The Animator’s Journey
Artists in general know all too well the deep internal emotional and psychological strife of having universes full of stories locked within our minds, calling out and struggling to get out. This is one of the reasons why many of us go into areas like animation as a possible conduct to eventually help us push forward at least one of the narratives in the bubbling cauldron of our minds and souls and once out, possibly appease those fires for a little while.
But the process of visual narrative is at best a difficult one, more often than not a night impossible challenge to overcome. Yet every now and then devoted artists such as Kirby Atkins push through the current and achieve their ambition.
Director Kirby Atkins released Mosley on New Zealand on Oct 10 2019, a 3D animated feature produced by Huhu studios in cooperation with China Film Animation making it the first New Zealand animated film.
The films narrative is anything but happy fun time, it is a mixture of fantastical adventure with serious social tones. The story about Mosley a fantasy creature called a thoriphant who is, along with others of his race forced to work as slaves for humans in their farms, until one day his daughter finds a cave that depict other thoriphants who stand erect and have hands; through a series of events Mosley escapes and goes in search for these mystical thoriphants in hopes they may aid him and his family in becoming free.
Atkins has been working on this film for 20 years, writing and storyboarding the film since 1997; In an interview he provided some insights into the challenges he faced along the way many of which were psychological as a productions with limited financial resources often need to make compromises in order for production to move forward; Atkins has stated he would have wished for certain things like lighting to be better but due to costs he had to make due.
The idea of past failed enterprises was clear in his mind, films like [Richard Williams’s] The Thief and the Cobbler had been in production hell for decades and despite all attempts and the faithful diligence and hard work of everyone involved, such movies succumbed to box office failure; still he was soldiered on.
After a failed attempt to get the film done in Spain, the death of Pres Romanillos forced him to look for other venues of production and New Zealand opened their doors to him.
The film lasted 3 years in production in New Zealand and 5 in China with a limited budget and compromises in quality Kirby hopes that the story itself will make up for some of its visual shortcomings, however the biggest challenge is promotion which may be surpassed if the film’s reception is positive.
Since its release the film has received in average positive reviews, though it does not yet have a score in rotten tomatoes it has an IMBD rating of 8.2 stars and it is currently nominated for “Best animated feature” in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.