This short film is reminiscent in it savagery and animation style to that of the magazine Heavy Metal. The rotoscope style brings to mind that of the Heavy Metal animated feature and the many works from Ralph Bakshi.
Accompanied by a chilling soundtrack, the film takes you from a raw furry of violence and bloodshed to the desolate pensiveness that the main character is confronted with in the end.
The film left me with a satisfied emptiness and many questions. I look forward to Gorgonaut’s next feature!
*WARNING: Extreme Violence in a graphic nature*
“A group of warriors confront that which stands between them and the power to save their people in this rotoscoped animated fantasy short created by Morgan Galen King’s Gorgonaut studios. Starring Jon Tomlinson, and featuring music by Strand of Oaks, Ice Dragon, and Jonn Ollsin.”
I caught up to the creator, Morgan King, to talk more about his film company and projects.
Can you give us the history of how Gorgonaut.net got started?
MK: I did a fair amount of film work in college, but after school I spent the next decade mostly doing graphic design for musicians and running a small record label. It was a labor of love, but after a long stint of that, I was eager to work on a project of my own creation. I had always been interested in diving into animation. I started Gorgonaut in early 2011 mostly as a way to create projects to teach myself. Since then, I’ve been able to work alongside some really talented people which has just been incredible!
MK: I know that, at least in animation circles, rotoscoping has a divisive reputation but I have always loved it. I grew up at just the right time to be exposed to animation that relied heavily on rotoscoping. I must have watched Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 Lord of the Rings dozens of times as a child, and then Heavy Metal and Fire and Ice when I got a little older. Even He-Man used a little bit of rotoscoping here and there! I find that, for me, rotoscoping hits the perfect balance between the utterly fantastical world of cartooning and the plausibly realistic physicality of live action. That relationship between humans, presented in a way we recognize them, and an imagined world, presented in a way that we don’t, is mirrored in the kind of fantasy worlds I really love. That, and nobody was really making rotoscoped fantasy animation any more. I realized if I ever wanted to see more of it, I was probably going to have to make it myself.
How was this story created? What was the message you wanted to convey?
MK: In our previous animated short, Mongrel and The Wrath of the Ape King, we were essentially creating a proof of concept to see if we could do rotoscoped animation with no budget, so the story was fairly threadbare. When we began work on what would become Exordium, I really wanted to try to tackle some of the things I was thinking about in my life. I thought about what kind of message I would have wanted my 13 year old self to have taken away from Heavy Metal in addition to ‘this is the coolest thing I have ever seen,’ at least. There’s a lot of ambiguous themes in Exordium, but I think the core of it is about choosing to find individual meaning in our very short lives, even in the face of a vast and indifferent universe. It all came together quickly after my brother evoked the image of the last two warriors of a battle standing in a vast field of the fallen dead.
What are some of the challenges in created films like this?
MK: As could probably be said of any animated project with a very small crew, the time and labor that go into drawing this many frames is very daunting. Coming from a graphic design background helped quite a bit, just in terms of being really comfortable with some of Photoshop’s deeper features – I could never have done this without having a handle on using it’s ability to record complex Action macros.
What kind of feedback have you received (if any) regarding the violence?
MK: I thought there might be some resistance to it, but I haven’t heard much about it, either way. I love horror movies and there can be a ghoulish joy that comes with over-the-top ultra-violence, but I wanted to touch on the point about how we’re willing to make horrible sacrifices for a cause without really understanding the larger picture that might exist behind that cause.
Do you feel that short films like this get enough recognition?
MK: While short films, in general, used to only really be appreciated by a select audience, the move towards digital streaming video has helped make shorter films more accessible to a much wider audience than was possible a decade ago. There is a bit of a lingering sense that a film has to be at least 88 minutes to be legitimate, but I think we’re moving towards a time where the final runtime has less to do with how films are recognized.
What advice would you give first time film makers when creating such a film?
MK: You can create a pretty awesome fantasy world even if you don’t have a huge budget. While that’s true of all animation, if you want to make something that’s somewhat more akin to live action film, with rotoscoping you can shoot in your living room – even with a webcam – and turn it into any location you can imagine. The possibilities are limitless – I feel like I’ve only begun to really explore what can be done with the style, and I very much hope others out there will view it as a potential way to make fantasy worlds of their own. If they do, I know I’d love to see them.
Steve “Rifflo” Fitch – Legendarium News Director
Steve, also known as “Rifflo”, is a University MBA Administrator in Ontario Canada where he lives with his wife, Lisa and two young daughters, Alexa and Ava. Steve has an extensive background in corporate sales. Steve also worked for ISAF: International Security Assistance Force and the Canadian Military as a recruiter in Human Resources for the operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan. When not immersed in Tolkien works,sci-fi, and film, you can find him training in Muay Thai, Italian rapier, German longsword, and Mixed Martial Arts. Follow Steve on Twitter @HobbitSteve