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The Book in the Field: An Interview with Richard Lee Fertell

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘The Book in the Field’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

This is the third phase of my filmmaking journey.  The first phase consists of 100+ films on measurement science, technology and quality topics made for my day job and are on YouTube. The second phase consists of 75+ films for Healthcare Justice and Medicare For All in the USA.  This third phase began during Covid - when I made the animation film Gnomology from sketches created for a Y2005 recording of four short stories that were to be a printed children’s book.  The second animation film Writing a Wrong was made when my wife fell ill on vacation in Paris; our French friends said the Writing a Wrong film told an important footnote in the History of France.  When the copyright for the Gnomology film arrived on our return from France, I listed Gnomology on FilmFreeway to learn the process of film festivals.  Surprise!  The Best Shorts Competition recognized Gnomology in the IMDb qualifying category of Children/Family Programming.  The Book in the Field film grew out of the plans to make a book suggested by Jean-Luc, my Writing a Wrong film collaborator.


Tell us about ‘The Book in the Field’. How do you describe it?

A children’s story for teenagers and adults.  There is a little suspense and slight horror aspect to this brightly colored animation that has a surprise ending.  Hopefully, the influences of Hitchcock and Matisse shine through as should the positive messages.


Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

Spike Lee raised the bar on films with a message.

Sophia Coppola has created riveting historical and biographical films about the unknown obstacles, challenges and ordeals in the lives of famous women.

Hitchcock set the benchmark for suspense, even with toy sets.

Truffaut perfected the techniques of dislocation and irony.

Hayao Miyazaki creates breathtaking visuals in animation.

Walt Disney brought us full length feature movie animations with a wide range of emotions.

Blake Edwards combined an animation in the opening credits of a feature length movie that is The Pink Panther film series.

Juzo Itami told stories that included social customs with irony and satire with threads connecting seemingly unrelated vignettes within the film; and, he knew enough to have Nobuko Miyamoto star in Tampopo and A Taxing Woman, among other films.



If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?

 A feature-length, hand drawn animation with action (not violence), positive messages (societal, cultural, social justice), and spectacular imagery.


Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

Take time to visualize the script and scenes and how best to create and execute the scenes.

Storyboard, storyboard, storyboard.  Then, storyboard again.

Estimate the time to realize each step.  Then, multiply by three and hope that is enough :).


What was the hardest part of making ‘The Book in the Field’.

Deciding to change the target audience from five year olds to suspense/horror.  The colorization happened on the loosely drawn storyboard sketches before I drew the next versions.  One sketch in particular really shocked me.  After putting a few scenes of the film together, what I saw was a suspense/horror film, instead of the planned book for five year old children.


If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

There are several projects in various stages of development.

*  A micro short animated spy film is being updated with new drawings and improved animation sequences.

*  A short animated mystery film is being developed as the first episode of a series.

*  The script of the first of a trilogy of an animated action/adventure featurette involving the gnomes is going through the review process.

*  An animated series of historical shorts is being written.

*  Two of a trilogy of feature length film screenplays are written in the genre of action/measurement science/technology.


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