(Almost) On Their Own

Making an animated feature film is akin to scaling a mountain, it’s a painstaking, long and difficult process, even with a large crew and all the necessary tools. Attempting to create an animated feature with a skeleton crew and a shoestring, independent budget feels like an impossible task and yet a few filmmakers are doing just that with fantastic results. Any type of independent filmmaking requires grit, determination and creative resilience, but what are the unique challenges (or freedoms) that animation brings to the process? This panel of filmmakers who have all successfully produced a feature (or, shockingly, more than one!) discuss the nuances, horror stories and surprisingly delights that came from making the film (almost) all on their own.

This is a pre-recorded panel will be made available here and on the AIF YouTube channel on October 21st.


Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao is the writer and Director of Bombay Rose, an animated feature film that Opened the VENICE CRITIC’S WEEK 2019, followed by Toronto IFF, Busan IFF, Macao IFF, Marrakech IFF etc. 

Her début feature film has since been to over 50 international festivals in 2019-20. The film won seven awards including the Silver Hugo at the 53rd Chicago Intl Film Fest and Silver Gateway at MAMI, Mumbai Intl. Film Fest. It is now available on Netflix. 

Gitanjali emerged into the international stage with the animated short film ‘Printed Rainbow’ which premièred and won three awards in CANNES CRITIC’S WEEK, 2006. The film made it to the OSCAR shortlist in 2008 and won 25 awards. Her latest short animation, “Tomorrow My Love” has had its World premiere in August at the 74th Locarno Film Festival 2021.

Ryan Braund

Ryan is an Annecy and Sitges award nominated writer, director and animator specializing in hand-drawn rotoscope animation. Known for creating adult-themed, lo-fi textured visual pieces with both commercial and critical appeal; his indie debut feature ‘Absolute Denial’ was nominated for ‘Best Film’ at multiple prestigious film festivals around the world. He is currently in development on his second animated feature.

Signe Baumane

Signe Baumane is a Latvian-born, Brooklyn-based independent filmmaker, artist, writer, and animator. She has made 16 award-winning animated shorts but is best known for her first animated feature “Rocks in my Pockets”. The film covers a 100-year history of depression and suicide of women in her family, including herself. It premiered at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2014, where it received a FIPRESCI Prize. The film went on to over 160 international festivals and opened theatrically in the U.S. through Zeitgeist Films.

Signe’s new animated feature “My Love Affair With Marriage” fuses animation with music, theater, science, photography, three-dimensional sets and traditional hand-drawn animation to tell the story of a spirited young woman’s quest for perfect love and lasting marriage. The film premiered in June 2022 at Tribeca Festival.

Signe is a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow in Film for New York Foundation for the Arts. She has a degree in Philosophy from Moscow State University.  

Philip Gelatt

Philip Gelatt has worked across multiple media including videogames, comics, and film.

His first film as writer and director, The Bleeding House, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011. He went on to write the Nebula Award nominated film Europa Report starring Sharlto Copley and Annamaria Marinca.

In video games, Gelatt won a WGA award in 2016 for his work on Square Enix’s Rise of the Tomb Raider.

He is currently working on unannounced sci-fi & horror projects for Frictional Games, makers of Soma and the Amnesia series.

In 2018, he wrote and directed the surreal sci-fi thriller THEY REMAIN starring William Jackson Harper, based on the work of Laird Barron. 

He’s also served lead writer on the adult animated Netflix series Love Death + Robots.

THE SPINE OF NIGHT is his third feature film.

Morgan Galen King

Refining a modern approach to hand-drawn rotoscope animation has seen Morgan Galen King sequestered and drawing for the better part of a decade, finally culminating with THE SPINE OF NIGHT.

Currently residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by way of Philadelphia, King’s process draws heavily on the work of Ralph Bakshi and the cult classic Heavy Metal.

THE SPINE OF NIGHT is his first feature film.