Official first look at new film “Mermaids’ Lament” from the Director of “Strange Frame”

Easily one of my favorite films to come out of 2012 is a probably one you haven’t heard of called “Strange Frame”. This movie is brilliantly animated and directed by GB Hajim, co-written by Hajim and musician Shelley Doty, and co-stars voice talents including Tim Curry, Cree Summer, Juliet Landau, Ron Glass, Alan Tudyk, Michael Dorn, Claudia Christian and George Takei. It centers around the theme of the transformative power of love between two women. It is definitely a trippy fun beautiful film that needs to be seen by everyone!

Well, after that long intro, the reason we are here is that GB Hajim is back with a new feature film that is currently in production called “Mermaids’ Lament”. The film is a psychological drama with elements of fantasy. According to the director it pays homage to an 1986 foreign film titled “Man Facing Southeast” and deals with the issues of depression, anxiety, and trauma. It follow a woman drowning in trauma who takes a therapist beyond her own depth into the darkness and together they find the surface and the sun.

Here is the film official synopsis from the director: “It’s about two women: One who suffered an incredible trauma that left her mute and she may or may not be a mermaid. The other, a therapist who has crippling anxiety, is trying to help the first woman overcome her delusions of being a mermaid and fit better in the world. They end up helping each other out and finding a middle ground because the world is crazy and we need a little mermaid inside each of us to cope.”

Hajim has gathered together another amazing collection of creatives to bring this project to fruition which is apparent in these first official images:

To find out more about GB Hajim’s first film “Strange Frame” and how to watch it, click here. I honestly cannot wait to see what he puts together for this next film. I am sure it is going to be something very special. Be sure to check out the film’s official Facebook page here to follow the film’s production and plans for release, which the director mentions he is aiming for 2022 release.

G.B. Hajim talks about his animated lesbian rock musical "Strange Frame"

G.B. Hajim is the co-writer, cinematographer, producer, and director the animated lesbian rock musical “Strange Frame”.  The film can only be described by seeing it. The film itself is a real trip and extremely unique. It also packs a very strong voice cast including Tim Curry, Claudia Black, Ron Glass, George Takei, Alan Tudyk and Michael Dorn…just to name a few. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with G.B. about the film, his love for science fiction and his unique animation style.

Mike Gencarelli: You acted as Co-Writer, Cinematographer, Producer, and Director on “Strange Frame”, which is such a unique film; how did this come about?
G.B. Hajim: I read a lot of science fiction and it seems like science fiction film and TV always falls short of what science fiction literature is doing. So, I am a big John Varley fan and also Neal Stephenson. It seems like most of the science fiction film or TV is a just a setting for action or battle scenes. It is not really setup to take that heady trip and imagine what is humanity going to become in the future. Right now, we are already experimenting with genetic engineering and bio-modifications. We are also at the cuff of basically beginning to be a spacefaring race. I really wanted to explore those ideas here. I am also influenced by some of my favorite science fiction like “Blade Runner”. That is the short of it. From the tone of the movie you can see that I have experimented with psychedelic drugs. So all these kind of things gelled together. Shelley Doty, who co-wrote it with me, also comes from a very similar space being a big sci-fi head. We might have crammed a little too much into the movie but we really wanted to lay out a world that was different than you have seen before.

MG: How did it end up being a lesbian rock musical?
GBH: Shelley Doty, who co-wrote it, is an African American lesbian and also a rock guitarist. She has been on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine and is a very accomplished musician. So when we sat down to write this, we thought about who would we want to write about. What is great about writing about musicians is that they are seen as the lowest end of society like playing the dingiest clubs or street corners but also seen as the rock star when they are at the highest level of society. You get this unique perspective of being able to transcend all the class barriers. Since we wanted to show so much of this new universe that we were laying out, we wanted a character that could transcend all that. It seemed like a really good fit.

MG: How did you end up working with an amazing voice cast including (deep breath) Tim Curry, Claudia Black, Ron Glass, Juliet Landau, Tara Strong, George Takei, Alan Tudyk and Michael Dorn…to name a few?
GBH: We were very lucky. Early on I knew that sound was going to be very important for our film, especially since it was a musical. I was reaching out to some of the best sound guys in the business. Finally, I was introduced to Gary Rizzo, who was mixing at the time a little film called “The Dark Knight Rises”. He looked at our film and wanted to be on board. To have an Academy Award Winning sound guy on board gives you a lot of cred when talking with voice and cast directors. They were very jazzed that we had Gary on board. We ended up working with Jamie Thomason and they asked who we wanted in terms of voice actors.  Shelley and I are big sci-fi fans, obviously, so we picked through our favorite people. We ended up getting mostly everyone that we wanted. So it was really awesome. They saw what we were doing with this project and how it was very unique but they also saw how we were doing it. I trained local kids here in East Hawaii, which is a super poor area. These kids have nothing to do, so I brought them on board and trained with in animation and they became the animation crew. They really resonated with our actors.

