Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mike Nguyen's My Little World

Sorry if I haven’t posted anything in a while. It can be hard when you’re trying to think of what all to talk about when there’s so much you want to say. I will try to get around to posting more whenever possible.

Anyways, on to the article.

One thing that tends to interest me about hand-drawn animated films over other mediums of animation is finding out who some of the artists and animators are and finding out what all they worked on or ARE working on. Some of these are pretty familiar, like many of Disney’s biggest names, but some aren’t very well known outside of certain animation circles. One of these names in the latter is Mike Nguyen, who, in spite of having an animation career that has spanned from Disney (Beauty And The Beast) to Warner Bros. (Space Jam, Quest Of Camelot, The Iron Giant) to Dreamworks (The Road To El Dorado) to others (Once Upon A Forest, The Pagemaster), is very unfamiliar to the public. Hopefully, his dream project will change that.

Since 2000, he’s been working on a hand-drawn animated film known as “My Little World”. I found out about it not too terribly long ago, but needless to say, just one look at that in-progress trailer on Youtube and I was fascinated by what I saw. Not only were the designs cute and appealing, but the animation was incredible. There was a real sense of flow, weight, and energy to it. But don’t take my words for it, check it out!

Doesn’t that just look so interesting? I’m not even a sports fan and I’m still intrigued by what I saw. It looks like it was created by someone that really understands the art of hand-drawn animation and really loves the medium. And with a career like his, Mike certainly seems like just the kind of person who’d work on an independent animated film project like this.

From what I heard, the story is pretty basic, about a little boy who is upset over a loss and is sent to stay with his aunt in the countryside for the summer, since his parents hope the change of scenery would do him good. While there, he befriends some of the local kids in town and gets drawn into their self-made summer soccer tournament. It basically sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki kid’s movie mixed with The Sandlot, only instead of baseball, the sport in question is soccer, or football, as it’s known to the rest of the world. And hopefully, there won’t be crude language or an unfortunate vomiting storm on a Tilt-A-Whirl set to The Champs’ “Tequila”.

However, just from what I’ve read on the film’s website and in interviews, Mike really put a lot of thought as to what his intentions and themes with this film will be. As he said in his recent interview with the animation blog, FLIP:

“My Little World is a hand-drawn theatrical feature film about the purity of innocence, the joy of living through simple day-life experiences and the very endearing warmth of true friendships. For me, such abstract and intricate experiences of feelings and emotions can be best conveyed through senses of motion - that is really what animation is wonderfully capable of.”

Just from the sound of it, I figure Mike’s out to make a movie that’s pure Sweet Dreams Fuel, an optimistic and bright film that embraces a lot of the wonders of simple everyday life, similar to such Hayao Miyazaki kid’s films like “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” while intertwining such complex themes into its straightforward narrative while still appealing to the young AND the young-at-heart. As long as it doesn’t talk down to kids and treats them seriously, I’m all for it.

The film IS still in production as of now, though, and Mike had also mentioned in this interview that he’s trying to find investors willing to fund such a project. According to him:

“The problem has been that, although the budget of an indie animated film is very small compared to a studio film, it is still larger than a modest live-action production. And, to date, very few indie animated features from around the world have made their investment back, however small their budgets.

“I feel that smaller films with fresh, diverse and interesting contents will be a new future for the animation industry. The key to paving this path lies more in the film-makers than the investors. Every new independent animated film that has been released - and failed commercially - creates harder conditions for the next indie film to be made. But if just one independent film should succeed in a huge way, this will inspire a new framework in animated film-making, with a tremendous potential for growth both commercially and creatively.”

Well, I certainly hope that this movie is able to accomplish such a goal. However, there are two things I would like to suggest to Mike Nguyen on the highly unlikely chance that he’s reading this. One, consider Kickstarter in case you’re in need of extra funding and you haven’t found an investor yet, and two, avoid the Completion Bond Company like the plague. (Richard Williams wishes that HE followed that last step…)

I could go more into this, but I just want to conclude by saying that this sounds like a really, really good animated film and I hope its production and release is a success. I, for one, definitely look forward to seeing it. In the meantime, here are some links: 

The Home Page for My Little World and the production company, July Films:

Mike Nguyen’s Blog, Rainplace: 

A Harvey Deneroff commentary related to the film and Mike Nguyen (May 18, 2003):

The Youtube Page, where you can see some behind-the-scenes stuff related to the film’s creation:

Animation Insider Interview (March 22, 2012):