It takes a special kind of chutzpah to flack for the remains of a publicly funded train wreck. This is particularly true when you bear a major share of the responsibility for it. West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell has that special quality.
Mitchell was a cheerleader for flim-flam man John Textor's Digital Domain scam, in which millions in public funds were sunk in pursuit of dreams of Hollywood glory. In the aftermath, any normal person would steer clear of anything spawned by Textor. But Mitchell, duped and unrepentant, is brazen enough to be touting Art Story, an animated film "in development," in which Textor has an interest.
A joint effort of animators Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams, native Floridians who left California to be part of Textor's Florida operation, Art Story was "plucked from the ashes" of Digital Domain, Blaise told the Palm Beach Post, when Textor (who apparently still has a few shekels to spare) bought the rights out of the company's bankruptcy.
For some strange reason, there are no more government officials or private capitalists anxious to buy in, so the Art Story team July 7 went straight to the general public, turning to Kickstarter to raise funds. They're looking to raise 350 large by August 23.
Mitchell jumped in on July 10 with this email blast:
Disney veteran animation filmmakers, Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams are still working in WPB, teaching at the FSU Film School. Their latest endeavor -- making the animated film, Art Story, is a phenomenal project. If they are successful in raising their initial funding requirement, the movie will be made in our great City.
The Kickstarter site for 'Art Story' features a 3-minute video introduction and is full of colorful artwork, information about the characters, the story, the production plan and more. You can view it online at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/291846368/art-story
"Art Story" is among the first family-focused, animation feature films to explore the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild, in this case, through a delightful comedy staged within the world of masterpiece art.
The story features a young boy and his grandfather - two complete opposites - who get stuck together in the vast and imaginative world of paintings. Jumping from Van Goghs, Picassos, Eshers [sic] and many more, the two unlikely companions, in their quest to get home, must journey into vast, imaginative painted realities - each complete with its own rules, challenges and quirky, fun characters.
I hope you will join me in pledging your financial support. Even $1 or $10 helps. But if you can afford more, pledge more. Then leave Chuck and Aaron an encouraging note.
These guys are AMAZING !!!
We're not going to get into how cheesy an idea Art Story seems. (When has that ever been an impediment to Hollywood success?) We do note that if Blaise is, as Kimberly "warmly" states, "teaching at the FSU Film School," someone forget to list his name among the faculty there. And we'd like to know about the promise the film "will be made in our great City."
We do like this cautionary note from the Art Story team to the question of whether it has rights to the great art it proposes to cannibalize:
No, not yet. Keep in mind it's still in a development project. Part of our effort after funding will be to look further into the rights. Many/most of the paintings we want to explore are already in the public domain, but some may not be. We'll contact the estates (or artists in a few cases) and see if they want to be a part of this film. If we run into too many road blocks, we'll weep bitterly, then move on.
Weeping bitterly and moving on would be a good idea not just for Mitchell but for all the WPB city officials who got gulled by Textor. Former Mayor/now U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel returned Textor's campaign donations. Current Mayor Jeri Muoio is bogged down trying to get back the $2 million her city lost on the deal. (The city's claim that, at the very least, an FSU facility would remain here has proved to be another pipe dream.)
Thankfully, Mitchell's Textor fixation is only a private matter this time. And besides, for a mere $75, Kickstarter supporters are guaranteed an "Art Story Cast and Crew T-Shirt." It's more than Florida's taxpayers ever got out of Digital Domain.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact [email protected].