It started with some drawings and a dream; but, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Walt Disney Family Museum hosted a talk with James Lopez on The Making of Hullabaloo, his latest animated project. James Lopez is a Disney animator who has worked on such films as The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), Hercules (1997), Emperor's New Groove (2000), Home on the Range (2004), and Princess and the Frog (2009). After being the lead animator for Doctor Facilier—along with all of the dance sequences for the film—he was looking for a new project to begin working on. He had recently been introduced to steam punk, and in a conversation with his wife, she commented, “If you could get that feeling and sense of enchantment into an animated film, I think you would have something.”
He started doing some drawings and that was the birth of Hullabaloo; but, what happened next was magical. After sharing the drawings with fellow animators, he began to envision the possibilities that could come from his start-up project. Other animators wanted to help. As he developed a short trailer to show his ideas, layout artists added a background to his work, and computer animators brought detailed 3D renderings of vehicles and gadgets that would be a hallmark of this science fictional, steampunk adventure. Then he met up with producer Evelyn Kreite, who pushed James to reach out to animation lovers in a crowd-funding campaign to fund the production of a single, short, animated film based on the characters that he had created.
They started the campaign with a goal of $80,000 in 35 days. This was a scary prospect for James and his team, but ultimately their early efforts were validated when at the end of the 35 day campaign, they had raised over $470,000 from people in 70 countries, which will allow the team to produce four short films. The first two are being concurrently produced—both are roughly 25% completed—which will allow the “locked” films to be scored by composer Manel Gil-Inglada. James is really stretching himself to learn the new technology of computer graphics. “Where do you find your place or relevance in this transition from traditional animation to a more digital application?” a guest asked. He likened it to the challenges faced by his characters going into a new age of steam-powered technology.
The talk was well attended, and James shared from his heart about all of his projects, past and present. All in attendance could tell that Hullabaloo is truly a project dear to his heart. And we are all waiting for the first of the films to appear so that we can cheer on the continuation of 2D animation as a legitimate and on-going art form.
Arthur E. Vassar is a volunteer at The Walt Disney Family Museum.