We are making... a thing?
The production of Hatman has been a surprise, but a welcome one for sure. What started off as a flawed script for second year coursework has been fractured into sections that eight artists have brought to life. I never anticipated that the lanky man I sketched in my 'Nightmare before Christmas' notebook would jump loose from the page and feature in his own animated short.
This might sound pretentious, but Hatman genuinely came about from a mistake made by yours truly. I met Tom Jones (not that one) on the set of an ill-fated series pilot, and for some unknown reason, he kept bringing me onto his later productions to make concept art and storyboards. I can't recall which one of us found it (knowing how it went, probably me), but we spied a film competition by a certain broadcaster and thought we'd try spitballing a few ideas...
We met at the Redmonds Building, our base of operations at the time, and sat down for the discussion. The competition sounded promising, our concepts fruitful, but then Tom asked me for the deadline. In my defence, the bloody thing was all the way at the bottom of the webpage in a font two shades lighter than the background, but alas: we were one day over the deadline. Now, I'm fairly sure that most people would just pack up and move on, but not Tom. I swear you could drop him into a burning building and he'd nonchalantly escort the survivors to the nearest fire exit. His immediate response to my laughable error was something along the lines of 'okay, what else do we have?'
Enter the script for Hatman, or at least a draft five pages longer than the final version. With nothing to lose, I put together the film's concept art, Tom wrote up the shot list, and Hatman entered it's infancy. We tried a few things: approaching film companies, contacting studios and emailing universities. Looking back, it was naive of me, but I was anxious about building a team purely for the project. I'm the sort of person who cried uncontrollably when my childhood Tamagotchi died, so the pressure of directing actual human beings made me feel queasy.
Thankfully, I moved past it, and our little team began to assemble. It's ironic that most of them came to us from UCLan, because that was the one university we didn't think to approach. I have the remarkable David Harper to thank for introducing us to Jodie Walker, who went out of her way to bring her peers into the project. Without her enthusiasm and long list of talented friends, we would probably still be a team of four. God forbid, I might have tried my hand at animating, an effort I'd once attempted and gained an art block of two years. Rest assured, it didn't go that way. The whole thing bordered on being nonchalant; we assigned roles based off of everyone's specialties and went from there. It was tricky to have a full grasp of the projects progression due us lacking an office, but weekly updates and a precise schedule (courtesy of Tom) kept Hatman on its feet.
I was consistently astounded (and still am) by the quality of work the team has delivered. The beautiful backgrounds are courtesy of Jamie Walsh, made all the more stunning by our colourist Catherine Garvey. Dec Holgate stunned me with his fast turnaround of Felix's character rig, and our animators Salihah Dudha and Savanna Anderson gave us our background animations. At the time of writing this, Hatman is coming together smoothly and I am optimistic for the future. Wherever Hatman turns, I have faith in the people working to make my idea a reality. Which is good, because the only other thing I have faith in, is Keanu Reeves.