Micro studio animated feature films are the future

If you have a tiny budget today and a tiny crew and want to make a "big" film how are you going to do it?

Live action tools have gotten cheaper BUT to make a big, epic film you're going to have to do a lot of this ridiculousness
Staring into the future of live action filmmaking for epic films

I don't think any of us can do this in our basements or garages

Ok this could be a basement but whatever its ridiculous
Hollywood will eventually implode and die- so who then will make epic films?

If you look at the cost and the workflow for creating epic/fantasy/sci fi/etc cg animated films are the ideal solution-

The current vfx heavy Hollywood films rely HEAVILY on green screen compositing/tracking wherein actors become more like data sources than actors- this hurts their performances and you can't blame them- how inspiring can it be to do this?

I know that acting/filmmaking requires the use of imagination BUT once your filmmaking technique becomes counterproductive and begins to negatively effect performance +  the technical complexity of the workflows required to mix all this green screen nonsense with real actors and cg sets becomes more and more unwieldy.

When I see these films I say- why didn't they just do it all in cg? I know how the game is rigged so the producers can pay themselves shitloads of money off the top of the budgets etc- I'm coming from a position where I'm ignoring the scam that is Hollywood bookkeeping and focusing on the workflow and the end cost and complexity in making films in such a way- its NOT a sustainable method-

So if you or your microstudio wants to make your own original epic films get into the cg animation game!

Don't you want to develop and own your own properties? Instead of working on other peoples crap WHEN YOU KNOW you could do better?

I've seen it a million times before- the people with the skills actually MAKING the films have a love and appreciation for the art and craft BUT the dummy executives have no love- and their rigged game is now imploding- so why listen to them at all? OH that's right you need their connections so you can sell/market/distribute your work- well thats changing to-

Seems these days its all about GAMES GAMES GAMES- if you go all cg you can easily re-use your film assets for game creation given the appropriate workflow preparation- you can use the films to promote the games and vice versa- this is the future I'm looking at and it seems pretty awesome-

Sites like Netflix/Steam will totally supplant old world movie distributors- these new "silicon valley" based or minded businesses won't be as crony-ish/crooked as Hollywood- they won't care "who you know or who you blow" if you've got appropriate "content" in the correct format/specifications that people want they will buy/sell it-

Indie Cg filmmaking has these benefits over live action
  1. You don't have to follow any story/thematic templates- if you can get it crowd funded its a go
  2. Name actors don't matter like they do in live action- its more about the characters/story
  3. You can build sets as huge as you want- more polygons doesn't mean more money spent
  4. You can "shoot" in any location you want without permits or any other fee's
  5. You can re-use assets- models/sets/animation/fx setups
  6. The hardware and software gets better/faster and cheaper every year
  7. Animation as a medium appeals to an international audience out of the box
  8. Anything you imagine can be created and it doesn't cost any more than a mundane idea
  9. "Re-shoots" are as simple as tweaking a few keyframes
  10. You CUT OUT ALL "creative executives" and other redundant/useless people from the equation
  11. You are bringing your work straight to the audience with no middle man
  12. When you control the product you keep most all of the profits
  13. When selling your "content" yourself you can use affiliate programs to give your cast/crew real residuals so everyone will in effect "own" the film/game etc
  14. You can re-use your assets for game creation

As a final example here's the teaser trailer for my newest cg animation feature film that I've made in LESS THAN A YEAR by myself with a budget under $5000 (voice actors+Software/hardware+power bill)- its not perfect by any means, NO.

I do the best I can given my limitations as thats what filmmakers HAVE TO DO- MAKE THE BEST FILMS WE CAN GIVEN OUR LIMITATIONS not sit around lamenting because we don't have the ideal situation/tools OR sitting around online forums hating on anybody who does anything and trying to tear their work done to make yourself feel better.

Now I'm just ONE PERSON with less than $5000 and less than a years full time work- IMAGINE what lets say 20 people could do in three years time? Even part time?

So why aren't there micro-studio animated feature films with game tie-ins coming out of the woodwork?

Maybe people don't know what is POSSIBLE?

