Today’s Spotlight comes to us from Florida in the form of a film called Mike and Wayne about two guys who attempt to rob a liquor store to no avail. It’s well animated, well designed and it’s choice of palette colors is particularly refreshing.
AI: So let’s start out by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you’ve come from to get you to this make this film.
Esteban: Hey! My name is Esteban Valdez, I’m the Founder of Echo Bridge Pictures and we’re an animation production company based in St Petersburg, Fla. and since our start we’ve worked on some incredibly high profile projects and respected names in the business like FOX, FXX, CBBeeies, UMG and Edelman. We’re focused on 2D production for music videos, commercials, corporate and educational videos, short and feature films, documentaries and episodic shows for television and the web.
I started back in 2000 working at small shops in and around Boston, MA. In late 2010 I planted some roots in St Pete and founded the studio. Since then Echo Bridge has grown to be an artist driven studio where we work pretty damn hard everyday to do what many other people thought was only possible in LA and NYC.
AI: Some good credits! So tell us what “Mike and Wayne” is about and who are these little blue guys?
Esteban: It’s about these two dumbasses named Mike & Wayne. They’re the titular characters of our new short film who are not the sharpest knives in the proverbial drawer. Their mission is simple: get rich quick by robbin’ and stealin’. Their target: the local liquor store. What our fearless (anti)heroes don’t know is that the Cornah Store has the best defenses imagination can provide. Follow Mike & Wayne as they strive to make their dreams come true and are met with spectacular failure. All for your enjoyment.
AI: Sounds like an interesting concept. I particularly liked the style and your choice of color. The backgrounds are beautiful too!
Esteban: Thanks! Well, a lot of the inspiration came from indie comics and zines and when it came to color I felt it only best to keep with that feel. What was challenging about it too was that it’s both easy to see mistakes cause there’s no place to hide those mishaps and the work can also disappear if the values aren’t probably separated. And with everything packed with detail as it is it pushed us artistically.
Maybe we’re just artistic masochists because we’re always looking to do something we haven’t done and that challenges us. We don’t do easy around these parts.
AI: So how did the idea for the film come about?
Esteban: The idea had been swimming around in my head/sketchbook for a few years, mostly inspired by the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons and the styling of Daniel Clowes and Robert Crumb. To make something simple and in your face without having to be so overly developed and processed… I like to think of Mike & Wayne as a punk rock tune. Edgy, fast paced, no bullshit, and raw. And much like punk, it wasn’t about satisfying others it’s about making something that we liked, that made us laugh. Art’s so subjective and if you’re trying to please every demographic you’re going to end up with something you don’t enjoy looking at or love doing.
AI: Who worked on the film?
Esteban: I wrote the original premise and provided art and animation direction, however for this project we really took a different approach than we normally do on client work. We got everyone together and pitched ideas around for scenarios. The ideas that made us laugh the most is what made it into the film so all in all there’s a little bit of each of us throughout the film. When it came to the audio portion that was done mostly by my good friend and former band mate, Mark Mniece. He and I had some serious back and forth trying to get things just right. Then Mark did what he did best and mixed us his best work on that track.
AI: What technology was used in it’s creation?
Esteban: We used Storyboard Pro 4 for storyboards and animatics, Flash CS5 for preproduction and production, Premiere CS5 for post, Reason and ProTools for audio production using a Fender Highway One Bass, Gibson SG Guitar through an Apogee Ensemble and Korg Keyboard for additional instruments. All our planning, coordinating, scheduling, tracking and file management was done through Basecamp and all things finance wise was handled via Quickbooks by myself and our accountant.
AI: How was it funded?
Esteban: The film was financed by the studio (Echo Bridge). It was expensive, but the end result is something we’re all really happy with.
AI: What is the end result for the film as in will you put it in festivals or was it just a personal piece you did for fun?
Esteban: The short film has been submitted to roughly 20 festivals worldwide and we’re really hoping it does well. In the meantime the next 5 episodes are already in preproduction, and we’ve recently signed on with the Channel Frederator Network to produce a 12 episode season of Mike & Wayne. A couple of broadcast networks have also shown high interest in Mike & Wayne, but we feel that the nature of the project is best suited for the net.
We’re really working hard to make sure that each cartoon is constantly raising the bar, getting crazier and out there. So far, the reviews we’ve been getting from people we’ve shown this too has been nothing short of awesome and we’re really pumped to be producing something of our own.