Thursday, August 11, 2005

Zank you very much

Zank is ready. You might be more excited about this if you knew what "Zank" was, so let me tell you. "Zank" is a short stop motion animated film that I made a few years ago for the Flicker Film Festival in Richmond, Va. Every fall they hold an event called "Attack of the 50 Foot Reels" where participates create a movie from one roll of b&w or color silent Super 8 film. It's an in-camera edit and the filmmakers see their effort warts and all the night of the festival along with a crowd of one hundred plus folks. I've dared the task twice now, the first time I contributed a mini-documentary about my wife's painting called "Float" and then there's "Zank". I had been itching to do some animation and stop motion fit with the limited time available. I considered various ideas and roughed out some thumbnail storyboards, and that thing happened to me. That thing is the bad habit of getting too elaborate, biting off the big chew and never finishing the project, so I decided to try a different approach. Instead of trying to figure out every little detail, I'd just wing it. I had a "feeling" a definite "theme" was manifesting itself, so I gathered together some simple, pre-made characters to film (called toys) and over the next few nights wandered my way through the fifty feet of film. I finished well before the deadline, posted the exposed reel off and forgot about it until a few days before the event. That's when I thought about a soundtrack, what to do? At previous events, I'd seen folks do everything from live accompaniment on electric guitar to spoken word to just throwing on a commercial CD. As I had no particularly music in mind when I was shooting and lacking in musical skills my own self, I started hunting for a song. My criteria was: one - had to be around three minutes and twenty seconds long (the length of a fifty foot roll of Super 8 film projected at eighteen frames a second) and two - it had to be funky. What I wound up selecting was a Tom Waits song off "Alice" called "Kommienezuepadt" which met the requirements better then I could have designed. The night of the festival, "Zank" unreeled to lots of laughs and a big round of applause. "Kommienezuepadt" eerily matched the rhythm and feel of the animation, so much so that I had a hard time thinking about other music for the piece. I briefly considered looking into getting rights, but that provide beyond reach and I shelved the piece and life rolled on.

Fast forward to April 2004. I'm in Edinburgh, Scotland attending "Dead by Dawn". There I have the good fortune to met Neil Spencer Bruce; film fanatic, world traveler, blogger, and most importantly musician. Between b-movies and pints Neil volunteers to write, perform and record a new soundtrack for "Zank". The world is full of people who enjoy talking, in fact many of those same people believe that by talking about something, you have actually accomplished something other then converting O2 into CO2. Neil is not one of those people. E-mails started appearing in my inbox with links to copies of "Zank" with new soundtracks and every time I made a suggestion, WHAM Neil was on the job adding in his own good ideas until I couldn't remember the Tom Waits version. Yeah, Neil is that good.

So, without further ado I present:

note: this is a 5.82 Mb QuickTime movie. Neil will be hosting a WMV version soon.

I'm looking around for festivals to enter, so if you have any recommendations hip me to'em.

Thank's for looking and any comments are welcomed.



  1. Weird, confusing, funny. I didn't get what you were trying to say until the end, then it all fell into place. Cool.

  2. Whey hey! MR Zank is up! Thanks for the heads was a pleasure working on Zank. It also goes to show that distance is not an issue in collaboration! TO the next one.....

  3. Thank you to my two faithful readers. Neil, TO the next one indeed.

    OK HW