Already a Snockophile himself, Drew came to the project after meeting Michael at a local festival and was introduced to us over a stein of beer in Astoria. His incredible skills of animation paired with an astounding ability to replicate, generating perfect Hurley-style drawings for the film. Using Michael's paintings and graphic novels as a starting point, Drew was able to give motion and dimension to Boone, Jocko and the rest of the gang. We are so grateful to have worked with this talented, obsessed man and continue to joke (a little nervously) that Elwood Snock & The Land of Lo-Fi may someday be best know as Drew Christie's first feature project.
Each second of Drew's animation is made up of ten individual frames, hand-drawn and painted from his home outside of Seattle, WA. Some of the sequences were done in ink or charcoal and lit from behind, but the majority were hand-painted in watercolor. Creating an individual drawing for each frame, Drew wrote its order in the sequence on the back, painted it color by color where needed, and then filmed it all frame by frame. Though Drew was solely responsible for the physical creation of the animated scenes, they were largely drawn from Michael Hurley’s graphic novels, album covers and characters, and the story lines were a collaboration between Drew, Susannah and Lisa. Drew was particularly gracious and creative in revising and adjusting these painstaking pieces as our ideas evolved!
"For The Werewolf Have Sympathy"
The charcoal animation Drew created to accompany "Werewolf" had such strength that it demanded to be the opening number of the film. Drew conjured up this sequence the spring before he started working with us and showed it to Michael at the 2008 Batwater Festival where they met. Because of that encounter, Michael told Drew about the film and us about Drew, creating the connection we all had wanted to start the transformation of Michael’s drawings into animations.
“Meanwhile, not far off, the Blue Navigator, Jocko, navigates the high hills..." Drew's first watercolor animation for us, this piece came straight from the pages of Michael's graphic novel "Heartbreak Hotel" and the rhythm of "Blue Driver." It paired perfectly with shots of Michael leaving for tour in the Snark and became the title sequence of the film, setting the parallel between live action video and an animated universe to follow.
"Code of the Mountains"
Based on the lyrics of "Code of the Mountain," a song Michael illustrated on the back cover his 1984 album Blue Navigator, Drew filled in the moments between panels to tell a fuller story. Featuring Boone and Jocko at The Honking Duck saloon, it introduces the pair and includes a guest appearance by Mama Molasses. Drew penned it in ink on colored paper and filmed it lit from the back to replicate the color palette of Michael's drawings.
After completing "Blue Driver," we all agreed that Drew should enter a free realm of imagining to develop an animation for "Eyes Eyes" and see where it might lead. Following an intriguing conversation with Michael on the origins of the Protein Monster, Drew’s vision melded with the lyrics of the song into a realm that can only be called inspired.
To parallel Michael’s touring travels, Drew made a watercolor animation set at Zeke's Oasis based on Jocko's roadside excursions in "Heartbreak Hotel" and Boone's piano encounter with Clementine in "The Honking Duck Marina." After Drew finished the paintings, we found inspiration in their relationship to archival video from the 80s of a piano jam extravaganza in Vermont.
Painted in saturated tones with watercolor, this one makes use of Drew’s ability to morph one thing into another to great effect. Taking up where we left Boone and Jocko last - ingesting the gifts of Peyote Pete - we enter their next level trip. In a chain of images gathered from all over Michael's graphic novels, we float by the Black Marauders, Peyote Pete, flying carnivores, the ghost train, a giant flying turtle, and other friends.
Set to "O My Stars" near the end of the film, "Ancestral Swamp" is an animated version of Michael's cover art for his 2007 album of the same name. It passes by the reoccurring, classic Hurley lady-moon and over water to land in the images of another animated album cover, “Blue Navigator.” Also in full watercolor, and a gentle treat to the eyes.
We had long envisioned the closing animation of the film and without Drew we could never have expected it to match our imagination so completely. Thank you, Drew. Painted in full watercolor, this animation features Boone and Jocko in adventures across the starry universe and into the Land of Lo-Fi at last. All told, its two minutes and forty seconds were made up of 1600 individual paintings. The pictures of Drew here document the process of creating this fantastic journey.