With Japanese animation masters Studio Ghibli going through a restructuring (or whatever more pleasant sounding euphemism you want to give the massive changes they’re undergoing), traditional 2D, hand-drawn animation is in grave danger. There will always be those who steadfastly adhere to the form, but 3D and computer animation have taken control of the industry. However, a group of former DreamWorks and Disney artists are doing their damndest to stave off extinction, and they could use your help.
A group plans to hand draw a feature-length motion picture—something no studios are going to do anytime soon—a steampunk adventure called Hullabaloo, and they’ve established a Kickstarter campaign to help raise some of the funds. At the moment they’re attempting to raise $80,000, which, if you think that sounds cheap for an entire movie, you’d be right, because that’s just what they need to create a “proof of concept” short that they can then shop around. The real thing will cost way, way more than that.
Hullabaloo tells the story of young female scientist named Veronica Daring, which is a fantastic name for a tale like this. In the Victorian era, she assumes a secret, crime fighting identity—Hullabaloo—and must track down her inventor father after nefarious forces kidnap him. This all sounds like a damn fine time to us.
James Lopez is the driving force behind this project. Though you may not know him by name, you certainly know his work, as he is one of the animators who worked on Timon in The Lion King, and lent his talents to Disney’s last hand-drawn style film, The Princess and the Frog, where he helped bring Dr. Facilier to life. As animation is not a solitary pursuit, he is not even close to alone in this venture. The Proud Family creator Bruce Smith; Rick Farmiloe, who worked on Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin; and Minkyu Lee, who has worked on the likes of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, are also all on board this crazy train.
Watch their Kickstarter video below:
Given the current trajectory of studio animation, independent approaches similar to this are likely the future of the hand-drawn side of the spectrum. As long as there are people passionate about it, it will never truly go away. We’ve seen recent notable efforts like The Congress, The Wind Rises, and Ernest and Celestine, not to mention stop motion animation offerings like Laika’s ParaNorman and the upcoming Box Trolls. However, it is definitely becoming a marginalized, niche market.
It’s easy to draw parallels between animation and the film industry as a whole. The industry is almost entirely abandoning actual film in favor of digital, and though there are still some clinging to the medium, those who steadfastly refuse to go digital, they’re in the vast minority. This is not even considering the decline of practical special effects in the movies themselves and physical media quickly becoming a thing of past.
People still collect vinyl records and VHS tapes, and like in those realms, there will always be some obsessives who refuse to relinquish their preferred medium (I prefer records to CDs or digital files, but I admittedly got sick of lugging milk crate after milk crate of heavy ass vinyl from house to house). But if there is to be a future, it will definitely reside outside of the mainstream.