I replied with a whole bunch of bad words I made up on the spot.
But being the curious little monkey I am, I ended the string of expletives with a suspicious, "What is it?"
J.J. patiently told me that I was going to be working on an animated opening for the ASIFA-EAST ANIMATION festival. And the way he said it made me even more suspicious.
So I asked him what the story was.
I asked him what the style was.
I asked him who was directing it.
Who was animating.
I could hear J.J. grin over the phone. "That your job. Come up with something. And I don't want to see it until it's done."
See, J.J. had been chatting with ASIFA-EAST Sooper President Linda Simensky and asked how he could help the organization. She said that she had always wanted the ASIFA-EAST festival to have an animated opening. So J.J. volunteered to do one on his dime.
And he gave it to me.
This was a gift.
A thank you.
An olive branch.
An ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.
And perhaps one of the events that got me to where I am today.
Because when J.J. said he was leaving it up to me, he really meant it.
I had to come up with a 1-2 minute concept.
I had to design it.
I had to storyboard it.
I had to hire a voice actor.
Organize a crew to animate it.
Find music and sound effects.
Direct post production.
In short, I got to make my own film and get paid for it.
It would take me months to describe all the things that happened during the production of what J.J. listed in the company's production schedule as MASTERPIECE-- a title I still, to this day, cringe at. But as I mentioned above, this project helped me to become a storyteller, a designer, a director, and a supervisor.
It made me realize how powerful it is to have a finished film.
It showed me the thrill of a theater full of people laughing at something you created!
And no, it's not the greatest film in the universe...
But it's mine.
(And it did get into a couple festivals!)
And while I'm pretty sure I thanked J.J. for this opportunity at some point, I highly doubt I did it properly. I was young and didn't know how.
So thanks, J.J. and Patrice.
For the gift.
The thank you.
The olive branch.
And the ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.
But enough of that crap. You probably wanna see this thing, right?
Well, okay. It's right over HERE.