Thailand Monk Studios’ “Escape of the Gingerbread Man” wins at Los Angeles Cinema Festival

By AMRITA VALECHA | 12 April, 2011 - 10:32

Monk studio which recently produced its first short film, Escape of the Gingerbread Man written & directed by Tod Polson won the best short film at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood 2011 and The Los Angeles Film & Script Festival 2011. The film will be screening in Block # 3 at 4pm on April 23rd 2011 at The Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica CA. Congratulation Tod.

Escape of the Gingerbread Man is a 12 minute short about a young storyteller who challenges the old master in a pub on the west coast of Ireland. And gets a much different story than he bargained for! The film is a comedy, but also a subtle commentary on the changing traditions of Ireland; and really a commentary on changes in tradition world wide. It is inspired by Tod’s experiences living in Ireland, and working with legendary Irish storyteller Eddie Lenihan while teaching at the "Animation Workshop" in Denmark. Around 15 artists worked on the short film for 6 months in total over a three year period.

Talking to Animation Xpress Asia Pacific, Juck Somsaman shared, "The project brought designers, artists and animators from 14 countries to the Monk to join our Thai crew creating a creative, international atmosphere that becomes a character of our studio. It's our goal to steer Monk into a creative studio rather than an outsourcing facility and the hardest part of training and bring up a young local crew is about training their eyes, expand their vision and allow them to work as a team together among people from different culture, background and creative differences. At the end we have a team that are very proud of the work they contributed."

There are two major design styles in the film. The "story" sections of the film were inspired in part by classic children's book illustration from the 1950's. Tod shared, “I've always admired the use of bright colors, simple shapes, and flat planes of that period. In contrast, the pub is designed to be more dimensional, with more muted colors, tones, using a much shorter depth of field. Really, I wanted to contrast a more serious, "grown-up" world, with that of a child.”

The story originated in the late 1990's when Tod was working with designer Maurice Noble on a series of short films called "Noble Tales." After Maurice passed away in 2001, the concept lay dormant until he began working in Ireland on "The Secret of Kells." In fact, the short was originally supposed to go in front of the feature when the gang at Cartoon Saloon thought "Kells" might run a bit short. So Tod took the original idea, and started cobbling together a script based more on my experiences living in Ireland. 

Tod further shared, “Just by coincidence, Juck contacted me, and asked if I would like to make a short at "The Monk" in Bangkok as a sort of training exercise. After I finished the color script for "Kells" in Ireland, I returned to Thailand, and began working on the short in earnest. At the same time I was going back and forth from Thailand to teach at "The Animation Workshop" in Viborg, Denmark. Through the school I received a small grant to help develop the film. Juck was kind enough to allow me to bring a few of my Danish students to train at the studio in Bangkok. Working side by side with the Thai staff we were all able to get "Escape of the Gingerbread Man!!! into shape.”

“The "Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood" is an important win for us because it's the first festival "Escape of the Gingerbread man!!!" has played at.  It's also "The Monk Studio's" first internal film project. It's a huge relief when someone outside your small group of friends and film makers appreciates your work.  The short is slated to play in quite a few more festivals, so hopefully this will be just the beginning.” Juck concluded.