The short animation ‘I Have Your Heart’ is collaboration between New York illustrator Molly Crabapple, international rockstar Kim Boekbinder, and Melbourne animator Jim Batt.
The film is the story of a good girl with a bad heart, and the boy whose death will save her life. Told through darkly whimsical stopmotion, the film was inspired by Kim Boekbinder’s rollicking, accordion sing‐a‐long song about love, loss, and open‐heart surgery – ‘The Organ Donor’s March’.
Making this film was a long and detailed process. The characters and scene elements were hand drawn by Molly Crabapple, then scanned and photoshopped into layouts for moveable puppets, props, and scenery. These were printed on a thick paper stock, cut out by hand, and crafted into freestanding characters and sets. This paper world was then brought to life frame by frame with stopmotion animation by Jim Batt, using a trusty Canon 7D and Dragonframe software. Kim Boekbinder created an extended version of her song ‘The Organ Donor’s March’ to score the finished film.
Here is our interview with the unique trio behind this special clip:
Jim: Through twitter, actually. Molly and Kim were already frequent collaborators, and when they came up with the idea of doing an animation they asked the wide world of twitter if any animators were interested. Half way around the world, I saw that tweet and put my hand up for the job. I showed them one of my previous animations, Monkey & Sardine, which convinced them I not only had the skills but was also crazy enough for the task at hand. We all had very complimentary narrative and aesthetic tastes, and so the creative powerhouse of Crabapple, Boekbinder & Batt was born! In fact Kim and I got along so well, that our collaboration quickly grew into a wonderful romance, that continues happily, despite the rather extensive amount of ocean between our respective continents…
What was the inspiration for the story?
Kim: The idea for the song came from a story I had heard about a teenage girl who received a donor heart from a boy who was killed in a gang fight. I was struck by how this young girl felt so much pressure to have a really good life ‐ that in order to deserve another person’s heart, she had to be good enough for two people. In the song I added a little bit of romance between the girl and this boy that she has never met. She feels his heart beat every day and thinks of him as a separate entity inside herself.
Jim: We took the story of the song as the starting point for the script, and in the process of bringing it into the world of Molly’s illustration style, it took on a life of it’s own. One with more swashbuckling pirate cats, for a start.
Molly: I spend my time drawing two dimensional images, and I wanted to see all my little characters jump around. And holy damn, Jim could make them move!
Molly: For someone who has never done an animation before, the sheer quantity of drawing was mad. I drew massive cityscapes, character turnarounds, and sheets and sheets of boards, ivy and rope. Luckily, Jim and Kim are quite adept whipcrackers!
Jim: It starts with Molly drawing all the characters and background elements. These drawings where then pulled apart in photoshop and used to create layouts and textures for all of the buildings and props. Everything was then printed out on a thick paper stock and painstakingly cut out by hand and assembled into a paper world, in kind of ‘2.5D’. All built with lots foam core, double sided tape and glue sticks. Replacement animation techniques were used for the characters expressions, switching in different heads for each frame of the expression. The handkerchief was done in a similar way, to create the fluid floating feeling of cloth in a breeze. Once the film was shot, the only postproduction was a bit of rig removal and clean up, with some digital set extensions on the backgrounds of a couple of shots.
Jim: There are quite a few established stopmotion animators here, such as the amazing Anthony Lucas whose beautiful work has always been a big inspiration, and the Oscar-winning Adam Elliot who shot one of the few Australian stopmotion feature films here. There’s also a lot of new talent too, Isabel Peppard just finished her wonderful film ‘Butterflies’, keep an eye out for that on the festival circuit, and the guys at Oh Yeah Wow are doing some great work, and there’s lots more out there. So, I guess you’d say Melbourne has a good scene for animation – problem is finding it, as we all tend to spend most of our time locked away in dark rooms. Animation isn’t always the most social of the art forms!
Do you know anyone who has had a heart transplant?
Kim: I have just recorded a Space Pop album that sounds amazing! I can’t wait for it to come out in March.