Pay $9.99 and this booklet will tell you!

$9.99 The Meaning of Life

$9.99 The Meaning of Life

A stop motion movie recently released by “Regent Releasing” across North America called $9.99 is an adaptation of the short stories by Etgar Keret. The story explores the meaning of life through a booklet costing just $9.99. The booklet grabs the attention of the main character Dave Peck , a 28 year old unemployed guy still living at home. The story centers around a group of individuals in an apartment block who themselves are searching for happiness who are cynical about the booklet that Dave promotes.

There is a real mix of characters in this stop motion movie. A retired guy “Albert” has a guardian angel (wings and all) living with him. Albert is basically unhappy with life and looks for a way out to anywhere but here.

Albert and His Guardian Angel

Albert and His Guardian Angel

Ron “the underachiever” has a group of 2 inch tall hard drinking students. Zack, a young boy bribed by his father in to drinking his milk for 50c / glass in order to buy the latest toy ( a soccer kicking wind up toy ). But changes his mind about saving the money to saving the piggy bank “pig” instead as time passes.

The movie is directed by Tatia Rosenthal (born 1971 in Tel Aviv, Israel), employed 9 stop motion animators (Daniel Alderson, Yonatan Bereskin, Darren Burgess, Steven Cox, Anthony Elworthy, Jan-Erik Maas, Sharon Parker, Andrew Spilsted and Norman Yeend.) The shoot took 40 weeks.

The animation was done at 24 fps with 2 frames per position. 24 fps in order to fit in with the Digital format of cinema today.

Wonder Sets and Characters

Wonder Sets and Characters

The Director Tatia Rosenthal went for a realistic look and feel for the characters. She deliberately sought out stop motion animators who had a realistic (less cartoonish) feel to their animation work.

A quote from Norman Yeend reflects their approach

“The biggest challenge with this stop motion was making the characters perform in a believable way. Despite a degree of stylization it needed to be quite realistic – the characters have their quirks and traits and so on. It;s tricky to convey that. You make the puppet move, but it’s another thing to make live. There are certain wacky looks and movements that your might give a “cartoony” character, which we certainly don’t in $9.99. It’s a matter of observing people around you, even your own actions at times. You’ll mimic an action, time it, break it down into frames and try and replicate that with your puppets. So, it’s quite different from cartoon action, whihc will be quite exaggerated; this is more naturislistic.”

The stop motion puppets were 1/6 scale. The look of the characters by Leslie Osborne is drawn from the paintings of Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud paintings influenced the Puppets look

Lucian Freud paintings influenced the Puppets look

They certainly do have an “oil painting” type look about them.

The movie was shot using CanonĀ  EOS 30D SLR digital still cameras at Sydney’s Carnival studios.

The movie is directed at adults. There is no wallace and gromit here guys. Some might find this movie a bit “arty”. As one Youtube genius (PvtGermanWagz) commented..

Oh no, it happened….. really shitty artsy retarded film festivals movies are? now coming out in claymation!! God help us all…..

Classic Youtube art critic there. But I think it’s too harsh. Yes the movie is as far as you can get from GI Jones blockbusters but it is intolerant and lazy to dismiss it is such a way. I would encourage everyone to take the time to appreciate the work involved in creating such a detailed stop motion piece of art.