Long-Lost Black Angel to Hit Netflix, iTunes in Early 2014, Says Director
The short film that is said to have inspired Excalibur before disappearing for three decades will finally be made available to the public, as director Roger Christian has announced that Black Angel will be released through iTunes and Netflix in 2014.
The 25-minute movie about a knight getting lost in a fantasy realm as he returned home from the Crusades was the directorial debut for one-time set designer Christian, who worked with George Lucas on the original Star Wars. That relationship led to the short's original release, accompanying The Empire Strikes Back on its European and Australian theater release -- after which, the short pretty much disappeared (literally; the negative was believed lost until a couple of years ago).
Fully-restored by the Bay Area Visual Effects Society and Emeryville, CA's Athena Studios, Black Angel received its "world re-premiere" last week at the Mill Valley Film Festival ahead of next year's release on digital platforms. Talking to the LA Times about the film's return to circulation, Christian said that he's "waited three decades to be able to show this film to audiences once again," adding that he's "so grateful" for the assistance he received in making it available once more.
Ahead of the movie's official release, Athena Studios has made clips available online to allow audiences to see what they can expect next year.
Auntie Claus Website
New website for Auntie Claus the Movie launches. You can find the latest news as well as more about the people behind it. There will also be regular updates with behind-the-scenes pictures, artwork, details of the puppets and the most recent videos and trailers.
Auntie Claus Kicks Up Her Heels As Auntie Claus Meets Its Kickstarter Goal
Athena Studios raised its hoped-for goal of $38,000 by the Oct. 17 deadline.
There's a happy crowd today at Athena Studios, the new animation studio started by Piedmont resident Jon Peters.
The studio met - and exceeded - its Kickstarter goal of raising $38,000 to help produce a trailer and pitch package for its first feature-length film project, Auntie Claus, Peters said in an email Thursday.
The studio received $42,486 in pledges from a total of 591 backers by the deadline of Thursday, Oct. 17. Most of the funding comes from relatively small pledges, ranging from $2 to $500. Gifts to the backers range from digital wallpaper to packages that include crew T-shirts and copies on the book on which the film is based.
Athena Studios Works With Skywalker Sound On Sound Mix For Auntie Claus, Animation Film
Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based company specializing in production services for film, animation, and multimedia clients, is in the home stretch with its Kickstarter campaign to raise funds toward the production of an animated film, Auntie Claus. The Kickstarter campaign will conclude on Thursday, Oct 17, at 5:30pm PT. The studio obtained the feature film rights to the award-winning children's Christmas book by author Elise Primavera over the summer. The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, CEO/Founder, Athena Studios. Please see Kickstarter here.
Peters and Athena Studios worked on the Auntie Claus pitch trailer, featured on the Kickstarter site, with four time Academy Award®-winning sound designer and motion picture editor Ben Burtt, at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm company. Peters and Auntie Claus co-producer Brice Parker recently met Burtt during a chance encounter at Burbank Airport, and shared with him their vision for the film, and the fact that its production could create 200 jobs for the Bay Area film community.
Ultimately, Athena Studios plans the project as a 90-minute, stop-motion animated motion picture. In addition to Burtt, other heavyweight animation industry figures already committed to the production of Auntie Claus include:
Pete Kozachik, Director of Photography: Kozachik has served as DP on "Coraline",, "The Corpse Bride", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". He was involved with the Visual Effects on "Star Wars Episode II", "Ghostbusters 2", "Starship Troopers", "Star Trek IV", and "Robocop 2 and 3."
Tom Proost, Art Director: Proost has served as Art Director on "Coraline", and worked in Visual Effects for "Galaxy Quest", "Star Wars: Episode II", "The Mummy", "AI: Artificial Intelligence", and "The Matrix 2 and 3".
Brice Parker, Producer: Parker is a Pixar Animation Studios and ILM alum and was involved with Visual Effects management on the "Jurassic Park" and "The Matrix" film franchises.
Tim Taylor, Camera and Lighting: Taylor ran camera for "Coraline" and "Frankenweenie", and worked in Visual Effects for "Con Air" and "Back to the Future 2".
