Guys, I did it – I made South Africa’s first full-length 2D animated movie.
So, where to begin with this? Well, back in like 2006 or something I made a full-length Bru & Boegie film – a lot simpler than this one, it was black and white – as a kind of joke. It was just Bru & Boegie staring at a piece of cheese. They’d say stuff now and then, the cheese got up and left and came back, and the movie was something like 80 mins. The file was huge though, and I didn’t have enough space on my computer to comfortably keep it, and my Internet was much worse – it would have taken ages to upload it to YouTube. I think I didn’t even back it up, perhaps because it was bigger than the size of DVD. Anyways, the end result is I think I just deleted it.
About 13 years later, the idea came back to me – man, you know what, I should really do this. I was in the middle of production of ‘Bru & Boegie – Freelance Mountain’ and I had the idea of Bru sitting in meditation for a long time. Or at least, Bru invents a machine whereby his visions/imaginations during meditation or sleep can be recorded and converted to 2D, and he’s super excited to put it to use to make the first South African 2D animated film because it would be a really easy exercise to just record his epic dreams or imagination, but by the end of 90 minutes he asks Boegie to see the recordings and Boegie had forgotten to turn on the machine, and Bru would scream. I told my buddy James Wolfaardt the idea, and he thought it was great and kept encouraging me to make it. So, I started writing a script. The first few iterations of the script were a little snarky – stuff like, Bru & Boegie were talking about how they weren’t so focused on making the first GOOD South African 2D animated film, they just wanted to make the FIRST one because ‘being first’ in South Africa seems more important. But, after a while, Kayla Archer suggested I remove all of that, and I’m glad it did – the idea could stand on its own 2 feet (stumps) without it. So, I kept iterating on the script, had a wet humour version and a very dry and surreal version, took out all the stuff it didn’t need and was smart about economical about the project because Freelance Mountain was taking ages to complete (It took about 3 years of stops and starts to get it done) and I wanted to finish this one fairly quickly. I kept working it over and over until it sounded like it was Bru & Boegie speaking, and had a beginning and end that made sense and was easy enough to make in a short space of time. Here’s the script, it’s less than 2 pages:
Once the script was done, I was in the mood to record voice and did it all in a couple takes and made the animatic the same day. A little bit of tightening of the animatic, and then it was on to animation. I animated in Toon Boom Harmony Premium as I usually go, and drew backgrounds in Procreate on iPad with the Apple Pencil. Backgrounds get reused a lot, and I was smarter this time around about not making too much new stuff all the time. Once the animation was done, I used Ableton Live to add sfx from Splice, clean up and compress the voice and adjust level, and then added music to the Premiere Pro project, mostly from Essential Sounds. There’s like, a full 90 mins of cool chill relaxing music during the movie, so I’m hoping people stick it on in the background for while they’re studying or whatever.
I started the project about 2 months ago, and I had other work to do during this project, but I’m pleased at how quick I was able to turn it around.
Kayla helped me with the text layout for the movie’s poster that I dropped 2 days before its release:
On launch day, Kayla and I were in transit on the way back from Stellenbosch to Plett, and we pulled into a Wimpy in Calendon to view the film’s premiere at 1pm, Sat 20 Oct 2019. The Rugby World Cup was happening at the same time, South Africa playing Japan up on the TVs. We could see the online view count that about 8 people were watching, a couple people left comments on the ‘live chat’ which was cool.
My buddy James Wolfaardt watched THE WHOLE MOVIE from start to finish, and is probably the first and only person to do so – even I haven’t watched it start to finish completely. He’s offered to add his review (as the only person qualified to do so) which is rad.
So, the idea of the project is, it’s supposed to be a bit of a gaff – it’s not difficult to make the first 2D South African animated movie if most of it is a character sitting and meditating 🙂 there’s not much movement. But, to give credit to the idea, I made sure it was top-and-tailed with more animation and talking characters, as well as some kind of story to give the characters proper motivation. Bru & Boegie themselves create the movie because they themselves want to be the first to create South Africa’s first 2D animated movie. I did my research before the project, and it seems like it really *is* the first 2D animated South African film.
Apart from anything, I’m stoked to feature a project with so much meditation! I started transcendental meditation after high school, meditated *a lot* during Rhodes varsity days, and did a Vipassana 10-day meditation course in 2016 and have been getting back into it in bits and bobs. I think it’s a cool slice of life to show, instead of crash-boom-bang, here’s a pretty mellow film disguised as something else.
In some kind of 4th wall amazing event, at the end of the movie, Bru says “South Africa’s first 2D animated movie is going to be… me meditating for 90 minutes.” Boegie responds with “People won’t be happy about this.” Bru types away on his laptop and says “I’m adding it to Wikipedia.” Earlier today James mentioned that in fact the movie is now actually listed on Wikipedia. Whoever did this, you rock 🙂
So, ya – that’s it. I did this all on my Macbook Pro 2013, and by being smart about looping sections, was able to do it with the limited disk space I have, and even at 4k resolutions – perhaps not so impressive to anyone else, but I’m amazed and impressed with my machine. Rad.