We're proud to present the short animation, ‘I Have Your Heart’, a collaboration between New York illustrator Molly Crabapple, international rockstar Kim Boekbinder, and Melbourne animator Jim Batt. The film is the story of a good girl with a bad heart and the boy whose death will save her life. Told through darkly whimsical stopmotion, the story was inspired by ‘The Organ Donor’s March’, Boekbinder’s rollicking, accordion sing‐a‐long song about love, loss, and open‐heart surgery. A Q&A with Molly, Kim and Jim follows below — Eds.
BB: Beautiful, heartwarming, magical... and a hell of a lot of work. Tell us about the process.
MK&J: Making this film was a long and detailed process. The characters and scene elements were hand drawn by Molly Crabapple, then scanned and photoshopped into layouts for moveable puppets, props, and scenery. These were printed on a thick paper stock, cut out by hand, and crafted into freestanding characters and sets. This paper world was then brought to life frame by frame with stopmotion animation by Jim Batt, using a trusty Canon 7D and Dragonframe software. Kim Boekbinder created an extended version of her song ‘The Organ Donor’s March’ to score the finished film.
BB: How was the drawing for this animation different than the usual comic or illustration process?
Molly: I always thought comics were the most brutal, tedious thing you could do with a crowquill pen, but I was wrong. Animators, hats off, you are the martyrs of this business. Even doing the relatively coddled job of designing the characters/sets was a tremendous amount of work that involved drawing objects and characters from every possible angle, then breaking them into pieces. Luckily, Kim and Jim are good whip crackers and art directors.
BB: Where did the inspiration for the song come from?
Kim: The idea for the song came from a story on "This American Life" about a teenage girl who received a donor heart from a boy who was killed in a gang fight. I was struck by how this young girl felt so much pressure to have a really good life ‐ that in order to deserve another person's heart, she had to be good enough for two people.
In my version of the story there is a little bit of romance between the girl and the boy that she has never met. She feels his heart beat everyday and thinks of him as a separate entity inside herself.
BB: Why did you decide to use stopmotion animation instead of, say, computer animation in the same style?
Jim:: We decided at the outset to avoid software and go with a more hands on animation style. There’s something really beautiful and tactile about physically crafting the sets and characters, the way the light catches the paper. You get wonderful moments of serendipity, and everything sort of shimmers with potential life in stop‐motion, whereas in the computer it's easy to get bogged down in twiddling settings and keyframes forever.
BB: What was the most challenging thing in the production? Who are your animation influences?
Jim:: Animation is an art that requires constant problem solving and invention, which makes it both exhausting and very rewarding. It also takes the patience of a zen monk, as any frustration only slows the process down even further. The paper puppet animations of Jamie Caliri were a huge influence on this particular project. His animated title sequence for the Lemony Snicket film was one of my original inspirations, along with Tim Hope's insanely awesome short film 'I Am The Wolfman'.