Ode to Dirty Harry

Illusion Studios pushes the envelope with Boogie, a tongue-in-cheek, ultra-violent 2D movie about a tough-guy assassin based on a popular Argentine comic strip.

Move over, Jason Statham. The worldly tough-as-nails gunman for hire has been a popular staple of action movies for a long time. This year, this reliable figure pops up in a very original animated feature called Boogie (Spanish title is Boogie el aceitoso’the Oily One) produced by Jose Luis Massa and a team of 180 talented people at Illusion studios out of Buenos Aires. Massa, who is also the president of the studio, helmed Illusion’s box-office hit Patoruzito, which sold a record 2.5 million tickets in Argentina in 2004.

‘Boogie is one of those absolutely violent hired killers that you can’t stop rooting for,’ explains Massa. ‘He’s always on the run and follows his own rules’He may remind you of the the Jean Reno character in the movie The Professional. Everything about him is almost inhuman’he’s a violent, chauvinistic and sadistic character’and the film definitely features a storyline, music and images targeted to teens and adult audiences’women, alcohol, bullets’it has it all!’

Working with an estimated $2 million budget, the Illusion team was able to deliver the movie within an impressive 18-month time frame. Massa says one of the pic’s biggest selling points is its cool combination of a strong, witty screenplay with incredible 2D backgrounds and 3D graphics. Boogie was originally created by beloved Argentine cartoonist Roberto Fontanarrosa, who conceived it as an ironic answer to action heroes like Diry Harry back in the ’70s. Boogie found a large Mexican fan base in 1979 when the magazine Proceso began to run his adventures regularly. Not surprisingly, the Boogie movie will be released simultaneously in Argentina and Mexico.

Illusion relied on Toon Boom Storyboard and Harmony solutions to create the smooth 2D animation. Massa says he and his team were considering producing the movie in CG, but after seeing some of the initial tests, they realized that the character had too much of a 2D history to shake. ‘There was something that felt weird about it, so we decided to give it a 2D test as well,’ he recalls. ‘There was its original and unique lines’just like we’d seen in the comic strip, and there was no comparison. That’s what we worked for: We wanted to have a film that looked different and was unique artistically and stylistically.’

Director Gustavo Cova adds, ‘The original comic strips are black and white’with very strong and rough lines’almost no backgrounds, reflecting the amazing simplicity and talent of Boogie’s creator. Though we wanted to keep the expressive roughness of these designs, there was not doubt in our minds that the film had to go in another direction.’

Cova says they were able to took advantage of their resources by using cut-out animation and creating highly elaborate backgrounds. ‘The backgrounds are almost photographic,’ he notes. ‘Then we also opted for realistic composites, creating a context of dark action films’with an explosion of colors. The movie is set in the 1970s, and that gave us the possibility of playing with different styles, depending on the context of each scene, allowing us to create parodies of various aesthetic styles from that era.’

One of the team’s biggest challenges was being faithful to the traditions of film noir while exploring new animated territories. ‘It was a huge challenge to pursue this style of filmmaking’characterized by elements such as cynical heroes, stark lighting effects, frequent use of flashbacks, intricate plots’while creating an animated movie that looked different and unique,’ notes Massa. ‘But we’re very proud of the fact that we were able to reach our goals.’

In a twist that brings new meaning to the term killer production, the Illusion Studios team literally got a chance to be part of Boogie’s animated reality. As Cova explains, ‘During this ultraviolent climactic scene, Boogie starts shooting in all directions at these villains who appear out of nowhere,’ says Cova. ‘We suddenly found ourselves running out of extras as they were all killed already, so we had to quickly get to work and draw many more characters: Each new extra is actually someone from our production crew’animators, the executive producer, company staff, etc. If you watch it frame per frame you’ll find me with my head all blown off and only a molar’that’s all that’s left of me!’

Although the studio’s loyal staff is massacred in the movie, the flesh-and-blood Illusion Studios continues to put Argentina on the animation map year after year. ‘I guess we live, work and dream about this moment,’ says Massa. ‘It’s the best thing that could happen to us. This studio was created to bring new things to audiences all over the world. Although our market is small right now and our company will focus on trying to bridge new territories by co-producing with others, we’ll keep working on releasing a new, original animated feature every year.’

To learn more about the movie, visit www.illusionstudios.com and boogielapelicula.com.