MG: Tell us how you got music in the film by Roger Waters?
GBH: I am a huge Pink Floyd fan. When I was animating this, most of the time I had live Pink Floyd music blasting. I think “The Final Cut” is such an under-rated album and “The Gunner’s Dream” is just such a beautiful song.  It was  also related to what we were talking about in the movie. So I approached Roger Waters’ management and told them about what we were doing with the kids and the movie. Roger was really stoked about it. First you have to get the rights from the artist but then you also need to go to the rights organization, Warner/Chappell Music and those guys dragged their feet. Roger gave us this track for next to nothing but they wanted tens of thousands of dollars for this. We are this little production and didn’t have that type of money. Roger’s management stepped in and hammered at these guys until they gave this to us for virtually nothing. It is a real rarity, if you look at Roger’s credits, he hasn’t done many domestic films. So it was a real honor.

MG: Tell us about the development of the unique type of animation used in this film?
GBH: I have done all kinds of animation. In school, I had experimented with all types and even helped developed some of the first CGI when I worked at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. That aspect is very technical and gets devoid of the hand of the artist and creativity gets riddled down and sterilized when you use that type of animation. It is also very time intensive and expensive. When I moved to Hawaii, I didn’t have clients that could give me a budget where I could do that kind of animation. So I developed this new style of cut-out, which is very economic and also very easy to train with. It is mostly drawn and photoshopped by hand. We break up the drawing into mini-pieces and then move those pieces in a compositing program. It is much quicker and as an artist also much more fun since you can just throw stuff in and get it to look really rich and dense quickly. It is a very different way of animating and it is also pretty unique. I think if we get a chance to do a follow-up movie we would be able to rival the big boys like Pixar or Dreamworks. We worked out the kinks in this movie and really sharpened it up. If we get to do a sequel it will be guaranteed to knock peoples socks off.

MG: I would have loved this seen this film on Blu-ray? Any plans?
GBH: When you go to a distributor, they do things a certain way. Unless we sell tens of thousands of DVD, they are not going to do a Blu-ray release. That is the reality of it. It is very hard to make an economical Blu-ray release. With that being said, I do feel though that people that encoded this DVD made it look fucking phenomenal, especially with the data rate that they were given.

MG: What do you have planned next?
GBH: You have to have a lot of irons in the fire. I just did a pitch to Comedy Central for a bunch of shorts. I can’t talk about that more since it is still in the works. I have got plans to pitch Sony also for another TV show, maybe based on “Strange Frame”. I am also developing an animated feature for younger teens called “Ali Jamal and the Rat Prince”. It is more of a fantasy project than sci-fi but it will be in the same animation style. Then I also have a few live action projects that I am also developed but which are much lower budget. I have a background in live action and since animation takes such a long time, I would like to get a few projects done with in that format as well next.

DVD Review "Strange Frame"

Actors: Tim Curry, Claudia Black, Tara Strong, Ron Glass, Cree Summer
Directors: GB Hajim, Shelley Doty
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Wolfe Video
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

What the fuck? No really. What the fuck? I must have said that at least twenty times while watching this crazy, visual trip of a film.  This bizarre sci-fi lesbian rock musical animated film is like nothing I have ever seen before. Through the rich and very colorful CG rendered animation, this film tells the story of transformative power of love between two women in a world of space pirates, indentured slaves and genetic mutations. The film feels like a really messed up dream or a hallucination. If you are tripping on acid, this might be the film to watch while you are doing so. It is not for everyday viewing but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen and will be tuning in again for repeat viewings (and no I was not under the influence).

The voice cast for this film is unbelieveable including Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Claudia Black (TV’s “Stargate SG-1,” “90210”), Ron Glass (TV’s “Firefly,” “Barney Miller”), Juliet Landau (TV’s “Green Lantern: The Animated Series”), Tara Strong (TV’s “Ultimate Spider-Man,” “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”), George Takei (“Star Trek” franchise), Cree Summer (TV’s “The Spectacular Spider-Man,” “A Different World”), Claudia Christian (TV’s “Babylon 5”) and Dawnn Lewis (TV’s “Futurama,” “A Different World”). There is also a voice cameos from impressive talent like Alan Tudyk (“Firefly”, “Wreck-It Ralph”) and Michael Dorn (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”).  I mean for a film that I have never heard of, they sure didn’t skimp on getting talent to be apart of this project.

Official Premise: Set at the end of the 28th century, the human race has long since abandoned a desolate earth. In order to survive, humanity has been using genetic engineering to adapt to otherworld environments, to the point where changing one’s skin color or gender has become commonplace. On the moon Ganymede, saxophonist Parker (Claudia Black) and guitarist Naia (Tara Strong) develop a close relationship. The two embark on their new relationship and form a new band — but they also must fight for their freedom from the evil Mig (Tim Curry).

The main aspect that I was very disappointed about this release is that it is only on DVD.  This film would have honestly looked and sounded 100% better on Blu-ray or even converted to 3D Blu-ray.  Now that would have been a trip. I hope that they are considering this somewhere down the line after this DVD is release because I would be very interested to see that. The special features includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Claudia Black: On Strange Frame, Sex Scenes and Sci-Fi” and “In the Studio with Claudia Black, Tara Strong, Ron Glass, Cree Summer, Juliet Landau, Michael Dorn and George Takei”, as well as a deleted scene.  If you enjoyed this film then you should definitely check out these extras.