Back to the Drawing Board

Starting with a clean slate
Revisiting the storyboard after rethinking the story


Guy Whitey REALIZES...

This is the painful truth that must thread through this story....in the most entertaining way possible.


Progress and Blocks

Recently I had brief surge of energy and progress on the film. A seemingly impassible mental block immediately followed

I assembled all of the rough animation that I had, cut it into the animatic and added some preliminary sound effects. The goal was to have something substantial to show to a small group of friends to get some honest feedback on how the story was reading.

Despite the useful feedback, the general reaction was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped. The pacing was too even, lacking dynamic. The character was too passive. There were moments that seemed to work, but not enough to really sell the story or to empathize with Guy. My biggest fear of this film being nothing more than a novelty that quickly wears off was starting to surface. And my momentum slowed to a halt.

Since that session, I haven't taken the time to seriously rework the story. I have notes, ideas, thoughts, suggestions, but no progress. This is partially due to a lack of time but mostly it has to do with the frustration of not knowing where the hell to begin. This film has been looming over me for so long, and I have put a fair amount of work into it so far that the thought of throwing away scenes and starting from scratch makes me want to throw up. Part of me wants to just pack it all up in a box and forget about it. The never ending hustle to balance freelance gigs to pay the rent and appeasing clients is consuming all of my time and motivation.

If anyone has any words of wisdom on story, motivation or time managment...I'd love to hear them.



Found these thumbnail sketches for scene 3 while reorganizing . Thinking through a scene with tiny drawings is a good way to save paper. I also found a few unrelated thumbnails that are posted on Sketch-A-Doodle Doo.

Below is the corresponding pencil test. A few minor adjustments, and it needs some softer settles, but for the most part the scene was figured out and just needed inbetweens.



I wrote my summary, my artist statment, my bio, gathered my work samples and submitted the application for the 2007 Bush Foundation Fellowship...now I wait. Wait to see if the panel of judges are interested in animation. There doesn't seem to be many grants out there for animated films specifically (at least none that I found), so I'm learning how to present my work to people outside of the animation world. Apparently, it's not impossible for animators to receive grants traditionally reserved for painters, interpretive dancers, and basket weavers. This is not the first time I'm applying for grant money for this film. My past attempts have failed for a variety of reasons, from poor presentation to an obviously fabricated budget, but with each failure I learn a little bit more. Corny I know, but it's true. I learn how to talk about myself, my work, how to write a budget., etc. Talking about myself and my work is always a difficult balance between honest confidence and arrogant bullshit. If I know I'm shoveling bullshit, I'm always the first to smell it. So hopfeully a balance was found this time. Organizing my production and my thoughts for this grant has helped me connect with talented people willing to lend a hand in all aspects of production, from rough animation, to sound, to digital project for the live show. If I do get this fellowship, it will give me the time and money I need to complete the film. Once the film is complete and ready to screen, I can focus on all of the new technical challenges and finacial obstacles that the live show presents. The 2007 Bush Foundation Grant is for $48,000. Not a huge budget in animation, but it's more money than zero...which is what I have now..which is why it is taking years to finish the film...so for now, I am going to continue preparing for a 2007 production with a $48,000 budget. The Bush Foundation won't announce the grantees until March.....so until then...I wait.


New Rough Tests

A few people have asked to see the stage straight on. So Here it is. It's basically the rough test with sound and a hint at the title.


P.O.M. on Cartoon Brew

Just wanted to say thanks to Jerry Beck for including Parade of Monkeys on the Cartoon Brew site. I've been getting a lot of encouraging responses from people who may have never found this blog.

And thanks to Joe Merideth over at Chewbone for pointing Jerry in this direction.



My goal for this film is to project the animation on multiple screens in a theatrical setting, mixed with live performance, lighting fx and live music.

This is a test I put together to get an idea of what this might look like. I'm hoping it will help sell the idea when applying for grants. Explaining this on paper has proven to be difficult. The animation is just the rough test I posted earlier composited onto the stage mock-up. I added fx's and stills from other scenes to help communicate how the story might unfold visually. The multiple screens will rise to reveal the full screen which I'm assuming will be rear projected.

