Studio AKA, the London-based masters of the quirky character, have finally launched a new site and also posted this trailer for their newest short film “VARMINTS.” These folks seem top themselves visually every time and they’re pretty good at telling a story to boot. So, I assure you this one is not to be missed.
VARMINTS is the follow up to our 2004 Bafta winning film ‘Jo Jo in the Stars’. Adapted & Directed by Marc Craste, VARMINTS is a 24 min film based on the award-winning book by Helen Ward & illustrated by Marc, that tells the story of one small creature’s struggle to preserve a world in danger of being lost forever through recklessness and indifference.
It will have its London premiere in September this year and will also be showing at the LA International Short Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
Varmints began life as a book collaboration between aka director Marc Craste and renowned author and illustrator Helen Ward. Helen approached Marc having seen his commercial work and wrote the story of Varmints with him in mind to illustrate. At around the same time production was winding up on JoJo in the Stars and the studio was looking for a new project to challenge itself both technically and creatively. As the book neared completion it became apparent to Philip Hunt – Studioaka‘s creative director – that it could be just the material needed.
So in the late summer of 2006 Craste began expanding the story from it’s poetic form in the book to something that would more readily hold a cinema audience‘s attention. As sequences were written and mapped out in rough storyboards, it became apparent that while always planned to be twice the length of JoJo, Varmints would be far more than twice the work. And considerably more costly, no small concern for producer Sue Goffe given the film was to be entirely self-financed by the studio. But despite it being an enormously challenging film in so many areas – and especially when for the most part it would need to be produced alongside a slate of high profile commercials – enthusiasm for the project continued unabated.
Previsualisation started early 2007. By the summer principle animation was well underway, using animators in Germany and France as well as any that were temporarily free from commercial work in the London studio. Studioaka heavyweight James Gaillard, a long time collaborator with Craste on numerous award winning commercials and films, was brought in full time to supervise the production , bringing his extraordinarily diverse skills to bear on every aspect of the film. A few days before Christmas saw the Prague Philharmonic orchestra and chorus recording Johann Johannsson´s beguilingly beautiful score. In early 2008 Adrian Rhodes, a veteran of sound design having headed up sound for films as varied as Tomorrow Never Dies to The Full Monty, set about bringing to life the characters and the world of Varmints. In July 2008 , almost two years to the day after the first storyboard panels were drawn, the final frames of Varmints were rendered, the sound and music mixed, and with a mixture of relief and sadness the studio wrapped up production.
Written, designed and directed by
CGI Supervision/Production Design
Music composed and orchestrated by
the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
Sound Edited and Mixed by
Adapted from the book Varmints
By Helen Ward and Marc Craste