Pre-Production Update #4: Searcher 5

Welcome to the second phase of pre-production! Or, more accurately, phase 1.5. I had planned to start storyboarding last week, until I remembered that I hadn’t locked down the design for Searcher 5, the Seeker’s space shuttle.

Searcher 5001

That’s the ship design from 2008. And yes, it is pretty awful, isn’t it? Turns out that sci-fi vehicle design isn’t really my forte, so I’ve got a massive amount of respect for designers that specialize in that area.

Searcher5002 Searcher5003

Here’s the final look. I approached the ship from the stand point that it should feel like a mix between a pickup truck and an RV, something that’s only really meant to transport 1 to 2 people. Also, just now I’m realizing that it’s a little reminiscent of “Wall-E,” which is fine, because that’s a spectacular film.

Now that Searcher 5 is on paper, I can start storyboarding tomorrow 🙂



Q&A #1

In the first of what will hopefully be a monthly event, this post is dedicated to answering questions submitted on our Facebook page. And now, after that unnecessary segue…

When will we be seeing a collective storyboard for your screen play Jupiter IX?

Unfortunately, if you were to see the whole storyboard, the entire short would be spoiled for you, so that’s not going to happen, mostly because I love you too much. However, I will be sharing a handful of the boards with you in March to demonstrate how I plan my shots and to give you little glimpses into the unfolding story.

What’s your timeline looking like? When can we expect to see the production start on this film?

Pre-production will be completed  by April 15th (fingers and toes crossed). This includes character and set design, storyboarding, creation of a budget and schedule, and a temp-tracked animatic. At this point, I will begin puppet construction. As for production, that will rest entirely on the success of our coming Kickstarter campaign. If successful, we can begin shooting in late June/July. If unsuccessful, things will take longer, because we’ll only be able to produce what we can as money slowly becomes available. So, start saving your nickles to finance our film in the summer 🙂

It seems like the developmental design is taking a while are you currently working on other projects at the same time?

Why yes, yes I am.

Wait… you want details? Okay!

Since updates on this site have begun, I’ve continued to expand the website, I’ve written the first draft of what will be 17 Presidents Productions’ second short film, and have been working on the outline for a feature script.

This is a independant stop-motion animation project you are making, so how would one be able to recieve a copy of this feature post production?

Good question. The easiest way to receive a copy of the finished film will be to become a backer of our eventual Kickstarter campaign. The DVD will contain much of the behind-the-scenes material from our updates, as well as much more (including the collective storyboard requested in the first question).

Will Luke fire everyone if this isn’t the best project ever?

Maybe not the best project ever. But if “Jupiter IX” isn’t artistically successful, I can guarantee that Luke (17 Presidents’ resident producer) will fire everyone except me.

That wraps up the Q&A. Thanks for the great questions, and if you didn’t like the questions, make sure to ask your own within the next month.

For those of you still hanging with us, I’d like to show you my gratitude by sharing my failures. Below are some of the character design choices that were just wrong:

The Seeker002

The Seeker004



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Pre-Production Update #3: Character Design 3

In this update, we’re getting down to the meat of the film- our hero. Referred to in the script simply as “The Seeker,” JIX’s star fits firmly in tradition as a man with no name, quietly seeing to his business as he pilots the spaceship Searcher 5 on a mission of vengeance.

It’s been several years since I jotted down the first sketches of The Seeker, so I can’t be 100%, but I’m pretty sure it came to me pretty quickly.

The Seeker001

In contrast to Serento’s suit, The Seeker’s is less flashy. It’s worn, and closer to a look that we’re familiar with, which is an indication that it’s old and out of date.

The Seeker003

In this sketch, I just did a little refinement to the space suit from the first thumbnails. I was happy with the overall execution, but something still didn’t quite gel for me: the face. Sure, he’s got the steely determination and world-weariness I needed, but something was definitely missing. So, over the last week, I thought about and worked on the problem…

The Seeker005

… and this is what I ended up with. The key breakthrough for me was changing my figure of inspiration from an admittedly generic Clint Eastwood type to the actor John Hawkes. This design shift gave me two things: one, I’m drawn more so to animated characters with exaggerated profiles (and the vulture-like nose and hollowed cheeks definitely give me that), and two, Hawkes is an actor that bleeds vulnerability even when he’s at his most menacing. As a final touch, I added the large scars across the face, tipping my hat to a past confrontation that The Seeker may have had with the monstrous Serento.

Now that the characters are all designed, I’ll be moving into two new phases in the coming weeks: story boarding the film and creating color profiles for each character. Of course, you’ll be front and center for each new development.