Athena Studios, VES/Bay Area Restore "Black Angel" Short Film
Thought to be missing for more than 30 years, "Black Angel", which was last seen in theaters across Europe and Australia in 1980 as a lead-in to "The Empire Strikes Back", made its North American premiere recently before a sold-out audience during the 36th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival.
After reading a 2012 WIRED Magazine article about how "Black Angel", believed to be missing, had been located by an archivist at Universal Studios, Athena Studios Producer Brice Parker joined with VES/Bay Area Chair David Tanaka and contacted the film's director, Roger Christian, with an offer to supervise the film's restoration at Athena Studios. For a comprehensive story on the history of "Black Angel", see: Los Angeles Times.
Shot in Scotland in 1979, the 25-minute "Black Angel" was the directorial debut of "Star Wars" art director/Academy Award winner Roger Christian. Made with financial aid from George Lucas, "Black Angel" centers on a knight returning from the Crusades, who is transported to a mystical realm where he must rescue a princess from a black knight. "Black Angel" was originally shown in theaters in Europe and Australia in 1980 as a short film which was presented just before showings of "The Empire Strikes Back." "Black Angel" was never released on VHS or DVD, and Christian himself was unable to track down the original negative. The director believed it was lost-until he got a call from an archivist at Universal Studios in December 2011, who had located that negative.
After Parker arranged for the negative of "Black Angel" to be transported to EFilm Digital Laboratories in Hollywood for careful cleaning and 4K scanning, Athena Studios received a hard drive containing frames scanned from the timed inter-positive to be digitally restored. Athena's restoration team, which included restoration artists Jorge Martinez and Mitchell Tanaka, spent a combined twelve weeks painstakingly removing splice marks and unwanted artifacts, which had been introduced by the film mastering process more than 30 years earlier. Cleanup was achieved using Pixel Farm's PFClean software. The restored frames were then rendered and exported for a new Digital Intermediate color correction at Colorflow in Berkeley, CA.
"Black Angel" director Roger Christian says, "It's been my great pleasure to work with Brice Parker, David Tanaka, and the talented restoration team at Athena Studios on the revival of "Black Angel". I've waited three decades to be able to show this film to audiences once again, and without Athena's diligence, it might have been another three decades before that happened. They've made it possible to bring 'Black Angel' into the modern era with their delicate handling of the material and with their deep understanding of how the film was shot in wide screen Cinemascope, presently truly breathtaking images for its time. The film has remained in peoples' memories since it was shown in conjunction with theatrical presentations of "The Empire Strikes Back" all over the world, so it was important to me that it retained its integrity. Brice, David, and the restoration team at Athena Studios really understood that. Today, "Black Angel" looks better than ever. And it's all thanks to this wonderful team who incorporated such enthusiasm and care for the project."
Animated Piedmont: Your Chance to Help Create a (Potentially) Major Motion Picture
Your pledge to Kickstarter can help fund a pitch package for Auntie Claus, an animated film that Piedmont resident Jon Peters hopes will become a new holiday classic.
Many Piedmonters already feel a connection to film animation through neighbors - local resident Pete Docter directed "Monsters, Inc." and "Up" and Mark Andrews directed "Brave", all for the Emeryville-based studio Pixar.
Now there's a new kid on the animation block - Athena Studios, founded last year by long-time Piedmont resident Jon Peters.
Peters aims to have his studio's first feature-length film, Auntie Claus, ready for release for the 2016 holiday season. He's currently raising funds through Kickstarter for a trailer and "pitch package" that can be presented to major film studios.
The San Francisco Examiner: Athena Studios presents Black Angel
Athena Studios presents a restored version of the 25-minute 1979 film, presumed lost for decades, by "Star Wars" art director Roger Christian about a knight returning from the Crusades who is transported to a mystical realm. The film screens at 8pm Sunday at the Throckmorton Theater, 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley. www.mvff.com
Make: Believe crashes the set of Auntie Claus at Athena Studios
We visited Athena Studios and interviewed the staff about their current stop-motion animation project, Auntie Claus. Jon Peter's Athena Studios optioned the award-winning children's Christmas book, Auntie Claus, from author Elise Primavera, and are developing an animated trailer and pitch package to adapt into a stop-motion film. This film will go out for funding to major studios for a proposed theatrical release of November, 2016.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Athena Studios has gathered a real powerhouse of animation talent from Laika, Mackinnon & Saunders, Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation Studios. Peter's group is already hard at work on the creating the pitch. What's amazing about the Bay area is that he is able to bring people to made films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and Star Wars. Jon's intention is to make sure the work also stays in the Bay area, employing so many of these talented folks already based here.
