Posts Tagged ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore’

“Everything we’re doing is bootstrapped and frugal, and seat-of-our pants in a MacGyver kind of way.”
Brandon Oldenburg

“We are a story-telling company and we like to innovate in new ways of telling stories. Short films don’t make any money really, they just become calling cards for who you are and what you’re about.”
Brandon Oldenburg

I ended the last post (Filmmaking in the Other LA) with a line from the Moonbot Studios trailer for their Oscar-winning film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore where its says Morris Lessmore is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

“Old fashioned and cutting edge” has a nice ring to it, so I thought it deserved its own post.

Here is the line in full context on their Vimeo account:

Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, ‘Morris Lessmore’ is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award willing author/illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and M-G-M Technicolor. “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

And don’t get fooled that into thinking that Brandon Oldenburg and William Joyce are just two “swamp rats” who emerged from the backwaters of Louisiana and got lucky on their way to winning their first Academy Award. Check out their set Moonbot set-up:

They employ 35 employees in Shreveport, Louisiana and besides making movies they also create and sell mobile apps, interactive ebooks, games, and books.

Why Louisiana?

“If you’re looking to create a startup, go someplace where you have a whole town to back you up. Here we’re the only fish in the pond.” 
Brandon Oldenburg

But also don’t forget that Louisiana is the third largest state for film production in the United States. It’s also a state that, unless something changed recently, has been very aggressive with film incentives.

In the excellent article Meet Moonbit, the tiny startup that won an Academy Award by Heather Kelley covers a lot of ground in exploring Moonbot. And it’s also where all of these great quotes by Oldenberg come. And Kelley explains some of the old fashioned ways they develop their cutting edge stories;

“The studio even puts on live puppet shows. ‘Live audience interaction is great way to develop stories,’ explained Oldenburg. The studio has tested stories and characters by building puppets and staging live shows for local audiences in Shreveport. ‘It’s this whole new revolution of handmade. Etsy and Kickstarters, they’re all underdogs in a way, but they’re also beautiful and pure in a way too. We want to continue down that path for ourselves.'”
Heather Kelly

Scott W. Smith


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“This is awesome for Louisiana.”
Julie Bordelon
Lafayette Entertainment Initiative

“This is the first Academy Award ever received by a Shreveport artist and a strong affirmation of the role arts in brining international recognition, employment and a culturally generated economy to Shreveport.”
Shreveport, La. Mayor Cedric Glover

The other LA, of course, is Louisiana. At the 2012 Academy Awards author/illustrator William Joyce and co-Director Brandon Oldenburg won an Oscar (Best Achievement in Animated Short Film) for their film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

My favorite lines from the entire 2012 Academy Awards:

“Look, we’re just these two swamp rats from Louisiana. We love the movies more than anything. It’s been a part of our lives since we were both kids.”
William Joyce

Oldenburg added, “It’s been a part of our DNA since we were children, and it’s made us storytellers.
Of course, their acceptance speech was almost as long as their 14-minute film, but you have to cut them some slack because Oscars aren’t common for swamp rats.

They’ve already received a shout-out from Governor Jindal, “”Tonight, Louisiana celebrates this Oscar win with the exceptionally talented and creative staff of Moonbot Studios” and a parade is planned for them next Monday. That’s what happens when filmmakers breakthrough from “unlikely places.”

But as I wrote back in 2008 in a post titled Sex, Lies & Mr. Bill (Screenwriting from Louisiana, there’s been some mojo kicking around in Louisiana for quite some time.  And just last month in the post Four Year Anniversary I mentioned how Benh Zeitlin’s film Beasts of the Southern Wild (shot in Louisiana) was creating buzz at this year’s Sundance.

Here’s the trailer for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Notice that it taps into a little bit of both The Artist and Hugo in being inspired by books and Buster Keaton. On their Vimeo account it says “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

Related posts:
Hugo & The Artist
Harold Loyd & Buster Keaton (Super Bowl Special)
Comedy, Cruelty & Chaplin
Taking a Bath in New York City
Old Fashioned & Cutting Edge (A look inside Moonbot Studios)

Scott W. Smith

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