But first things first...I need to finish the film. The production is being designed and planned so that the film can stand alone, ready for festival submissions and the adapt to create the live show....which will be a whole different animal. Surprisingly, I've been teaming up with some people here in Minneapolis who are supportive and willing to help make it happen.



I finally got around to creating some official Model Sheets.

My delusions of finishing this film as a one man operation flew out the window a few weeks ago. As a result, I've been focusing on getting my shit together.



Inspired by the design style of Todd Hemker, I've been playing around with adding some texture to the character and/or the background.


As promised in the title of this film.....

A big part of the film still in development.

So big in fact....It's almost like a second film.

If this is ever going to be a finished film, I really need to start applying for grants again.....but it's been difficult convincing people my cartoon is "art" so therefore they should give me money. Perhaps it's my a self effacing approach drenched in false positivity and peppered with obviously fabricated budgets that turn them off. Maybe they just hate cartoons.....or monkeys (an impossibility by the way).

I've been having trouble connecting this film to any social relevance.....an ear-perker for grant givers. Because I am hoping to have the soundrack performed by a High School marching band, maybe this film can help premote keeping Music and Art in the public school system, something I actually support and have an opipnion on. Hell, I could even teach an animation workshop in Art classes and screen student films with this one in a High School Auditorium at a fundraising event to supprt Art and Music programs

If anyone has any wisdom to share on writing, recieving, and utilizing grants for animated films, or any information on organizations that support music and art programs...
please feel free to leave a comment or email me : mike.humdinger@gmail.com


The first time ever I saw your face

I finally made it to a scene that features Guys face in close up. His basic, long shot design has a very simple face, but in close-up, it seemed to limit his range of expression. So I decided to ignore the simple design and draw his face to fit the expression rather than force the expression to fit his face.

These are a few frame grabs from the first pencil test of that scene.


Partial Pencil Test

Here is an edit of some rough animation. It tells the part of the story where things begin to go horribly wrong for Guy.

Animating a 10 minute film is a daunting task especially when it feels like you are basically animating one long scene. I haven't decided yet if this makes me an idiot.
But it is fun. My next goal is to convince someone to send me a weekly paycheck so that I can devote all of my time to to this one long scene. Any takers?

Seriously. Click the DONATION button on the side. You will be my friend for ever. If you donate a substantial amount...you'll be credited as my Executive Producer as well!


Render Styles

The only time available to work the film was spent playing around with simple Photoshop filters and settings to help me develop the render style.

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.


Desktop Motivation

I constantly find the need to remind myself to work on my film
I'm usually staring at my monitor all day working on everthing else
So I made this my new desktop

I animated 2 scenes last week and 1 scene this week, so I guess it's working.


Who is Guy Whitey?

With each new scene, each new action, and each new pose, I learn more and more about the psyche of Guy Whitey. Currently his outlook on the world and perception of himself are holding up despite the unexpexted turns in his path. But the journey has only begun and the situation will only get worse.


Falling back into animation

Almost a year has past since I last animated Guy. I've doodled him a thousand times and thought about him everyday. The last time we saw each other, he had just lost his shiney red box and was about to take a long, hard fall.

I decided early on to forget everything I learned about animation production by choosing to animate each scene in sequential order. That way I could take this journey with Guy and see where it takes us. I do have a storyboard but I haven't really looked at it for almost three years. The basic story structure is in my head and has been for a while, but it's open to unexpected twists and turns. The scene above was not in the original story.

The scene plays much better if you imagine him screaming like a little girl.


The Main Character

This film will primarily be a solo performance for Guy Whitey.

His co-star is a shiney red box.


The Background Layout

Guy Whitey
The star of the film
Proudly displays his most prized possesion
In front of The Background Layout


Posting my notes
Is an attempt
To be organized


some people like to look at shit like this


I do anyway


Style and Color

After years of searching and experimenting with the look of the film, I am currently settled on this.

It could change tomorrow. Nothing is sacred at this point.

But I do like this one.


The Beginning of this Blog

What you are now reading is the start of a production blog for a film I've been trying to make for the past four years.

The storyboards are complete.
The characters have been designed.
Rough animation test have occured.
Grant money has been refused.

So I am giving up my freelance life, looking for a real job, and seeing if I can actually make it through the production of...

"Parade of Monkeys"