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Animated idea: RR family makes cartoon from scratch

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Animated idea: RR family makes cartoon from scratch
Animated idea: RR family makes cartoon from scratch

Local animator and filmmaker Debbie Bonzon poses with her children, from left, Thad, Hannah, Tim, Abby (in the back) and Mary, and their dog Hulk at their Rio Rancho home. Bonzon and her kids worked for several years to complete an animated short made from scratch at home.

A dog named Faithful keeps watch over his mater’s fish as three mischievous sea birds try to hatch a plan to steal them, along with Faithful’s food.

This cartoonish premise is part of the plot for a new animated short being shown exclusively at Rio Rancho’s Premiere Cinemas this Thursday.

The unique thing about this summer release is, instead of being made in a Hollywood studio, the film was created by a Rio Rancho family in their spare time at home.

Debbie Bonzon, creative director and mother of five children who helped finish the project, said she always wanted to create an animated short.

“When I was working in Hollywood in the ‘90s, I always had it in the back of my mind to make my own film,” Bonzon said. “I wasn’t married yet and there were no kids in the picture, but I had the idea since then.”

As time went on, her idea grew into a working script and story boards that she said would eventually pay homage to the classic cartoons of her youth.

“I wanted to do a traditional two-dimensional hand-drawn animated film in the classic MGM Warner Bros. style,” Bonzon said. “I worked at Warner Bros. and I loved that style because I grew up on it.”

She said she began the animation process for the film in 2010, but could only devote a few weeks at a time to the project.

Animated idea: RR family makes cartoon from scratch

“Having freelance projects and kids to raise took up the bulk of my time, but I had the desire to complete this idea with a minute here and there of free time,” she said.

According to Bonzon, the film consists of nearly 1,440 frames per minute per picture multiplied by 10, for a grand total of 15,000 frames for an 11-minute run time.

“Me and the kids hit ‘gang busters’ in 2015,” she said. “This was the year that everybody just jumped the project full-force.”

Bonzon said making the film would have been next to impossible without the help of her five children. Her crew is Abby, 18; Tim, 16; Thad, 14; Hannah, 12; and Mary, 10.

“I painted and registered the cells, and I did a lot of the compositing,” Tim said. “I also figured out how to use (Adobe) After Effects and Premiere (editing tools).”

Tim said he removed smudges from the cells and made cuts in Premiere that would move the story along within the short’s desired time frame.

Animated idea: RR family makes cartoon from scratch

After the cells were complete but before going to editing, Bonzon said she used her own Oxberry Model 20 camera, one of only six still working in the world, to photograph each frame.

After completing her passion project, she invited some of her fellow church members to view the film.

“Everyone laughed at the right moments and understood the message of the film, which was big for me,” Bonzon said.

Recently her film, entitled “To Catch a Fish,” was nominated for Best Animation at the International Christian Film Festival held in Orlando, Florida.

“I would like to do a series of films based on the characters in the cartoon for future animated projects,” Bonzon said. “For now, it’s nice to have completed this project, and I want to take the time to enjoy a bit longer.”

“To Catch a Fish” will show at Premiere Cinemas in Rio Rancho on Thursday at 7 p.m. There will be a brief “making of” explanation and Q&A session following the film.

Go to (To Catch a Fish) for tickets.