One would think that the entertainment news media would be all over a story that involves an independent filmmaker, Michael Attardi who not only surpassed the all-time wins record but, has smashed the record as a non-studio giant. Attardi’s 66th award on the film festival circuit happened at the Queens International Film Festival. No one can dispute that Attardi’s animation sensation, “Once Upon a Christmas Village,” starring the voice talents of Jim Belushi, Tim Curry, Amanda Davis and you guessed it, Michael Attardi, holds this incredible record-breaking feat. Can you believe that this is his first film?
Let’s take a deeper look at the project; ever since I joined Michael Attardi on the film festival tour this, one question that always seems to surface was “How did you get Jim Belushi and Tim Curry in your film?” With his humble response Attardi says, “I was very lucky to find two great actors who believed in the project.” What an understatement! Belushi and Curry both knew what they were getting into. They read his script, listened to his music and signed on the dotted line. Don’t think for a moment, that Belushi and Curry didn’t see his concept as a full length feature animation mega-hit someday. This is why both of these actor’s have survived the test of time. They positioned themselves a role in his feature. That is why they’ve lasted so long in this crazy business. It’s all about trusting your gut! Did I mention that this was his first film?
Now let’s take a look at the animation; a typical question asked to Attardi was, “How did you make your animation film? It looks completely different and fresh then the same old CGI animation we see from Hollywood.” Attardi response, I have a very creative and talented animation team that thinks outside the box. We mixed a lot of old school techniques as well as new technology that I believe separates our style from the typical Hollywood animation. We use live backgrounds, motion capture and an organic CGI texture to our characters.” Oh by the way, did I mention that this was his first film.
Another question that is always asked during his Q&A sessions is; “How much money did you spend?” To everyone’s amazement as months would drop to the floor. “This film cost us $110,000 to make.” Said Attardi. “Sony Animation thought we spent a Million.” If I didn’t know Michael Attardi so well, I would have sided with Sony Animation. You see, Michael Attardi is just that talented. He raised his own money, wrote the story, starred as the lead voiceover, collaborated on the music, collaborated on the special effects, directed and produced his multi-award winning short animation. As much as he has done, he is still humble enough to give much of his credit to his animation and musical teams. I believe that I’ve mentioned that this was his first film?
Just like Michael, I too have a new approach for the entertainment business. I’ve learned that if it’s not recognizable to the suits in Hollywood, they will not touch it with a ten foot pole. They did it with Orson Wells, Walt Disney, Hanna/Barbara and even George Lucas. They laughed at Disney with his theme park and cartoon ideas. Tell that to the Disney stockholders who have made a fortune on one man’s dream. Hollywood laughed at George Lucas when he only wanted the merchandising rights for “Star Wars,” as the studio thought they screwed him. Try and laugh at George now and Lucas Films who is sitting on the real empire who struck back.
This was why I thought it was important for me to write this article. Michael Attardi is a needle in the haystack. One day, Hollywood is going to be pricked by that same needle they never looked for to begin with. Attardi has shown up at their doorstep with a shiny new package that is glowing with 66 awards. They don’t know what to do, so they haven’t opened up the door yet to let him in. Just think about it, why would they? It’s a package they’ve never seen before, well, since Walt Disney. I hope I didn’t forget to mention something important? Oh! Like this was his first film.