Annabel Lee is a mid 19th-century poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s work has been the influence of countless films, TV shows, and songs in the last 100 years. Considered to be one the greatest poets ever this continues to be a staple of learning in schools.
Updating old classics for new generations is a common part of the arts. Trying to get young kids excited about literature and poetry isn’t always easy and that was what we were tasked to do. We were asked to first create music from the poem, it could be any genre, but the lyrics couldn’t be changed in any way. We contacted our good friend and frequent collaborator Rolphy to create the music. Rolphy is a musician and hip-hop artist that we have worked with on a few different projects, and we felt hip-hop was the perfect fit for poetry.
When we sat down to discuss what the video would be, we went through many different ideas. At this point we had only worked with live action and animation, even though we had an interest in it, wasn’t one of our strong suits. Every project doesn’t need to be a high concept or be a risk, but you always need to weigh the options. Usually, we present a few different ideas to the client, and always include one high concept one to gauge their interest. On this project, we didn’t have that option. We had a brief and were competing against other filmmakers around the world. We decided to take a risk for no other reason but to push our skills into a new territory.
Stop motion is something as a group we always had an interest in, but never took the plunge on any of our projects. Stop motion is equal part art, photography, and filmmaking, and requires a lot of hours to complete. We had a pretty tight deadline and decided to split the production. Two of us would film a scene, while another would work on editing and post production of the scenes as they were completed.
We settled on a real foreground built on a table, and a green screen for the background. This allowed us to animate the background in post production and save time during the shoot. Rolphy got us a cut of the music and we were very impressed with it. We quickly adapted the scenes we wrote to fit with the music as we know had the timing down. Over the course of 3 days, we built, filmed and edited the entire project.
The end result was a great first time stop motion film and something that captured the essence of the poem and was unique. When paired with Rolphy’s music it really was a great piece to educate children on poetry. We won 1st place and the video has since been used to teach children more about poetry around the world.