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Auntie Claus Comes to an End

In 2013 Athena Studios optioned the children's book Auntie Claus with the idea of creating a stop-motion, musical adventure that taught children about happiness, giving and the magic of Christmas. It was a project that we have been extremely excited about from the first moment it came to us. We brought together an amazing team of people and they worked their magic to bring Sophie and her world to life. It was a story that we felt would resonate with many people and we were overwhelmed by the support during our kickstarter campaign.

We had conversations with major film studios about the project and had lined up an A-list director. Over 50 artists and technicians had come together to create what we felt could have been a charming children's film full of heart and soul.

Unfortunately translating a short children's picture book into a full length feature requires changes to build a larger story and develop deeper character relationships. Athena Studios and the author could not reconcile some of those changes and so, due to creative differences, the Auntie Claus movie project has come to an end.

Athena is currently using some of the various story elements and character designs that were created over the three year period working on Auntie Claus for a new project that we hope to bring to life in the future.

New Media Film Festival 2014

New Media Film Festival 2014

An International Festival based in Los Angeles, the New Media Film Festival celebrates the ever-changing world of new media. Hailed for making "the cutting edge accessible" by Huffington Post, New Media Film Festival judges media across a variety of categories.

The jury includes reps from Pixar, Fox and The Caucus, among others. Awards will be presented at the 5th Annual New Media Film Festival June 10th & 11th 2014.

New Media Film Festival Website »

sophie sketches

Athena Studios Works With Skywalker Sound On Sound Mix For Auntie Claus, Animation Film

Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based company specializing in production services for film, animation, and multimedia clients, is in the home stretch with its Kickstarter campaign to raise funds toward the production of an animated film, Auntie Claus. The Kickstarter campaign will conclude on Thursday, Oct 17, at 5:30pm PT. The studio obtained the feature film rights to the award-winning children's Christmas book by author Elise Primavera over the summer. The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, CEO/Founder, Athena Studios. Please see Kickstarter here.

Peters and Athena Studios worked on the Auntie Claus pitch trailer, featured on the Kickstarter site, with four time Academy Award®-winning sound designer and motion picture editor Ben Burtt, at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm company. Peters and Auntie Claus co-producer Brice Parker recently met Burtt during a chance encounter at Burbank Airport, and shared with him their vision for the film, and the fact that its production could create 200 jobs for the Bay Area film community.

Ultimately, Athena Studios plans the project as a 90-minute, stop-motion animated motion picture. In addition to Burtt, other heavyweight animation industry figures already committed to the production of Auntie Claus include:

Pete Kozachik, Director of Photography: Kozachik has served as DP on "Coraline",, "The Corpse Bride", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". He was involved with the Visual Effects on "Star Wars Episode II", "Ghostbusters 2", "Starship Troopers", "Star Trek IV", and "Robocop 2 and 3."

Tom Proost, Art Director: Proost has served as Art Director on "Coraline", and worked in Visual Effects for "Galaxy Quest", "Star Wars: Episode II", "The Mummy", "AI: Artificial Intelligence", and "The Matrix 2 and 3".

Brice Parker, Producer: Parker is a Pixar Animation Studios and ILM alum and was involved with Visual Effects management on the "Jurassic Park" and "The Matrix" film franchises.

Tim Taylor, Camera and Lighting: Taylor ran camera for "Coraline" and "Frankenweenie", and worked in Visual Effects for "Con Air" and "Back to the Future 2".

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Make: Believe crashes the set of Auntie Claus at Athena Studios

We visited Athena Studios and interviewed the staff about their current stop-motion animation project, Auntie Claus. Jon Peter's Athena Studios optioned the award-winning children's Christmas book, Auntie Claus, from author Elise Primavera, and are developing an animated trailer and pitch package to adapt into a stop-motion film. This film will go out for funding to major studios for a proposed theatrical release of November, 2016.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Athena Studios has gathered a real powerhouse of animation talent from Laika, Mackinnon & Saunders, Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation Studios. Peter's group is already hard at work on the creating the pitch. What's amazing about the Bay area is that he is able to bring people to made films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and Star Wars. Jon's intention is to make sure the work also stays in the Bay area, employing so many of these talented folks already based here.

Their kickstarter program for the production of the stop-motion pitch is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/athenastudios/auntie-claus-the-movie

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Play a role in the creation of a new holiday Classic.
A stop-motion feature film based on the award-winning book Auntie Claus.

Any parent today can attest that there's not enough quality film content for children anymore, and certainly not many films that an entire family - young children, teens, tweens, parents, and grandparents - enjoy watching together. At Athena Studios, we have set out to create an animated feature film that our own kids would be excited to see.

To do that we've optioned the award-winning children's Christmas book, Auntie Claus,from author Elise Primavera, and are developing an animated trailer and pitch package to adapt into a marvelous stop-motion film. This film will go out for funding to major studios for a proposed theatrical release of November, 2016.

