Production update – 10 minutes, release in July!

8 April, 2015 |  23 Comments | by Ton Roosendaal

filmfundletterWe’ve always worked with two scenarios – the bigger one with Film Fund support – and a smaller one based on the crowdfunding and Blender Cloud subscription income. We now have the news that the Netherlands Film Fund will not support the project. Bummer! The Fund feedback was that it’s partially because it’s not a real short film or coherent short story (but the beginning of something bigger), partially because we already started work on it and have a lot of own funding already. There’s also nothing really typical Dutch in the film or the story, nor does it have a Dutch director (and we use a big international team), but that they didn’t officially mention as reason to not support us. It did not help us either! Well, it’s their money! We now know how to continue at least.

In short that means:

– We complete the first “world” in the next 3 months. All of the stuff that gets the story started.
– That means a length of approx 10 minutes (without credits). It will end with Franck finding himself as a caterpillar in the jungle world.
– July is for wrap-up: presentation work, online premiere, theater premiere, tutorial making, authoring dvd and/or bluray, and post all the stuff in cloud.
We then take a short break from Gooseberry. We want to wait for the feedback and reactions on the pilot. A lot of possibilities exist to keep working on it. My own preference (and realistic estimate) is to make it an episodic project, where each time new parts of the film (usually new “worlds”) get added when sufficient funding is in via Cloud subscriptions and other sources. This either by our team in the studio here, or by the external teams who started Gooseberry up with us.

In the Blender Institute studio we then enjoy some holidays and move on to make new tutorials and learning material, and — as a fun project for the summer — a new Caminandes episode!



23 Responses

  1. HPetrus says:

    This is an unusual approach to funding and executing a project either way – one which is fuelled by more willpower than anything else. At least now you know what you’re dealing with, as you mentioned, and you can proceed boldly forward. Never look backward. You can’t afford to on a project like this, anyway. You’re all forging ahead into new territory, but such things get noticed by the right people along the way. Also, in situations like this, the rules, regulations and motivations for funding organizations perhaps show their partial outdatedness for fostering new ways of doing things.

    The work that’s already been done for Gooseberry on both the technical and the creative are unlike anything Blender Institute/Foundation/Studio has been involved with before. Clearly, you’re all doing the most important things right.

    Just keep moving forward!

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words. :) It’s actually not such bad news – it makes the project a bit more focused on what we should do and (hopefully!) can do in time!

    • Tom Telos says:

      Hi, Ton!

      You obviously have a passion for toons, and I have to respect that,
      but when it comes to promoting Blender to the movie industry,
      your best project to date, I think, was Tears of Steel.

      Maybe this Gooseberry is jinxed enough that,
      once you get your 10 minute “pilot”, you should go back to a search for realism?

      • Anonymous says:

        I hope that never happens! as a user i don’t care about the movie industry and what it wants… sure that bringing them into Blender will bring some more support but that support will only aim their own interests as big companies and won’t do any good for small insitus and individuals.
        Realism (the kind that you try to point out of cource) is not something that everyone can put it to use, mostly because of technical and hardware limitations, focusing on that will only make those companies stronger and eventually helps killing individual film makers.
        I like the ways the things are, “a bit of this, a bit of that” seems like a good approach to me.

      • Reaction59 says:

        Tom, I agree entirely. Having seen some of the amazing architectural visualisations, ‘human’ characters and machinery created in Blender+Cycles, I was surprised when Gooseberry turned out to be another cartoon (although I still donate to the project). I’m sure skilled Blender artists could create two highly detailed ‘human’ male and female characters, voiced by real actors, with the story set in an incredibly real urban environment. That would surely make people notice Blender, since big studios don’t dare to create non-human lead ‘stars’.

        • Beorn says:

          “big studios don’t dare to create non-human lead ‘stars’.”

          I won’t list all the great recent movies with non human stars, but the last movie I worked on for a big studio had a star made entirely out of Lego plastic. Cartoons are not only successful, but they’re great fun to make.
          VFX is also fun, but there’s room for both styles, as well as styles nobody’s thought of yet.

        • Matray says:

          Doing cg movies with photorealistic humans are a bit pointless to me. Grab a camera and shoot actors ! You will have to do it either way for the voices… Telling stories you couldn’t do with any other tools makes way more sense. And plastic toys, or animals can be tricky to work with to capture a good shot :)

          • Reaction59 says:

            Big studios use real actors because their names on the cast are guaranteed to draw in huge cinema audiences, even if the film is crap. Those actors’ salaries cost the studios millions. Alternatively, Pixar etc. continue to use the same-old crude cartoon characters, but don’t have to pay them salaries. Now just imagine ‘Blender Studios’ rendered stars… so beautiful that people will want to see them again and again, AND they will never ask for a salary. Big studios daren’t do this as it would kill the ‘star’ culture that drives their industry. But Blender could…

      • congcong009 says:

        In my understanding for the promoting Blender to the movie industry is not in a hurry for one more ToS which already proved the quality and capability of Cycles & Blender. What Cosmos promote for would be a team work production pipleline so there request a balance design for the movie plan. You can not be innovation for everything at one time. For ToS the focus part was the GPU calculation and conservative in team cooperation. For Cosmos you can see the BAM and Cloud etc are mainly focus on team cooperation even when the early design was gather a bunch of teams from global and work remotely. So it is better to keep other things conservative to make sure the movie can be finished. I should say this could be risk control. Why James Cameron give such a formulaic story for TITANIC and AVATAR? That is because he need to focus more on the new tech development.

    • nburgin says:

      So, is the plan to still do it as a feature film, but produce it piecemeal?
      Like, once it’s all finished, playing all episodes back-to-back would feel like a feature film format? Or is the feature film idea being abandoned in favor of discrete webisodes?

