Happy November! Wow, Halloween just flew right by! Even though I've celebrated with lots of spooktastic fun, I still feel like I'm in the Christmas spirit! Why's that, you may wonder? Well as you may know, we recently completed a full length animated feature film called "The X-Mas Files"- a story by Liam Holland about Aliens, Conspiracy Theories, and Santa Clause!
This has been my biggest project yet- the complete running time of this film runs at 86 minutes long and I've been working on the animation for it since July 2015.
Working on this Animation was very similar to working on "Muse: The Animated Series"- I'll make a "Behind the Scenes" Blog post in the future for how the Animation was made- because this Blog is about the adventure of travel!
London, Baby! Haha, yep! We traveled overseas all the way to England to see the World Premiere of The X-Mas Files in theaters! How could I say no? When the Director told me that there would be a premiere of the film at Kinema in the Woods in Woodhall Spa- the first thing I did was go get my passport!
What an opportunity! The chance to fly out to a new country, to watch an independent film that I took part in creating! I would get to explore, see new sights, network, meet the crew in person, and of course, have fun!
We started our journey on Tuesday, October 18th when we went to the airport at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. We did all the basic airport check-in and took the plane out to O'Hare Chicago Airport. From there was our long International Flight to London. I was so excited. I'd never been on an international flight before, but I knew it would be pretty long! (approximately 8 hours to be exact!) I tried to sleep on the plane ride there but couldn't. It was a bit uncomfortable to try and sleep, but it was mostly from the excitement of the journey! London had been pretty high up on my list of places I wanted to travel to!
When we first started to land I eagerly peeped out the window of the plane. I saw the beautiful city landscape. I caught a glimpse of the London Eye and immediately my eyes started to scan for Big Ben, a landmark I've been wanting to see in person ever since I was little. Big Ben was so iconic to me, and 2 of my top favorite Disney Movies- The Great Mouse Detective & Peter Pan, had scenes that took place at Big Ben. I didn't see it as we landed, but I knew it wouldn't be long!
The first day of our arrival was on Wednesday a little after noon. We'd been traveling since the day before and were exhausted. We took a cab and checked into St. Giles Hotel around 2pm and settled in, and before you know it we were sound asleep. We woke up a little later that evening and took a walk outside for a bit, and we ate at our hotel's restaurant. I had to get Fish n Chips with Peas, yum!
Thursday was the day to tour London! I was ready to soak up of London as much as we could, because even though we were overseas for a week, we really only had a day to view the heart of London. I wanted to see as much as we could!
We took the train to from down the street of the hotel to Waterloo. Whew, compared to Atlanta's MARTA, London's trains were a bit confusing at first! After a couple of tries we got the hang of it- I'm sure if we stayed there for a while it would end up being a breeze to travel by train! But we'd have to figure it out the same day to get to where we were heading!
Our first stop was of course THE Baker Street! We took the train to Bakerloo and took the Hop on/Hop off Bus tour of London. First stop was Madame Tussaud's the Wax Museum! We had such fun seeing all the wax figures- they looked so realistic! There was even a Sherlock experience which had actors looking for Sherlock, and a little ride that took you through the history of London! Both of those didn't allow pics or videos, so we just enjoyed them!
Next we hopped on the bus and took a tour- our next stop was the River Boat Cruise to see the London Tower Bridge, and to spot Big Ben along the way! I was in awe of the sights around me. We sat up in the top part of the bus so as to get the best view. I kept looking around for Big Ben, knowing it would be right around the corner, according to the map. Finally the announcement came one "Up next you'll see Big Ben" I gasped when I saw it in the distance- it looked so much bigger in person! As the bus moved Big Ben hid behind some buildings. We got off at the next stop while I skipped to our next destination.
Finally, there it was! Big Ben in all its glory! I couldn't believe it. It was so huge, so beautiful, so intricate. I imagined Peter Pan & Tinkerbell landing there, and Basil of Baker Street & Ratigan having their final showdown. I remembered all the pictures and seeing it on TV, but it wasn't compared to seeing the giant tower sitting right in front of me.
I couldn't be happier, in London in front of Big Ben with my Sherlock hat & pipe! It was like a dream come true!
Next we went on a River Boat Cruise towards London Tower Bridge. I've enjoyed many River Cruises, but never one in London! It was exciting to see all the beautiful sights in the city. Our next stop was going onto the Bridge! That was another favorite landmark I've always wanted to see!
It was so cool to actually be on the London Tower Bridge! The glass floor was a little freaky, though- looking like you're standing in mid-air!
Next was the London Eye! Santa flies right through the London Eye in the movie, so it was cool to be on it! It was different than I expected- I was imagining it more like a sit-down Ferris Wheel but it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be- several people could fit into one bubble with a bench in the middle, everyone taking pictures of the beautiful view. Big Ben looked so gorgeous at night.