Their kickstarter program for the production of the stop-motion pitch is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/athenastudios/auntie-claus-the-movie
Play a role in the creation of a new holiday Classic.
A stop-motion feature film based on the award-winning book Auntie Claus.
Any parent today can attest that there's not enough quality film content for children anymore, and certainly not many films that an entire family - young children, teens, tweens, parents, and grandparents - enjoy watching together. At Athena Studios, we have set out to create an animated feature film that our own kids would be excited to see.
To do that we've optioned the award-winning children's Christmas book, Auntie Claus,from author Elise Primavera, and are developing an animated trailer and pitch package to adapt into a marvelous stop-motion film. This film will go out for funding to major studios for a proposed theatrical release of November, 2016.
Auntie Claus is that rare story capable of bringing families together for a classic movie-going experience. It not only captures the magic and wonder of Christmas, it also communicates a powerful theme about selflessness and personal accountability.
Hollywood has changed. The old ways of acquiring film funding are disappearing. Even some prominent filmmakers are turning toward crowd-sourcing to help develop their visions AND prove to prospective studios & distributors that audiences exist for their projects.
We firmly believe Auntie Claus can become a treasured holiday classic that audiences will enjoy year after year. We cannot do it without you though. So far, we have paid for everything out of our own pockets, but that is a very limited resource. Your contribution will finance the talent and supplies needed to bring this film to life -- it will help pay the artists who have dedicated months of their time to creating our Animation Teaser, pay for puppet fabrication and materials, set construction, camera and lighting packages, 3D printing, studio time for sound mixing and more.
Long Lost Black Angel to Be Shown at Mill Valley
Next month, a piece of Star Wars history will appear before the public for the first time in more than 30 years, when Black Angel -- a fantasy short that was screened alongside The Empire Strikes Back in European and Australian theaters in 1980 -- is screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
The short was written and directed by Roger Christian, who had worked as the set designer on the original Star Wars before making his directorial debut on the 25-minute movie, which tells the story of a knight returning from the Crusades only to find himself transported to a fantasy realm, where he has to rescue a princess.Read the full article »
Athena Studios aquires option on Auntie Claus book property for development as stop-motion animated feature
Emeryville, Calif.-based Athena Studios announced today that it is producing a stop-motion animated feature based on Elise Primavera's book Auntie Claus.
Peters and Athena Studios are actively involved in preproduction on a 90-minute, stop-motion animated motion picture based on Auntie Claus. Several heavyweight animation industry figures have already committed to the production.Read the full article »
Athena Studios Announces Auntie Claus Stop-Motion Feature
Athena Studios has already begun a treatment for the book as well as development on character design and animation tests. Studio executives are currently interviewing potential directors for the film, as well as developing a package for funding and distribution.Read the full article »
Athena Studios lends film restoration expertise to lost short Black Angel
Once-lost Star Wars-related short to screen for the first time in 33 years. How a college script debuted before Empire, went MIA, and revived as Jedi hits 30.
While it doesn't directly involve Luke or Leia (or, luckily, Jar Jar), Black Angel is every bit the missing piece to any hardcore Star Wars collector's stash. The short film represents the directorial debut of Roger Christian, better known as the Oscar-winning set designer for the original Star Wars (who then went on to direct Battlefield Earth and Underworld, become the art director on Alien and Life of Brian, and reunite with George Lucas for Phantom Menace). It ran before Empire in Australia and parts of Europe, specifically the UK and Scandinavia. What Luxo Jr. or Geri's Game is to the Pixar legacy, Black Angel is to the Lucas-verse.Read the full article »