Hello to all the fans of Signe Baumane and her animation! I'm John H., her office manager and she's asked me to help her update her blog once (or maybe twice) a week while she's in production on "My Love Affair With Marriage". I'm sure she'll still post on this blog when she can, but her main focus right now is to keep animating her new feature so that it can be completed in a relatively timely manner.
That's partly how I came to work for Signe, though we've known each other for over 20 years. We worked together for Bill Plympton for several years, with Signe on the production tasks like painting cels and helping to shoot the animation, and me taking care of the office work, like dealing with film festivals, accounting, e-mail and other day-to-day tasks. A little over two years ago Signe called me up and asked me to come in for a day and do some consulting. I was only working part-time then, three days a week since one of my two part-time gigs had folded up shop.
So I went to visit Signe in her studio in Sunset Park, Brooklyn - she told me that she was planning to start production on her second feature, but she was concerned because her day tended to fill up doing a lot of other tasks, leaving little time for animation. So I asked her what these tasks were - answering e-mail, dealing with festivals, accounting - and it started to sound really familiar. I've done all of those things as an office manager, so I suggested that she get herself an office manager. "Great idea!" she said, "But I can't afford an office manager." So, why not get a part-time office manager - and that's when I realized that I was an office manager, and I was available part-time, so it just sort of made sense.
It could be just like the 1990's all over again, I figured, with Signe on production and me taking care of the paperwork - though now we're in the digital age of filmmaking and I'd have to learn some new things, like how to send files with new-fangled things like FTP and WeTransfer and Dropbox. But things like payroll and accounting are still the same, no matter where you go, so I volunteered to get involved on her new, independent animated production, "My Love Affair With Marriage".
My first task on the production end of things was to copyright the script in October 2015, which at the time was just called "The Marriage Project" and it was not much more than a rough treatment then, without dialogue. In January 2016 I started re-typing it all with the help of screenwriting software into the proper format, while Signe was writing dialogue for the characters, so that each time we made a new draft, there was more dialogue to add, replacing the story beats in the treatment. By June of 2016 we were on the 20th draft and the script was essentially completed and ready to be copyrighted again.
By then it was also time to apply for some grants, like the NEA Grant, the Sloan/Tribeca Fund and the U.S. Artists Fellowship. And while we were unsuccessful in getting funding from those sources, the project had received funding from Women Make Movies and NYSCA, so there was paperwork to be done in order to give those organizations reports on how their funding was being spent.
By the time January 2017 rolled around, Signe and Sturgis had begun the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the production of "My Love Affair With Marriage", and I helped however I could, whether it was spreading the word on social media or just watching the pledges coming in, and trying to reassure them that the campaign was going to succeed. Once it did, I began packaging and addressing the rewards that we could fulfill right away, while making notes about the ones that we'd have to send out later on.
Next time I'll bring you up to speed on all that's happened since the Kickstarter campaign, which is recording all of the actors, completing the soundtrack, building the sets and starting the animation. Catch you then!