With the clock chiming away, we knew it was about time to head home for relaxation. The next day was travelling to Woodhall Spa- where we were going to to have the big movie premiere!
After taking trains nearly all day to get from London to Woodhall Spa (It was a trip from our Hotel, to King's Cross, to Metheringham and a taxi ride away), we finally made it at our Bed n Breakfast Stone House Lodge- ran by a nice man named Steve. We got ready and quickly made our way to TeaHouse in the Woods- it was only a short walk away but we were running a little late- we were heading to dinner to meet Liam- the Director of The X-Mas Files!
Whew, we made it! I finally got to meet the Director & his girlfriend in person! It was a little surreal after only speaking with him online in Email for 3 years! We all had a nice chat, and I had my very first proper British tea! The whole evening was quite enjoyable! After dinner & tea, we took a quick walk to see Kinema in the Woods in person. It was night, but it was lit up beautifully. I couldn't believe it- Kinema in the Woods right there in front of me! It was magical!
Look what the Director got me as a present:
2 beautiful coasters in honor of Clay!
Finally it was Saturday, October 22nd- the big premiere day! The whole reason we had traveled out to England! I was beyond excited, I couldn't wait to see it- it was going to be quite a memorable night! I went out that day into town on my own. I breathed in the fresh fall air and had a nice walk up and down the shops.
It was so neat to see what I'd only seen before in pictures and in cartoon form from the movie. I passed by all of them and stopped for a coffee. I had a little trouble counting out my coins and the coffee guy was very nice, saying "Don't worry, I know how you feel about foreign currency!" Yes, it had to take some getting use to! Next I went down the street to Ashlex Hair salon. I'd made an appointment online, and the lady did my hair beautifully. Afterwards I went back to get ready for the big night. I felt so glamorous!
We walked down to the hotel where the Limo was to pick all of us up. We got to meet some of the other cast that worked on the film too, such as the voice actors & musical composer! It was so neat having us all together from different countries to celebrate such a momentous occasion!
Plus the chance to be in a LIMO! I hadn't been in one since prom and that was about 15 years ago! This one was way better- the lights, the people and the MUSIC! I was surrounded by Muse fans, what a dream! Muse music played while some of us sang and grooved to the tunes. The Director knew how to put on a great music mix!
As the Limo pulled up to the Kinema in the Woods. there was the big red carpet rolled out for us, and a crowd of people who were gathered outside with their cameras out. This was too cool, we felt like movie stars! We stepped out of the Limo and stood on the red carpet to take pictures. I glanced over and was so happy to see the cardboard character cutout of my artwork- Santa, Neil and Noel were right there in front of us! What an honor that this was happening!
We all gathered into the theater. We sat in the back so we could see the movie and all the people who'd arrived. There were so many, the theater was practically full! I was in awe of how many people, including myself, were about to see my art up on the big screen. This was amazing!
The whole movie ended up being more fantastic than I had ever imagined. I'd only seen the clips that I had animated, so I had not yet seen the whole story all put together, with the music, sound effects, and additional special effects. I was blown away! I laughed at all the jokes and references, and was on the edge of my seat at other parts. Clay's voice as the Reindeer had me cracking up, and I nearly teared up at the end when it said "In loving memory of C. Martin Croker"- I'd wish he could have seen this. I looked at the Praying Mantis on my wrist and knew he was there with us in spirit.
After the film, the Director & I got up to the front for any questions, along with the rest of the cast, and we got to say a few things about our roles in the film. Afterwards, we all had an after party celebration with snacks and gifts the Director had for us! We also got to meet the rest of the voice actors, friends and family. It was really cool getting to meet and speak with everyone! The evening was jam-packed full of wonderful memories. I went to sleep that night dreaming of flying in Santa's sleigh with the crew!
The next couple of days were full of relaxing and shopping. We'd already had a week filled with sensory overload, in seeing London, the big movie premiere, and of course all that traveling in between. We were exhausted. The next couple of days we spent in quiet Woodhall, just taking walks, having a meal, buying souvenirs in all the shops, or just sitting inside sipping tea and watching British TV. Because on Tuesday we'd have to make our way back to Atlanta.
So that was my big London Adventure! It's hard to put into words and pictures to do it justice, because experiencing it all in person was beyond amazing. I got to travel overseas to see beautiful sights of places I'd wanted to see since I was little, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people, and the chance to see a huge project I worked on for over a year come to life on the big screen! It was an amazing experience and definitely the highlight of my 2016!
This is only the beginning, Toonsters! Who knows what life will bring, and what sort of adventures await beyond the horizon! I'm ready for anything, and I can't wait to experience all that life has to offer, and what the future might bring! Thanks for reading, you can watch the full video diary of my London travels here!
Blue Skies! Enjoy the Chaos & Stay Tooned!