Auntie Claus is that rare story capable of bringing families together for a classic movie-going experience. It not only captures the magic and wonder of Christmas, it also communicates a powerful theme about selflessness and personal accountability.

WHY KICKSTARTER?

Hollywood has changed. The old ways of acquiring film funding are disappearing. Even some prominent filmmakers are turning toward crowd-sourcing to help develop their visions AND prove to prospective studios & distributors that audiences exist for their projects.

We firmly believe Auntie Claus can become a treasured holiday classic that audiences will enjoy year after year. We cannot do it without you though. So far, we have paid for everything out of our own pockets, but that is a very limited resource. Your contribution will finance the talent and supplies needed to bring this film to life -- it will help pay the artists who have dedicated months of their time to creating our Animation Teaser, pay for puppet fabrication and materials, set construction, camera and lighting packages, 3D printing, studio time for sound mixing and more.

Auntie Claus: The Movie Kickstarter Campaign »

ATHENA STUDIOS OBTAINS FEATURE FILM RIGHTS TO 'AUNTIE CLAUS',
AWARD-WINNING CHILDREN'S BOOK BY ELISE PRIMAVERA

Emeryville, CA, August 2013 - Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based company feature film rights to the award-winning children's Christmas book Auntie Claus by author Elise Primavera. The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, CEO/ Founder, Athena Studios.

Peters and Athena Studios are actively involved in preproduction on a 90-minute, stop-motion animated motion picture based on Auntie Claus. Several heavyweight animation industry figures have already committed to the production, including:

Pete Kozachik, Director of Photography: Kozachik has served as DP on Coraline, The Corpse Bride, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He was involved with the Visual Effects on Star Wars Episode II, Ghostbusters 2, Starship Troopers, Star Trek IV, and Robocop 2 and 3.

Tom Proost, Art Director: Proost has served as Art Director on Coraline, and worked in Visual Effects for Galaxy Quest, Star Wars: Episode II, The Mummy, AI: Artificial Intelligence, and The Matrix 2 and 3.

Brice Parker, Producer: Parker is a Pixar Animation Studios and ILM alum and was involved with Visual Effects management on the Jurassic Park and The Matrix film

Tim Taylor, Camera and Lighting: Taylor ran camera for Coraline and Frankenweenie, and worked in Visual Effects for Con Air and Back to the Future 2.

Regarding today's announcement, Peters said, "Auntie Claus has been a favorite of my family for years. It has a very appealing story and a strong message. We reached out to Elise Primavera, and were fortunate enough to negotiate a solid deal with her for the film rights. We couldn't be more excited to have been bestowed with the honor of turning her wondrous book into a perennial Christmas-holiday classic."

Adds Parker, "We chose stop motion as the format for this new, upcoming film because it has a fantastic look and feel that we knew would be perfect for telling this story. It can also be extremely cost-effective to produce stop-motion when it's managed properly, and the box office returns of a four-quadrant Christmas film are indisputable. We think 'Auntie Claus' is ideally suited to perform to those expectations."

Athena Studios has already begun a treatment for the book as well as development on character design and animation tests. Studio executives are currently interviewing potential directors for the film, as well as developing a package for funding and Author Elise Primavera said, "'Auntie Claus' was first conceived in the mid '90's, while I was living in New York City. From the moment I first had the idea for the book, I thought it would make a wonderful holiday movie. So when Jon Peters from Athena Studios contacted me at Christmastime last year, and said he loved the story and wanted to adapt it, I was thrilled. I always thought that the visuals of the North Pole, Auntie Claus' penthouse at the Bing Cherry Hotel, her two butler dogs, and the flying elevator scenes would be best represented within the context of an animated film. I was further delighted to learn from Jon that he wanted to make a stop-motion animation picture. I think this is the medium that 'Auntie Claus' was always meant for. I believe the story has tremendous potential to become a Christmastime movie that every family with young children will want to see for years to come!"

ABOUT 'AUNTIE CLAUS: THE MOVIE'

Originally released in 1999 by Harcourt, Inc., Auntie Claus, by author Elise Primavera, is the holiday story of 11-year old Sophie, a girl who is a byproduct of an entitled generation. For Sophie, the true meaning of the Christmas holiday comes from a store and arrives wrapped with a bow. One Christmas, all of that changes when her mysterious Aunt arrives to reveal Sophie's true heritage - Santa is very real, and Sophie's one of the family -- and she's whisked off on a grand adventure to the North Pole and a mission to rescue the holiday for children everywhere.

Auntie Claus is the first in a series of three books by Elise Primavera depicting the adventures of Sophie and her Great Aunt Auntie Claus. For more information, please see: http://www.eliseprimavera.com/books/auntie-claus