A children’s book author is told that her new manuscript needs to be “darker”, but when her revisions piss off the characters in the book, they come back to make some changes of their own.

Danny and The Wild Bunch might seem like a lively little animation on the surface, but the film lurks into darker territories as the cute animated characters get a little character of their own. The premise is short and fairly simple, but it feels just right in a teasing kind of way, where this little bunch can open the door to something much bigger. Like many films, ‘Danny’ started as a personal short film idea that director Robert Rugan had many years ago, but never had the resources to complete it the way he originally intended. After meeting some really talented people in both the CG/animation world and in the live action production world over the years, Robert reached back in his archives to revive his old idea.

I really wanted to find something fun for us all to work on, so I pulled DANNY out, rewrote it, trimmed it down, and sent it out to everyone. They all seemed to dig the script, so DP Pete Konczal and producer Molly Mayeux and I started pulling the pieces together. I was always a fan of Nora Zehetner from her role in Rian Johnson’s movie ‘Brick’ and was able to get in touch with her through actor Rob Tepper, who I already knew I wanted to use for the voice of Danny.

A short like this evidently needs the collaborative work of several talented people, but more importantly, passionate people who take on the project as a passion of their own, making it a labor of love.

On the post side, I rounded up the A-team of animators and compositors that I had worked in the past – Dave Thomilson, Angel Negron, Dave Alonso and some new faces — character designers Tad Lambert and Chris Coveilli and animator Frank Patterson. Everyone came out and worked for free – for the fun and love of it which allowed us to put the little bit of production money we had on the screen. In the final stages, NYC based post house Nice Shoes came on to do the final composite and color grade, again all pro bono. It was truly a group effort.

Darker children’s cartoon characters is strangely refreshing, which makes this little short such an interesting concept. So take a 5 minute break and enjoy the Wild Bunch!