The Magical Junk-Filled World of Jiří Barta
JB: The first ideas for this story came in 1998. The first version of the script, Whose Birthday is it Today, was completed in 2000. We didn’t start pre-production on the film until January 2007. Then, everything started going very fast. Because of limited time and short deadlines, everything was developed at the same time - storyboard, design, crafting of puppets and sets. We collected a huge amount of junk and antique stuff for making sets and props. There was a small room in our rented studio where our entire crew of 10-15 people did all the work, from pre-production until the end of shooting.
In June 2007 we started to animate and shoot the film with four main animators who sometimes alternated with other colleagues. We finished shooting in September 2008. All post-production, including editing, special effects, sound and music, had to be finished at the beginning of 2009. In the end, our film had 12 main characters, close to 30 supporting characters and a big number of sets and props used in 1200 shots.
Usually, I design the characters and sets. However, the crafting is done by my skilled colleagues who work in a number of different professions. Filmmaking conditions depend on your budget. Our budget wasn’t big enough to bring on expensive professional workers and creative art shops like you can at a larger feature film studio. My team consisted of my old colleagues and friends, including my graduate students and other students from a range of Prague art schools. Toys in the Attic was a new experience for some of them. It was both a joyful and frustrating time for all of us during 15 months of shooting.
Dan Sarto is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Animation World Network.