.  Granted, the subtleties might be a shade lost on these low res versions.  I’d give you higher res ones, but I have to save something for the film.

Version 2.

Adamski Pre-Production Inspirational Sketches

By | Animation, Contactees, Filmmaking | No Comments

Though this is the production blog for They Rode the Flying Saucers, I have posted relatively little about the actual production of this film.  I thought I’d try to correct that a little bit with this entry.

A significant portion of this film will ultimately be animated, as most of the people in it are, unfortunately, deceased.  To steel myself for the coming onslaught of animation I will have to be doing in the very near future, I have been following a tradition of animation established long ago by the Disney studios–the inspirational sketch.

Adamski et Orthon, circa 1952

Disney, and other studios besides, have artists whose specific job is to come up with as many ideas as they possibly can about whatever the film is about.  If they’re making a film about, say, a genie in a magical lamp, then these artists will make amazing oil paintings, sketches, watercolors, and sculpture about genies and magical lamps.  These works of art–and they are incredibly, unbelievably artistic–are like concept cars.  They may be super cool, but they never see the light of day.  You won’t see these things in the final films, though they are the seeds from which the art of the production grows.  They are unrestricted by narrative and market needs, and so they have an unfettered ability to stimulate the imagination.

What some have said they think of when they hear the title of this film.

Over the past several years, I have been doodling in notebooks and on napkins, coming up with images, ideas that can convey portions of this film for which there is no footage or imagery to cover.

Here are a few sketches I’ve done of George Adamski.  These are not, I should emphasize, scenes or portions thereof that will be appearing in the finished film.  These are only concepts, ideas to get me thinking visually about which directions to go.

I Want My…I Want My…I Want My Contacteeeeees

By | Animation, Filmmaking | 2 Comments

When I first embarked on this project, I had more than one person raise an eyebrow at it.  A close friend of mine asked, in a very concerned tone, if he needed to “call the tinfoil hat brigade.”  This kind of prejudice, that discussing flying saucers is on par with discussing unicorns,  is a prejudice I’ve seen time and again.  It’s an awkward thing to deal with.

First, let’s get something straight, for those of you who think this is all woo-woo crazy stuff:  My making this film does not equal my wholehearted endorsement of the subject matter.  Someone who makes a film about World War II isn’t necessarily making a call to war, they are simply recording a historical event.  And that is what I am doing. Having said that, endorsing this subject is, in my opinion, not sufficient cause to commit someone to the loony bin pile of public opinion.

I have no intention or interest of proving or disproving the claims of the Contactees.  It is a futile endeavor, as I am fantastically unqualified to even attempt something so bold, and no one’s mind would be changed in the end anyway.

I came to this project a few years ago after a decades-long fascination with the subject.  I was frustrated that I had never seen a satisfying look at the Contactees who were, whether you believed their stories or not, amazingly interesting people.  It is every bit as valid a historical movement in world history as hippies, civil rights, or anti-Vietnam protests.  I’m not equating these or in any way implying that Contacteeism was as important as civil rights or Vietnam, I’m just saying it is part of the greater cloth of mid-century history, and therefore worth examining.

But it usually gets cast to the floor, stomped on, spat upon, or otherwise reviled because it mentions flying saucers and men from Mars.  But that’s exactly WHY it’s interesting!

If you look at the concerns of the Contactees—fear of nuclear annihilation, fear of losing our morality in an increasingly hectic world, hope for future generations—they are everyone’s concerns.  They are universal, and only the medium of the message is different.  While some people march in front of the Washington Monument waving anti-war signs, the Contactees chose a different tactic.  And though I say “they chose”, many of them people would say it chose them.

So I set out to make the movie that I wanted to see, and I’m having a blast doing it.

Thus far, I have deliberately chosen to avoid crowd funding for the simple reason that this is a labor of love; I’m doing this mostly on my own, and I still have a day job that takes most of my time.  Crowd funding would constrict  my time with all the mailings and prizes and whatnot, time that would be better spent actually working on the film.  Plus there is the added pressure that as time drags on, those who contributed might get a little antsy about where their product is.  I just didn’t want the pressure.

As such, I chose to do this self-funded, on my own schedule, at my own pace, and it is a very slow pace.  Only now, after years of research and the occasional interview, am I finally getting on the road toward completion, where I can actually see the shape that it will eventually take.  It is possible that I will need to do crowd funding in the future for finishing this film, but at that point, it’s a different ball game; if I need funds, it’s to hire other people to do the things that I cannot.  And then I am not subject to my own limitations of working around my schedule.

I have put a lot of miles on my car, interviewing people, going to locations, gathering footage and data, researching the subject, reading countless books written by Contactees and analysts of Contactees, talking to people I never thought I’d meet, going to UFO conventions and finding the True Believers and the skeptics, poring through hundreds of hours of archival audio and video, and finally, editing and developing the visual style of this film.

As an animator by profession, it is my intention to make this film look good.  That is secondary to a good solid film, of course, but I am working hard to find ways to integrate the visual aspects of visual and substantive aspects so that they support one another in a cohesive way.

Many of the jobs I’ve had with insane production schedules have been the ideal training ground for this film: on those productions, I had to work quickly and efficiently in order to meet airing schedules.  Now I have the luxury of my own schedule, but for my own sanity, I want to get this out the door.  Thanks to those earlier experiences, I have a unique set of skills that will allow me to accomplish this (To paraphrase Liam Neeson.)

In future updates, I will post some of my visual development of this film.  I hope that is when you will understand how it is not just another documentary, but something different.