It is possible! I'm waiting for you all out there to do something AMAZING so I can watch it and be inspired!  ^_^

So lets go "filmmakers" are you going to make films or just be a poser? Are you going to make the best film you can given your limitations or just keep whining about what you can't do?

Older folk may scoff at what I say BUT I guarantee you that there are some young people out there heeding my words and seeing my examples as to what is possible and THEY are going to make some AMAZING things that we will be seeing/playing in coming years- don't let them have all the glory ^_^

The excuses don't matter- you're either making your films or you're NOT- you can keep making excuses and lying to yourself as to why you are not but come the time of the death of your physical body you'll have to face the excuse music and its not going to be pretty music.

No more excuses- gather up your will power and do the damn thing! NO its not going to be "perfect" as nothing is- thats just an excuse not to start or do it- get over it and start!

Or not- but then you'll just be left behind and forever be a poser- a wannabe- or maybe if you're lucky you'll become a critic so you can try and tear down the people that had more guts than you and actually did it.

Even if you're just one person like me there is still a bright future-

When Variety reviewed my first animated feature "We Are The Strange" at Sundance they said this
it points an arrow toward the future of personal cinema
"Personal Cinema" has a nice sound to it- the ultimate form of expression through filmmaking- no filters- one persons ultimate singular vision= PERSONAL CINEMA

All this is possible NOW so the sooner you start learning your way through the cg world the better!


  1. I agree with just about everything you've said, however I see live action a tad (very minor) bit differently.
    You're right, having a green screen film with just the actors being real is pretty counter-productive, and in most cases it is complete shit to watch (Avatar, I guess im the needle in the haystack but I hated that movie).
    But then theres other cases where its done simply because of the style. in those cases I love it completely. sin city especially, I don't think it would have turned out as great had it been all cg. 2d animated maybe...
    Also as an artist before an animator I can say that one of my favorite parts of doing stopmotion is the crafting part. since stopmotion isn't as popular as say.. the 90's, id say those in the film world who still enjoy working with their hands making sets, costumes, whatnot turn to live action and cg for that reason. those are the ones I still like to see.
    But yeah, ones where theres nothing special to the actors I agree, it may as well all be in cg.
    Pretty inspiring post as always M dot!

  2. I'm taking a class atm on Auteur theory from new wave cinema onwards and it's really interesting how microstudio animators and filmmakers like you making 'personal cinema' fit into it. Filmmakers with a personal world view will always make more powerful and interesting films in my opinion. You're kind of taking that to the next level. Ultra-personal cinema or something, where you make everything yourself and reject the idea of outsourcing work or vision.

    It's really fucking empowering man!

    I'm starting my first feature in a few months. Can't wait!

  3. @TimTheScarecrow
    I've struggled with wanting to do stop-mo vs cgi for a while now. There's a certain handmade aesthetic that's really powerful and it's virtually impossible to get that through digital means. I'm really glad dudes like you are continuing to work in that way.

  4. Check out a film called Project London http://projectlondonmovie.com/ they made a feature action sci fi film using greenscreen / compositing, and crowdsourced the visual fx with the help of blenderheads.

  5. I have seen and admired you films before. And even read and discussed 'Heart String's' feature on CGTalk. But somehow never went through this blog of yours. These words are something I had been looking for all this while. I really wonder why not more people are coming with their PERSONAL CINEMA. I have made a few short films myself. And currently working on a rather ambitious short film. They are all self funded. And now while reading your blog I realize that in near future I must aim for a feature length self distributed animated film.

    Thanks for your awesome work.

    1. Thanks! I've seen your work on that IP thread on cgtalk and I said "This looks awesome I want to see this guys movie!" ^_^ So yeh man you've got the skills and the vision- looking forward to seeing more of your work ^_^ The future is bright for indies like us- we've just gotta keep putting stuff out! I also do a podcast with another filmmaker its called the "Forever alone filmmaking podcast" we talk about making cg movies alone and interview filmmakers and stuff-

  6. Wow you've actually seen my work! That's beyond cool. Yeah I am working hard at that. And you are so right that we've just gotta keep these films out. Everything else is secondary. I checked out your latest podcast (Ep 42 I guess). Really worth checking out. Thanks!


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