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The US independent artist moves from the pitch-perfect black comedy of depression in Rocks in My Pockets to a new feature animated project.

 signe-baumaneThere are many indie voices in US animation, and Signe Baumane is certainly one of the most instantly recognizable.

Carrying her European sensitivity towards exploration of the past along a quirky "adult" attitude for things that matter (and better not left unspoken), she manages to infuse new light (and voice) to worn-out topics.

At least, this is what she did in the widely acclaimed Rocks in My Pockets [view our film review], a funny story about depression back in the European past.

Her new project, the 95-minute-My Love Affair with Marriage, follows an autobiographical route based on her own two marriages, and was recently presented (June 2020) at Annecy Festival as a Work in Progress.

This animated feature film delivers a punchy tale of love, gender and marriage. Zelma, a fiery young woman with wild imagination, journeys through many marriages, some real, some imaginary, while confronting societal pressures and her own biology. It is  personal story of Love, Gender and Marriage infused with songs of Mythology Sirens as well as the Neuroscience of falling in and out of love. Film Synopsis

The project started in 2015 ("a whole different world', Signe Baumane states). It  is a US/Latvian/Luxembourgian co-production: New York company The Marriage Project LLC, (Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner) is in the overall charge of the project; Locomotive Productions (Roberts Vinovskis, Riga) is responsible for the post-production stage -recording the music and songs, coloring and compositing the images, animating parts of the film. In June 2020, Antevita Films (Luxembourg) joined the project, and will supervise the audio side of the project plus the final 5.1 Dolby Stereo mix.

Production-wise, My Love Affair with Marriage budget is 1m USD; this is a much bigger amount than the one the successful Rocks in My Pockets (300,000 USD) had. But Signe Baumane still tells that if you start thinking about all the difficulties beforehand, you will never make the film you had in your mind in the first place.

ZIppy Frames Sneak Preview (Annecy 2020 Video Preview):

Signe Baumane has a confirmed talent in narrating dramas (not just stories) visually. What the preview shows is how she manages in addition to orchestrate characters, settings and the personal with the political, the private with the public; also the spoken with the singing. It is indeed a big gamble to tell a multi-character story of a woman trying to find the roots of our idea of marriage; yet, somehow, all threads are seamlessly connected in the preview watched -not missing a beat.

Here's an earlier work-in-progress teaser:

24 script drafts were made for My Love Affair with Marriage, but there were no storyboards. Vocal tracks were used to create the film's animatic. Dagmara Dominczyk voices Zelma; Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Short Cuts) is on board to voice Mo, whereas the film will have 26 speaking and 3 singing characters.

Here comes the belcanto sensitivity of the Italian composer Kristian Sensini (who also scored Rocks in my Pockets) to find the right mix for the Mythology Sirens of everlasting love tune. As Signe Baumane notes, Kristian Sensini "tells the story through the music". There are 23 songs in the film sung by the 3 Mythology Sirens; these tend to make Zelma conform to the norms expected of women towards marriage.

Another video on the origins of the film, where two layers -the mythological genealogy of love and marriage, and the contemporary semi-autobiographical facts- are revealed:

As Signe Baumane says, "a string of facts doesn't tell a story".  Even if the autobiographical element is strong,  there are no detective details to be found - and there's no need to be. You need to dramatize, exaggerate, make characters sympathetic -can't stick to the facts. "I like to make a more stylized version of reality", she defiantly exclaims.

Hand-made wood sets (built by Sturgis Warner, who also acts as a casting director) add to the period feel of the film, which gets its inspiration (among others) from the Soviet Latvian times. Signe Baumane animates on paper ("it's an extension of my hand", she mentions); drawing are scanned and  combined digitally with photographed backgrounds. Stop-motion sequences are also included in the film. The tested scenes are colored in Photoshop and composited in After Effects, all leading to a purposely "imperfect human structure".

As of June 2020, 25 minutes of the film are still to be animated.

Here's Signe Baumane on a studio tour during the COVID-19 period:

The film has been successfully funded with the sum of $132,773 via  a dedicated Kickstarter campaign page, and other funds.

Film release is scheduled for early 2021.

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