SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With animated films like Lego Movie coming out soon, and the great success of Golden Globe winner Frozen, there is no doubt that animation continues to explore our imagination. Filmmaker Joseph Oxford gives us a world we have never seen before in his animated film Me + Her. The grandiose world of cardboard.
In this tale of love, Jack Cardboard, the protagonist, mourns the loss of his beloved Jill. He yearns for his lost love so much so that he is willing to try anything to be with her once again. This ultimately leads him to the recycling plant where he must make that leap of faith that could potentially bring his Jill back to life.
Me + Her could easily be one of the best animated films at this festival. Its sweet, romantic, alluring love story will capture the hearts of audiences everywhere. It will be surprising if it leaves a dry eye in the house. The photography is an amazing visual experience.
Oxford took some time out of his busy schedule to give NewsChannel 3 an in depth look behind the film.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
I was killing time while rendering out an animation sequence on my computer and I made a very crude version of one of the puppet's heads with some of the items strewn about my desk: a scrap of cardboard, a rubber band, and a pencil. I grew a liking to him and started thinking about the world he would inhabit, and I crafted a story around that.
How long did it take you to make this film?
That crude version of the puppet head was made in late 2007, but I didn't really start writing and building the sets and characters until December of 2008.
I made (and remade) all of the puppets and a good portion of the sets between then and March 2013, when I moved the production down to Los Angeles. From there, we spent 7 months building the remaining sets and shooting them.
We finished postproduction on January 8, 2014.
Why choose a cardboard world?
Again, going back to that original puppet I made, I guess there was just never any question in my mind that he would be made out of anything else. Because he was made out of cardboard, I figured his world would be made out of cardboard as well.
It also didn't hurt that cardboard is a pretty low/no-cost material, and I knew I was going to need a lot of it.
Talk about some of those challenges and hardships in making this film.
I could write a tome on the challenges and hardships of making this film. Independent filmmaking is incredibly challenging on its own, but there are a couple of standout problems:
Because the characters were made out of cardboard, the delicate joints would break after prolonged use. There were back ups for the main characters, but some of the more involved sequences pushed their limits. Fixing key puppets or set pieces on the day slowed us down tremendously.
Additionally, we didn't have the luxury of building the sets and shooting in a proper sound stage. We were in a dirty old warehouse in East L.A. in the middle of a heat wave. With no air conditioning and being forced to keep the roll up doors shut for lighting, the heat was crippling and killing the whole crew, and we were working on sets where a drop of sweat would cost us the shot. Luckily our crew didn't mutiny and we were able to finish up the week.
What got you interested in animation?
I've always had an appreciation for animation, but never intended to pursue making animated films. The little I have done was born out of necessity: I didn't know any actors or crew members, so it was really one of few ways I could tell stories by myself.
Originally, I was going to shoot ME + HER by myself, before realizing what I had written was a bit more ambitious than that.
What message do you want to leave audiences with after watching this film?
I just hope they're able to get invested in these characters. If they can feel for these pieces of cardboard, then I think we've succeeded.
How does it feel to have your film be accepted into the acclaimed Santa Barbara International Film Festival?
The positive responses from the festivals have been a really great cherry on top of the whole process. Santa Barbara is a beautiful city and I've only heard great things about the festival, so I'm really excited to have the opportunity to screen our film there.
Is there anything anything else you would like say about your film that we haven't covered?
Because all of our crew members so graciously volunteered their time, we had a semi-rotating crew based on their availability and it ended up being over 100 people.
Me + Her will screen at the 29th Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday, January 31 at 10:10 p.m. and Sunday, February 2 at 7:20 p.m. Both screenings will be at the Metro 4 Theatre.
For tickets, schedules and additional information, visit www.sbiff.org