Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Animated Thoughts: Art comes in many forms

It was tax time and my accountant works an hour away in Grand Rapids. So it was time for my yearly pilgrimge to see the butterflies at the Frederik Meijer Gardens... oh, I mean drop off my taxes binder to my accountant--then go back and sign documents, submit paperwork, and pick up the binder. Yeah, you won't find any real substance or epiphanies in this post, just a bunch of photographs that I took during a period of the year where it's a lot of busywork and maintenance to keep my LLC going and not much else. Fortunately for me, there are opportunites to appreciate some (natural) art, if you're willing to look for them.


Hey, this isn't sugar water, it's vodka!


Postman (Heliconius melpomene aglaope)


Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius)




Postman (Heliconius melpomene plesseni)

Postman (Heliconius melpomene aglaope)

Was taking a picture and this butterfly stopped by to say 'hi'.


Common Morpho (Morpho peleides)



Blue and White Longwing (Heliconius cydno)

Tropical Ginger (circuma)

Well worth a visit... or two.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Animated Thoughts: My Love Affair with Marriage

Well, I saw My Love Affair With Marriage at the Flint Institute of Art. Having done promotional work on both of Signe's features, it's a real rush to sit in the theater and see the final product--even moreso to see your name in the credits as one of the financial backers of the film. And I have to say it was a very enjoyable movie, but more than that, it was very thought provoking. Given the litany of "advice" family and friends have given me about marriage over my lifetime, I spent more than a little time pondering issues raised by the movie on the drive home. 

Though one initial question that crossed my mind as I walked out of the theater was related to how Signe puts a lot of herself into her films. In her animated short the Dentist, Signe drew upon her experiences having some dental surgery in order to create a spine-tingling film. In Birth, she drew upon her experience of becoming a new mother and how advice given isn't always as helpful as one would hope. In watching My Love Affair With Marriage, I do have to wonder how many of the situations Zelma found herself in were drawn from Signe's own life experiences... or drawn from experiences related to her by family and friends?

For me though, My Love Affair With Marriage raised some very interesting (uncomforable?) situations as it confronted the stories we are told about marriage. For example: how you are not a complete person without someone there to complete you. Or how we over-romanticize marriage and childrearing while ignoring the realities of said experiences. Now I'm not anti-marriage or anti-children, far from it. I'm a big supporter of both if for no other reason than how families can add stability to society and children provide for society's longevity. But oftentimes, being married and having children is portrayed in culture as the be-all and end-all of the human experience and your existence is empty and meaningless if you're single--a concept that I've been striving against for the better part of my life.

The very real question that I've been pondering lately is: is the desire to get married something that you want for yourself or do you only feel that desire because it's "expected" of you?

And that's where I found myself as I watched Zelma's trials and tribulations as she wandered through life as a single woman then life as a married woman. Throughout this film, Signe asked the questions and confronted the sacred cows of marriage and the decision to have a child (or not) in a very entertaining fashion--but without fully answering them, always leaving room for speculation based upon your personal experiences.

As always, Signe does a masterful work of weaving the triumphs and failures of the human experience into very interesting and engaging characters who leave you wanting more. Despite all the difficulties she faced through childhood, adolescence, and finally adulthood, the film struck this hopeful tone as Zelma walked a path towards finding peace in her relationships. As Zelma grew, I wondered if maybe she would realize that she doesn't "have" to be married in order to live a life filled with meaning and purpose--a realization that many of us single people look for: that particular moment of clarity when you really start living and enjoying your life in the moment instead of chasing after some highly-romanticized vision of the future that society says you must have. Or maybe marriage "was" the key to happiness for Zelma after all, once she finds the right person with whom she can share the rollercoaster of life. Maybe her personal happiness could only be found in sharing her life with another person and it would take her a series of failed relationships to finally grow into the person she needed to be in order to share her life with someone else? I'll leave it up to you readers to watch the film for yourselves and see how the story ends for Zelma... or maybe doesn't end as perhaps every apparent end for Zelma is just the beginning of another chapter in her story (including the ones we don't get to see). Regardless, after the movie ended, I did have the feeling that it would be nice to check in with Zelma in about five or ten years and see how life turned out for her. For by the end of the film, Zelma felt like less of a character in a story and more like a friend or a family member who you only saw every couple of years but pick the friendship right back up where you left off. 

As one of the Crowdfunding backers, I'm really looking forward to receiving my copy of the film and watching it again since I not only enjoyed the story but I also really enjoyed the visuals in this movie. I was very drawn to the segments where the neuron narrator "Biology" (expertly voice acted by Michele Pawk) ran us through these mini documentaries detailing how the brain matures and processes emotions through biochemical networks before the film went back to Zelma's external story. Then there were the many examples of Signe's "digital setback camera" process--a digital evolution of Max Fleischer's setback camera setup that I wouldn't mind trying myself someday.

Signe continues to push the bar on her personal work as My Love Affair With Marriage added a large number of musical numbers to the feature. And while this film is drawn in her own signature visual style, you can see Signe pushing her drawing and animating skills forward and improving in both the 2d rendering of her human characters as well as the more abstract figures she presented in the neurological characters and processes seen in the microscopic brain sequences.

All-in-all, Signe has added another interesting and entertaining film to the growing pantheon of adult-oriented animated features and is well worth a look, whether you want to be inspired or if you just want to be entertained. Given how approachable and relatable this film was to my own experiences with interpersonal relationships, I can't wait to see what concepts Signe decides to tackle for her next feature.

If you'd like to know more about Signe's process, I highly recommend watching the following presentation she gave at the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor screening of her film. Additionally, she's got some wonderful  production process pages on her website: https://www.myloveaffairwithmarriagemovie.com/ where she covers the setwork, animation, and also shows some presentation and interview videos--great stuff for the aspiring animator. Embedded below is the Penny Stamps lecture series video from University of Michigan.

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* Images used in this blog post are provided by Signe's website/press/presskit and are copyright Signe Baumane

Friday, February 2, 2024

Animated Events: My Love Affair with Marriage

Signe Baumane's latest feature film My Love Affair With Marriage is here in Michigan.

If you'd like to see this film, the next screening will be in Flint, MI at the Flint Institute of Arts.

Screenings are:

  • Friday, Feb 16 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb 17 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb 18 at 2:00 p.m.

You can purchase tickets online at: https://flintarts.org/events/films.

And you can learn more about My Love Affair With Marriage at the film's website: https://www.myloveaffairwithmarriagemovie.com/.

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