Thursday, February 24, 2011

'Let's Pollute' proves that small budget is no Oscar obstruction

Not all Oscar-nominated films cost big bucks. Geefwee Boedoe made one for less than $15,000 in his home studio and a friend's garage, writing his own tinkles and asking his wife to sing.

"I didn't really have a budget, so I didn't pay myself," says Boedoe, maker of the six-minute animated film Let's Pollute, a social send-up about U.S. consumption and its environmental destruction. He started working on the film more than three years ago, taking breaks only so he could do self-employed work to pay the bills.

A former Pixar animator, Boedoe wrote, directed and animated the film himself. He teamed up with a tiny post-production crew, including co-producer Joel Bloom, to edit the final version in Bloom's garage.

"This is all new," he says about the pre-Oscar buzz and Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. He has never been to the Oscars, so for the occasion, he bought a 1960s black-tie-like outfit at a era shop in San Francisco, where he lives.

"Hopefully, they'll let me in," he says with a chuckle.

He sees his proposal as a sort of David and Goliath battle waged with pencils and computers. He says his four competitors in the best-animated-short category had much bigger budgets.

Pixar's nominee, Day & Night, available for purchase on iTunes, was shown to many audiences before the Disney-Pixar box office hit Toy Story 3. Two of the three foreign productions, The Gruffalo and The Lost Thing, are based on popular children's books, and the French offering, Madagascar, carnet de voyage, was backed by a production company.

He says his satire, animated in the style of 1950s educational films, has won awards at several regional film festivals, but not many Americans have seen it. He says those who have seem to either love or hate it.

"Pollution is our heritage and keeps our economy going strong," the narrator says, tongue-in-cheek, as he follows an American family doing its unhelpful best to keep up with the Joneses.

Boedoe says the best part of an Oscar nomination is having more people see his film. Since every academy member who votes for a winner in the group has to watch each candidate, he says: "I think I have a shot at winning."


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