MONICA (2012)- Animated Short Film-
Creative Squirrels LLC
MONICA is the story of a young girl who mysteriously discovers she has superhuman abilities while protecting her little brother from a bully. Renowned actress Bailee Madison (BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, THE STRANGERS PREY AT NIGHT, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE GOOD WITCH) played Monica in the first of a trilogy of planned MONICA animated shorts.
This was my Masters thesis film at the Academy of Art University and the project that led me to officially form my studio Creative Squirrels LLC. I learned all facets of producing an animated film (including how to officially book SAG talent for roles and how to direct them in recording sessions.)
It was a thrilling experience from beginning to end, which took about 9 months (or an entire academic school year.)
Bailee Madison, who was 10 at the time of voice recording, had just wrapped on JUST GO WITH IT with Adam Sandler weeks earlier prior to recording MONICA. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and remains open to playing a mature Monica in the future.
My initial ambition was to make a trilogy of MONICA animated shorts that revealed deeper layers to Monica's abilities culminating in a final reveal where the true nature of her powers is shown.
I quickly realized that was too much for a 9-month production schedule at that time. While I was able to fully produce the first installment, I did record the tracks for the other two films to be made at a later time.
MONICA also featured the voices of comedians Tom Clark (COMEDY CENTRAL, THE MUPPETS, HBO) and Eric Price (MAD TV, KEY & PEELE, RENO 911), as well as newcomer Cole Perez.
Ultimately, MONICA won the First Place Prize in 2D Animation at the Academy of Art's 2012 Spring Show. The film went on to exhibit in film festivals all over the United States and Canada and streamed online briefly.
Soon after the release of MONICA, I got several lucrative offers to work on projects for clients under the Creative Squirrels mantle and that slowly took me away from completing the trilogy. Client work was paying the bills and opening doors, so I couldn't say no to any of that.
Currently, MONICA is in the archives at Creative Squirrels because I want to rerelease it alongside the other two films in the trilogy for completion's sake.
It always bugged me to see films promising a sequel that never came and I totally didn't want to frustrate anyone watching MONICA wondering what comes next because the first film ends with a reveal that teases another installment.
I've evolved so much creatively that my current work seems radically different than the original animated short film. Still, I know that I will return to play in MONICA's universe one day as this project has a special place in my heart. And when I do, I'll bring Bailee with me.