One of John Lasseter‘s first orders of business when he took over Walt Disney Animation was to try and resurrect good old-fashioned hand-drawn animation with the musical The Princess and the Frog. The attempt wasn’t the coup that Lasseter and Disney hoped, but that doesn’t mean that those involved have given up on the art form. Quite the opposite in fact. A new Indiegogo campaign started by a veteran Disney animator wants to set up a new hand-crafted animated flick, and as an added nerdy bonus, it is set in a Steampunk world and tells a superhero-like story of a determined young woman out to stop inscrutable bad guys from controlling the world with advanced steam-powered technology.
Called Hullabaloo (great name by the way), the project is the brainchild of James Lopez, who was a lead character animator on The Lion King, Hercules and The Princess and the Frog. Joined by an impressive roster of other Disney animators including Bruce Smith, Rick Farmiloe, Minkyu Lee, Sandro Cleuzo and Sarah Airriess, Lopez hopes to prove that the art form he’s spent a life time working on is far from dead, and he aims to innovate the heck out of it with this very ambitious project.
Here’s Lopez’s statement on why 2-D animation should be save:
2D animation is the heart and soul of all animation. 2D created the animation industry, and without it modern computer-generated animation simply would not exist. And 2D animation is a truly American art form. 2D animation is capable of conveying a truly incredible level of emotion and feeling. It is beautiful and and it is important.
Unfortunately, the film industry has developed the misconception that 2D animation is a dead art form that should be neither preserved nor perpetuated. We believe that they are wrong, and by joining us you can help us prove that people still love and want 2D animation.
And here’s the plot synopsis for Hullabaloo:
Hullabaloo is the story of Veronica Daring, a brilliant young scientist who returns home from an elite finishing school to find her father–the eccentric inventor Jonathan Daring–missing without a trace! The only clue left behind points Veronica toward Daring Adventures, an abandoned amusement park used by her father to test his fantastical steam-powered inventions. There she discovers a strange girl named Jules, a fellow inventor who agrees to help Veronica in locating her missing father and discovering the secrets of his work.
Together, Veronica and Jules learn that Jonathan Daring has been kidnapped by a mysterious group of influential persons, who seek to use his latest invention for nefarious purposes. These villains are wealthy and influential and neither Veronica nor Jules can stop them openly. But determined to save her father and holding true to the family creed that technology should be used for the good of all, not the greed of some, Veronica assumes the secret identity of “Hullabaloo”, a goggled crusader who uses wits and science to combat evil and oppose the nefarious conspiracy that has taken her father.
Seriously, this sounds like something I want to see RIGHT. NOW. The only other attempt I can think of to do anything resembling Steampunk in North American animation is Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The story wasn’t great, but the production design (which was led by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola) was amazing. Sadly though, it came at a time when Disney Animation was struggling with identity issues, trying to preserve its hand-drawn animation practice while trying to develop more computer-based animation options. Atlantis, as a result, felt like a clash between resources and ambition.
If this sounds like something your interested in supporting, you can still donate to the IndieGoGo. Even though they covered their goal in just a couple of days of the campaign being opened, every little bit helps if only to show the Powers that Be that there’s a lot of interest in seeing this movie happen.