The award-winning book ELENA'S SERENADE by Campbell Geeslin (illustrated by Ana Juan) is a fascinating picture book about a girl glassblower in Mexico. In the more than ten years since it was published (Atheneum Books for Young Readers), it has captivated readers with its story of empowerment and magic, and its rich and glorious illustrations. Now, one of its biggest fans is trying to get it made into an animated feature film.
Sarah Wayne Callies (best known as Lori on THE WALKING DEAD) is working with FullDawa Films through a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production:
The Kickstarter campaign for “Elena’s Serenade: The Pilot“ went live on Wednesday, January 13th, to promote and support Sarah Wayne Callies’ latest creative endeavor, a screenplay adapted from Campbell Geeslin’s children’s picture book “Elena’s Serenade“. First published in 2004, it received the Parents' Choice Award the same year and was commended for the Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Campbell Geeslin fully backs Sarah’s wish to make his book into an animation film.
If successful, the Kickstarter funds will help to finance a pilot, which will consist of 3 to 5 minutes of the final film. This excerpt will be used as a funding tool, which can be presented to film boards and private financiers in order to get the rest of the animated feature film made. FullDawa has already obtained complete support from the CNC, the French National Film Board, which has committed to financing a part of the pilot’s budget.
FullDawa Films EP David Atrakchi introduced the script to French animation director Guillaume Ivernel, best known for his animated film “Dragon Hunters” released in 2008. He immediately took to the story, inspired by its poetry and Mexican backdrop, and set out to create Elena’s universe and characters alongside illustrator Valérie Hadida. In addition to Ivernel, esteemed comic book author Tony Sandoval has joined the team, along with animation powerhouse Toutenkartoon, reputed stereographer Joséphine Dérobe and Les Androids Associés, who will be handling all pre-visualization techniques. Celestial musicians Mirabai Ceiba are the project’s latest addition and have recently agreed to score the film.
The film depicts the story of Elena, a young girl who dreams of becoming a glassblower just like her father. But he wants a different life for his daughter and will not teach her his art. When tragedy strikes her family, Elena must learn to make glass in order to save them. So she sets off on her own across the Mexican desert to go to Monterrey and learn from the great glassblowers. The journey is full of new creatures and people, some who will guide the girl on her way, and some who want to steal her art and her spirit. If she can make it back home, she will not only have grown as an artist, but as a daughter, a friend, and a young woman.
The story is “so full of inspiration for my daughter’s creative spirit and her courage as a girl. I loved it, and I read it to her almost every day for months.” says Sarah. “And then one day, I saw it as a movie in my head. It’s never happened to me that way before, but I just closed my eyes and saw the whole thing – new characters, new parts of the journey. The essence of this wonderful girl Elena I had been seeing every day on her amazing journey; this girl who made me giggle and weep and cheer for her – I wanted to introduce her to a wider audience. “
Rewards for Kickstarter donations range from the official download of the pilot and limited edition prints, to an exclusive art book created by Guillaume Ivernel and a signed copy of Sarah’s original script for the pilot. Prizes for top-tier donations include an original production visual signed by the entire team; and hand-drawn sketches of the cast of characters, by both Valérie Hadida and Tony Sandoval.