Dog Park is a short hybrid live action/animated film, running at thirteen minutes with eleven minutes of 2D animation. The film is based on the book, The Man in the Dog Park, based on the experience of Cathy Small, who befriended a homeless man in her local park. He then became the co-author of the book, alongside a great friend. It’s a beautiful, powerful insight into homelessness and we were thrilled to be involved!
We were approached in the very early stages of the project by NY based Daniel Cowen, with whom we’d worked with previously. Dan was looking for a team to produce and deliver 11 minutes of animation, and was seeking full service to complete the project (scheduling, budgeting, shot lists, storyboarding, character design and development, animatic and animation). We lost little time at jumping on board!
Our approach to the project was to find a visual language for the film which felt unique, powerful but with a sensitivity which we often don’t see portrayed within the subject of homelessness. We felt it was important to deviate from common perceptions of unapproachable characters with torn clothing and dirty faces. We wanted this to feel very personal, and for our characters and locations to emanate a warmth which felt representative and authentic to the relationship between Cathy and Ross.
We took the script, and worked independently in breaking this into shots. This process involved several iterations, as we worked to accommodate budget and also translate the script into animation. As we were locking our shot breakdown, we moved into character development. We then moved into storyboarding, animatic and animation and online. We also managed scheduling and hiring for the project, from character development to delivery.
We worked closely with the very talented Dani Nunes for our character development and design. Based in Spain, Dani has a distinct aesthetic which brought a strong look to the characters. As the characters in the film are based on real people, and there was some transitions in the film to live action with these individuals – we worked from references to develop the characters.
After breaking the script into a comprehensive shot list, and refining this list based on budget and script considerations – we moved into storyboarding. Working with our in house storyboard artist, Sylvain, we boarded the 11 minutes and, then worked with renowned animatic editor Graham Silcock (Scrooge: A Christmas Carol) to create the animatic. Authenticity was important throughout the project, and all of the characters were voiced by homeless individuals, so our editing/animation process involved some back and forth to make certain this authenticity was primary focus.
For the animation we decided upon a 2D approach, which felt congruous with the story, themes and our ambitions regarding the visual aesthetic. We worked with the plugin Duik, to bring our characters and scenes to life. This gave us speed and flexibility in the process. Lead animators Kevin Smy and Sylvain Doussa led a team of internal and freelance animators in delivering over 68 shots.
During production on the film, we launched our first Diversity Placement Scheme. We bought two incredible talents on board, Ellie Bannister and Yu-Ching Chiu. We worked closely with them throughout the scheme, and they each formed an instrumental role in the film’s process. Providing real experience was an important aspect of the scheme, rather than working purely in development.
We were so pleased to be part of such an important project, and thoroughly enjoyed the team and process! In our eleven minutes of animation delivered, this included 68 shots, comprising of 42 backgrounds and 40 characters.
We really enjoyed collaborating with Dan on the film, and very much looking forward to the films wider release!
Animation by: Past Curfew
Animation Director: Allison Brownmoore
Assistant Animation Producer: Lucy Beavis
Lead Animators: Kevin Smy, Sylvain Doussa
Animators: Callum Welch, Aaron Diamond
Character Design: Dani Nunes
Prop Design: Ellie Bannister, Yu-Ching Chiu
Editor: Graham Silcock
Post Production Assistant: Amir Garmroudi
Financial Producer: Marlen Tallett