As the winner for the Best Animated Movie Award with his film IG-88: The Dancing Robot for the Fan Movie Challenge presented by Lucasfilm and AtomFilms, filmmaker Anton Bogaty mixes clever animated characters with a catchy soundtrack from friend Ollie Glatzer (aka Mr. Zillion). The Seattle-based filmmaker chats about why bounty hunter IG-88 just so happens to have some skills on the dance floor with a little help from Mixmaster Lobot.
What prompted you to make a Star Wars fan film? How has George Lucas and his films influence your work?
I wanted to try and make a music video using some of the electronic music my friend Ollie Glatzer (aka Mr. Zillion) produces. The first idea was a more original piece starring a nameless robot but I think it was Ollie who started to push for a Star Wars-oriented idea. I figured that I would just try and get all of my Star Wars appreciation out into this one video and then swear to never desecrate Lucas’ creations ever again. I was a little kid when the original trilogy was released and it was clearly obvious even to a five-year-old that the Star Wars films were just so full of amazing artistic detail and love for cinema that only the living dead could escape their influence. American Graffiti is still a film that I watch over and over again. I just make nonsense cartoons but that movie is basically a two-hour film school education for my soul. It’s just an amazing movie.
What is the backstory regarding your film? Where did you get your idea?
For some reason Ollie and I became fixated on the IG-88 character. Along with the Snowtrooper, he was the action figure to have back in 1980. It might have been because he came equipped with two blue guns. As cool as he was, he still came across as a bit awkward. It’s hard to really imagine him truly doing action moves in the heat of battle, having toasters for feet and all. But he compensated by wielding two guns I suppose. Ollie’s music was a solid dance beat so the idea quickly became IG-88 trying to hang out in an Imperial night club of sorts. We fixed on the idea of trying to make the film in early April of this year. I knew of the Star Wars fan film contest and we found out its deadline was May 1. It quickly became a challenge of sorts to do the whole thing in a month’s time. I’m always one who enjoys working under a tight deadline, doing the best I can and living with the results, I guess. Again, I figured that I would never get to make another Star Wars-themed video ever again so I stuffed it with everything I appreciated and could remember regarding the franchise.
What is your background in film? Did you make films as a youngster?
I made the required number of painful-to-watch Super 8 films and edited-in-the-camera VHS videos before college. While at the University of Tennessee I teamed up with some animators and made 16mm experimental shorts, using primarily stop-motion techniques with cut-out color pencil drawings. I still own the Bolex from that period which is probably my most treasured possession. We showed our films together under the title “Sloppy Toons,” receiving either faint praise or general confusion from our peers. Since then I moved to Seattle and wound up working for a small animation company. I was forced to learn certain software and practices for company projects which I’ve been able to apply to my own short films in recent years. Last year I completed a short, dramatic animated film called Coburn which has been in several film festivals and screenings. I’m currently on a schedule to complete 3-5 similar short films a year for a series entitled Tales of Mankind.
What are some of the technical aspects of your film? What did you shoot and edit with?
All of the characters were hand-drawn (except the brief 3-D part at the end) and cleaned up in Photoshop, along with the backgrounds. Most of the film was timed out in Flash, then everything was pieced together and finally rendered out in After Effects. I have a fairly decent production pipeline laid down so I can just concentrate on the art and animation now and let it just flow through the software already properly configured and waiting to render what’s required.
What were some of the challenges and surprised that happened to you as you were creating your movie?
It’s always nice to find out what you’re capable of within a tight deadline. I was squeezing this one in between day job, freelance illustration work, other films, and family duties, so there were a few moments when I figured it just wouldn’t get finished. It’s nice to know that you can trust yourself to make the right choices and decisions needed to get things simply pieced together, perhaps not perfect, but to be able to pull any type of project into the realm of completion when it needs to be.
Who were all the principle people in helping get the film made? Who would you like to thank?
Ollie Glatzer has been composing original music and creating amazing sound design for me for about two years now. I wouldn’t be able to make my movies without his talents. Jonathan Stroh is a super-talented artist/animator who thankfully helps me out when I become overwhelmed and usually winds up creating the better animated moments in our collaborations. Tim Thoreen and Nick Rudolph jumped in at the last second to throw together a little 3-D action for the video which had to be shortened due to time but those guys are professionals through and through.
Why do you think recognizing fan films is important?
To be honest, this is my first attempt at a fan film. I had seen some of the older Star Wars fan films when starting IG-88 but really had no idea how far the concept, as far as budget and number of production hands, had really been taken in recent years. I’m sure more and more the creators of these films will attempt to use them to springboard into more original material and eventually entertainment careers. Filmmakers whose works are idolized by large fan bases will hopefully adopt Lucas’ appreciative stance towards movies based on their ideas. I could see where the lines start to get crossed when it comes to copyrighted material but Lucas can obviously see the potential in these ultimate cinematic fan letters that thousands of people feel compelled to create.
If you could meet George Lucas, what would you say?
I’m sure he’s heard enough nonsense in his lifetime so I guess I would only show a little quiet appreciation.
Head over to starwars.atomfilms.com to watch all the winning films.
Check back soon for more profiles on the winning filmmakers.