      • Elysia Brenner says:

        Once the pilot has been released, Ton and others will make a decision about this!

  3. Craig Jones says:

    I like that your plan encompasses a modular approach – that way, we might see much more in the long term than previously planned! It is already a great effort, and the changes have caused an evolution in the Blender we know and love :D

    Kudos to where you go now, the road much less traveled!

  4. Manuel says:

    That is rather sad news which i hope merely postpone the release of upcoming “episodes”. I fear the jungle part and the meeting with tara is crucial to give the positive vibe across (and give a better idea of what’s to come?). Looking forward to that! You keep your heads up and finish this fantastic beginning!
    Any other big fund scenarios for the future? (If it’s not considered a short, is it considered a feature? Is there fund money for feature films? EU maybe?)

    Great wishes!

  5. K.A.Byggjordet says:

    Have tou ever approached any movie distrubutions or producers that might be willing to fund further movie making? Preferably one dealing with indie movies. One person springs to mind. The daughter of the boss of Oracle. Forgot her name at the monent though. She does lots of indie movies and is loaded with cash.

  6. Kevin says:

    Well, it is an ambitious project, as is most things Blender and look still rolling with new development and creative endeavours after all of these years. Keep up the good work.

  7. Braeden says:

    I posted this on the G+ post, but not sure if I will get any eyes on it there, so I am copy pasting here:

    I like the episode idea, however I would prefer for the story to have a climax and ending. Hopefully there will be the opportunity to write and plan towards a set ending instead of the story continuing until it is eventually cancelled/abandoned. Hopefully the trailer is well received and the opportunity to still produce a full feature out of it exists. After all, I know part of the goal was to produce the first open animated feature, and I know I would love to see this goal fulfilled.

    Let’s see where the production gets us and leave the door open for a feature, I say.

    Will there be another round of crowd sourcing to try for a feature / more campaigning? I hope so.

  8. S J Bennett says:

    Ah, bummer.

    It would be great to see a few well-chosen teaser shots from the second part of the film after the credits finish rolling. Sort of a “Next time, on Cosmos Laundromat..” just to hammer home that the story goes on. I’d pick Tara emerging from the cocoon, Franck reacting to that, part of their treetop conversation and Tara disappearing again.

  9. Io says:

    I dont understand how a software that its used in all the world havent the support. Why?

  10. yacinedelucia says:

    isn’t it a bit weird …”google will not support ..”…”dutch film fund will not support”
    both of them at the same year in sync…wich both usually are supporting blender projects.every year..with project less ambitious than goosseberry,
    and when blender was not polished as it is now.
    is this really a coincidence?.
    don’t you think you woke up the big dogs by calling”free open full lenght animation movie”.made with free open source softwares/ just tried to step on to a lot of companies business.
    big animation/vfx studios and autodesk could pay to not let this project come to life.

    • nburgin says:

      Problems with this.
      A.) Autodesk _never_ supported blender for obvious reasons, this is not a change. And if you think they have the clout to control Google or the Dutch Film Fund and keep them away from Blender, I don’t know why you think that.
      B.) Google is not in the entertainment industry and doesn’t really have a reason care one way or the other. I don’t find it surprising that they don’t want to fund a movie, if they in fact funded previous Blender Institute projects, that would be what I would find surprising. Also, the fact that they lobbied extensively against SOPA and PIPA when the entertainment industry was pushing for them with all its strength suggests strongly that they are not in league with the big businesses of the entertainment industry.
      C.) Why would the Dutch Film Fund be in league with big business to try to keep blender down? That makes no sense. And the reasons they gave not to fund this (non-dutch director, no specifically dutch themes), even though they funded Sintel if I remember correctly (I think that movie was based on a Dutch comic book), make perfect sense given what kind of organization the Dutch Film Fund is.

      In short, I don’t think this is a conspiracy.

      • yacinedelucia says:

        yes may be it is not a conspirancy…but imagine you have a big shop
        seelling “little cakes” for 1$ and “10 times bigger cakes” for 2000$.
        be cause you have the expertise to make that “10 times bigger cake”.
        you have about 10 other competitor shops that sells the sames cakes
        for 1800$to 4000$.but each one have diffrent quality specs.
        but there is one little shop that used to crowd fund “little cakes” and give
        them to people for “free”.(no problem for you you sell them for 1$)that little shop continued to grow veeery slowly.
        more people bringing more fruits more receipts more ingredients.
        and one day this little shop decided to Make the “10 times bigger cake”and give it for “free”…with tools that are “free”(proof that you
        can start a cake shop with free tools)…you and the other 10 pro
        cake shops …will you let this happen ? that is my point.

      • Elysia Brenner says:

        Hey nburgin, I believe yacinedelucia is referring to Blender not being involved in this year’s Google Summer of Code as usual, which comes down to some changes in the expected application process, apparently. The Film Fonds actually didn’t cite the lack of a Dutch director as a reason not to fund, but rather the nature of the project: that it was not a stand-alone short, and that it was already in production. But indeed, a conspiracy is very unlikely. ;-)

  11. Tim H says:

    In the light of reality, there are many art forms alive in the mix of anarchy. Does one define barriers to the extent in how art is expressed? Sure there are personal favorites when it comes to art styles and concepts. But to question the imagination at the hand of another artist in the proccess of great success seams a bit like telling an oil painter to use crayons.

    “The power of an art piece is not in the science of the process, but in the story at it’s height of completion.”

    Gooseberry is bound for greatness as a project that brings blender to a new light. Our support is the power to change what we see, hear and feel from the film industry. Let us not continue to throw water on the fire. Let us build something together that will make the world turn their heads and look our way. Let us be in full support of Gooseberry!

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