Hullabaloo: Animated steampunk action heroine seeking your support

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hullabaloo2Currently running on IndieGogo is this campaign to assist in the funding of an animated feature, Hullabaloo, which hopes to resurrect the virtually dead art of traditional, 2-D, hand-drawn animation. Even Studio Ghibli, the home of animation deity Hayao Miyazaki, seems to be heading that way, and it’s easy to understand why: it’s an astonishingly intensive process. The president of Ghibli once estimated that all his company’s resources, going full bore, could produce five minutes of feature-quality animation a month. No wonder the trend is increasingly toward CGI. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the best works of Pixar show that story and characterization are more important than medium. But the loss of cel animation takes a tool away from the storytellers, and I personally find CGI still falls short when it comes to depicting human emotions accurately.

Hullabaloo was created by James Lopez, with animation by Bruce Smith, both long-time veterans of the industry, who worked on some of Disney’s classics, including The Lion King, Tarzan and The Emperor’s New Groove. Now, they’ve gone independent, and are looking to raise money for this project – it has really taken off, with the campaign already having raised more than three times its initial goal, with almost three weeks still left. But why is it of interest here? Well, if the pic on the right hasn’t given that away, because it promises to kick the arse of most Disney – or, indeed, most animated – films, in terms of its strong heroine. Here’s the synopsis, which sounds more than slightly like Adele Blanc-Sec, in terms of atmosphere and settings:

Hullabaloo is the story of Veronica Daring, a brilliant young scientist who returns home from an elite finishing school to find her father–the eccentric inventor Jonathan Daring–missing without a trace! The only clue left behind points Veronica toward Daring Adventures, an abandoned amusement park used by her father to test his fantastical steam-powered inventions. There she discovers a strange girl named Jules, a fellow inventor who agrees to help Veronica in locating her missing father and discovering the secrets of his work.

Together, Veronica and Jules learn that Jonathan Daring has been kidnapped by a mysterious group of influential persons, who seek to use his latest invention for nefarious purposes. These villains are wealthy and influential and neither Veronica nor Jules can stop them openly. But determined to save her father and holding true to the family creed that technology should be used for the good of all, not the greed of some, Veronica assumes the secret identity of “Hullabaloo”, a goggled crusader who uses wits and science to combat evil and oppose the nefarious conspiracy that has taken her father.

Got to love a story which also appears to be pro-science, as well as intent on providing a strong female role model for kids, something which isn’t as common as it should be [and even when it appears, can end up going off the rails – see Brave for example, which started an awful lot stronger than it finished]. Yeah, latching on to the steampunk trend does perhaps seem a little too bandwagon-jumping. But if you’re going to use an “antique” style like cel animation, then it does perhaps make more sense to put it into a period setting. And, it has to be said, there hasn’t been a “true” steampunk feature released for a while: there have been some with steampunk elements e.g. Sherlock Holmes, or even the version of The Three Musketeers made by Paul W.S. Anderson. But this seems a good deal more full-on, and can only be applauded as such. Of course, there’s a long way to go from where they are now, with the quarter of a million raised a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the full feature. Hopefully, it’ll end up both getting made, and looking as cool as it has the potential to be.

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