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Film Notes: Lebanon Animator Crafts Video for L.A. Band

  • A still image from Bona Bones' stop animation video for "Over the Moon," a song by the Los Angeles band The Marias. (Courtesy Bona Bones)



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, October 26, 2018

Bona Bones expects the Los Angeles-based psychedelic soul band The Marias to unveil the new video for its single, Over the Moon, within the week.

While the title applies to the quintet’s conflicted love song from the EP Superclean Vol. II, Bones says it also matches the way she felt in the process of creating the animated portion of the video with stop-motion puppets in her home studio in Lebanon.

“They were willing from the start to hand over the creative control,” Bones, aka Danielle Bonadona, recalled this week. “They had some general ideas about how they wanted it to look, but otherwise they let me have the reins. I had a good working rapport as well with the director of the live-action parts. It was one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on.

“They let me run wild.”

Stills from the dreamlike video bring to mind Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s children’s book The Little Prince, with a puppet version of Maria, the band’s one-named lead singer, marooned on the moon, with her four bandmates orbiting around her.

“Even though there are five characters, I used just two puppets,” Bones said. “There’s one of Maria, and then I sculpted four different faces to put on the other one. I was fortunate that the guys are all pretty much built the same.”

Bones, 30, also considers herself lucky to have crossed paths with The Marias, while living on the opposite end of North America. She came to Northern New England in the fall of 2016, under a fellowship to teach animation to students in Dartmouth College’s Department of Film and Media Studies, and wondered at first if she were living and working too far from major metropolitan centers of culture and the arts.

Not to worry, thanks to her network of artists in California, where she grew up, went to school and started her career.

“Somebody I know emailed me that the band had put a cold-call out for animators,” she recalled. “I sent them the link to my website and they ended up calling me.”

The videos page for her website, savethebones.com, showcases work that ranges from commercials for the likes of Ziploc sandwich bags and Purex toilet paper to videos for songs by country star Blake Shelton and the indie bands Jane’s Addiction and the Foo Fighters.

“You never know what projects are coming up,” Bones said. “You have to hustle, working as an artist. It’s finding the balance between work that I enjoy doing and ones that pay the bills.”

Bones finds herself achieving both goals as more opportunities come along to collaborate with musicians and their creative teams. Such projects also balance out the sometimes-isolating effects of pursuing such labors of love as The 3rd of July, the 8-minute animated short, based on her father’s childhood in the San Francisco Bay area, that she released in 2017.

“When I’m working on my own, it can be more frustrating,” Bones said. “As an artist, it’s almost too easy to get in your own head and question your artistic process. When you’re working with other people, it makes it easier to check out of your own mentality, which can be really freeing.

“When I was younger, I was taking whatever jobs came along. Now, I can be a little more decisive about what projects I’m choosing to do.”

Over the Moonand other songs from The Marias are available through Spotify and Bandcamp or at themarias.us. To see examples of Bona Bones’ animation in videos, film and commercials, visit savethebones.com.

What’s Up, Docs?

The Billings Farm and Museum kicks off its ninth annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series on Saturday afternoon, with two screenings of the 2017 documentary Dina. Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury prize for documentaries at that year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie is subtitled A real-life romantic comedy, and is about two adults on the autism spectrum preparing, with mixed emotions, to get married.

The following Saturday, Nov. 3, the museum will show Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the rightly-acclaimed documentary about PBS children’s-TV pioneer Fred Rogers. Subsequent documentaries in the 16-film series include Dateline Saigon on Nov. 10; Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? on Nov. 17; Pick of the Litter on Dec. 29; and Three Identical Strangers on Feb. 16.

Fictional features worth checking out include, on Dec. 1, the wonderful Puzzle, starring Kelly Macdonald and Irrfan Khan, a film so out of the Hollywood ordinary that it’s worth seeing more than once.

Unless otherwise noted, screenings are at 3 and 5 on Saturday afternoons. To reserve tickets ($5 to $11) and learn more, visit billingsfarm.org or call 802-457-2355.

Screen Screams

The ArtisTree Community Arts Center concludes its Halloween celebration at the Grange Theatre in South Pomfret on Saturday by screening Hocus Pocus at 4 p.m. and The Shining at 7. General admission to each fright flick is $5.

■Pentangle Arts unearths The Witches of Eastwick, the 1987 adaptation of John Updike’s novelistic venture into the paranormal, on Tuesday night at 7:30. It stars Jack Nicholson as a devilishly charming bachelor who might be the actual Devil, and three suburban witches played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer. If that’s not enough for you, check it out for one of the great Richard Jenkins’ early roles in a major feature, Clyde Allen, a newspaper editor whose Christian-ist wife suspects evildoing among the principal characters. Admission is $5. To reserve tickets and learn more, visit pentanglearts.org.

Looking Back

If I make it to one of the four screenings of the new documentary Love, Gilda at Town Hall Theatre in Woodstock this weekend, I expect to need extra tissues — maybe even paper towels — as much for tears of laughter at the late comedian’s hilarious scenes on Saturday Night Live as for the sadness over her long, slow death from cancer in 1989. For tickets ($7 to $9) and more information, visit pentanglearts.org or call 802-457-3981.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Film- and TV-related news and announcements also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.