I’ve worked in many studios, but will always have a special fondness for MAVERIX STUDIOS, the place where I first created my own ideas, rather than merely being a cog in someone else’s machine. All other members of the Maverix collective explored their own creative visions too and it was constantly chaotic, nutty & fun, as such stimulating places often are. Studio founder Robert Valley has recently completed a 35 minute animated movie that is the culmination of projects I saw him start back at Maverix Studios around 15 years ago; PEAR CIDER & CIGARETTES.
100% animated in Photoshop, Robert wrote, designed, animated, and coloured it all himself, and did the voiceover narration too. This one-man-band approach fits perfectly with the deeply personal story of Robert helping his boundary-pushing childhood friend TECHNO as he nears the end of his life. A narrator reflecting on the influence of a larger-than-life friend is the kind of story often dealt with in a novel or a documentary film, yet being hand-animated gives it a unique quality I’ve never seen before.
The first person perspectives Robert has often used in his own projects are shown to great effect here, as we experience what it was like to fly to China and become embroiled in Techno’s self destructive last days. Shots of the insides of police cars seen during delinquent teen adventures, later become tawdry POV scenes of night clubs, drug-taking and taxis, eventually becoming Chinese hospital rooms and airports as Techno deals with getting an organ transplant and his old friend Robert must become ‘the responsible one’. The frustration with his friend’s foibles and sadness at the inevitable outcome are mixed with scenes of childhood awe at the exploits of his friend, making for a touching portrait rendered in a way that could only be done in animation. I really think this is a masterpiece, where many years spent perfecting animation technique and graphic style have finally found their perfect personal expression in a truly moving (in more ways than one) piece of art.
The film was self financed with a boost from a Kickstarter campaign (to pay for music rights and post production) and now the 35 minute film is on VIMEO. For less than the price of a bottle of cider and a pack of smokes you can purchase this labor of love (or rent if you prefer).