Artspace exhibition premiers William Joyce's newest short film, "Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat."
Shreveport’s Academy Award-winning filmmaker, writer, and illustrator William Joyce tells the story of the making of his newest short film, “Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat,” from napkins and a paper tablecloth sketch complete with gumbo stains to a worldwide collaboration and the use of a revolutionary style of technology will be featured in an artspace free exhibition opening Friday, August 27, at 5:30 p.m. at, 710 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport. SRAC is also offering complimentary tickets to see the premiere of “Mr. Spam Gets a new Hat” at the Robinson Film Center at 617 Texas St. to anyone attending the artspace exhibition. Robinson will show the short film every half hour from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Joyce, who wrote and directed the Academy Award-Winning animated short, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” has teamed up with an impressive group of industry veterans to produce "Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat,” including Executive Producers Tom Jacomb, Namit Malhotra, Visual Effects Supervisor Taylor Moll, Producer Michelle “Shelley” Smith, CG Supervisor Gabrielle Pelligrini, and DNEG Feature Animation Senior VP of Creative Production David Prescott. Local artist Joe Bluhm was head of storyboarding and John Hunter, composer and partner at Breed Music scored the soundtrack.
Joyce says, “Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat” is a jubilant mix of surrealism and romance. The year is 1927 and Mr. Spam, who is a budding inventor and visionary, lives in a charming cottage with his dog Spot and a house full of dancing cutlery, and appliances. He has many dreams, but none as joyful as his dream of love for the lovely and talented Miss Dot who lives next door. Complications ensue. But love and daydreams win the day.
The artspace exhibition shows the process of creating “Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat” from the beginning sketches and story ideas to storyboarding, character development, and ultimately the final film. It will include the first sketch of Mr. Spam done on a gumbo-stained Cush’s Grocery paper tablecloth, walls of pencil-sketched storyboards, designs for the characters and sets, screen grabs from the digital animation, and character sculptures. It’s a peek into the genius of William Joyce and how tales evolve. He describes the film as being inspired by Rene Magritte, Buster Keaton, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers and ‘Singing in the Rain’.
Joyce cites many challenges and “firsts” in the making of “Mr. Spam,” including incorporating revolutionary new techniques using real-time Unreal Engine technology to push the boundaries of producing feature animation. Joyce also had the desire to create the vibrant colors of early Technicolor in the “Mr. Spam” short—the technique that used red, blue, and yellow strips of film laid on top of each other and projected through huge projectors to give old films their vivid and dreamlike qualities. Both challenges took a lot of “technical heavy lifting” says Joyce. “There’s never been color like the old Technicolor. ‘Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat’ looks as if it were filmed on the same yellow brick road as Oz.”
He also points out how challenging it was to make this short film in the middle of a worldwide pandemic when no one working on the film was ever in the same place—not in the same room—not even on the same continent.
“I only ever met two of the crew who worked on the film. We would work via zoom every day from sometimes five different locations including Shreveport, London, Vancouver, Montreal, and Chennai. We had a really, really good team. The pandemic made us adapt. But we came together and got the job done. It was inspiring!” says Joyce.
Joyce began his film career on Toy Story and has since been a producer, screenwriter, production designer and director in both animation and live-action. In 2009, he founded Moonbot Studios, a multimedia storytelling company producing books, apps, films and video games, winning numerous Emmy, Annie, Cannes, and Clio awards. Joyce won an Academy Award for its 2012 animated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. He has written and illustrated 50 bestselling children’s books and novels, which have been translated into over 40 languages. His feature films, all based on his books, include Epic, Rise of the Guardians, Robots, and Meet the Robinsons. His television series include the groundbreaking Rolie Polie Olie, for which he was creator and showrunner. Bill was named by Newsweek magazine as “One of the 100 People to Watch in the New Millennium.”
Joyce is excited to tell the story of his newest short film, “Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat” in his hometown and in artspace where he serves as artistic director.
“An exhibition such as this in Artspace is a perfect place to show young people a way in—show them that animation and film is something that they can do. This exhibition shows everyone how to make a film. Artspace is a venue where parents can bring their aspiring young artists and animators and support them in their art.”
Also opening that same evening in Mainspace at artspace is an exhibition of vibrant, 3-D art done with a proprietary paint on sheets of steel by Byron May entitled “Abstractions on Steel,” and on the mezzanine will be the Critical Mass 8 Solo Show of Best of Show Literary Artist Mawiyah Kai EL-Jamah Bomani entitled Thick Air: Rituals of Resistance. Visit www.artspaceshreveport.com or www.shrevearts.org for more information.
DNEG is one of the world's leading visual effects and animation companies for feature film and television, with studios in London, Vancouver, Montréal, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Chennai, and Chandigarh. DNEG has won five Oscars for ‘Best VFX’ in the last ten years, five BAFTA Awards, two Emmy Awards, and 11 Visual Effects Society Awards for visual effects work on shows including “First Man,” “Chernobyl,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Dunkirk,” “Ex Machina,” “Interstellar,” “Inception,” and “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt 2.”
Projects currently in production at DNEG include the movies “The Matrix 4,” “Dune,” “Uncharted,” and “F9: The Fast Saga;” TV shows including “Jupiter’s Legacy,” “Shadow and Bone,” ”The Wheel of Time,” and “The Irregulars.” DNEG Feature Animation’s projects include “Ron’s Gone Wrong” (Disney) and “Under The Boardwalk” (Paramount), among other projects.