For the Dutch readers: Ton is one of the guests in BNR Digitaal, a Dutch radio program to talk about Gooseberry.
Update: the show is over, you can listen to it here.
Update 2: Bart Crouch has provided a full transcript of the interview in English. Read it below.
Host: Disney and DreamWorks pay attention! You will get a competitor in the field of 3D animation films. That competitor works with Dutch open source program Blender 3d. Blender Foundation coordinates the development of the software and is raising money to make a feature film. Ton Roosendaal, the founder of Blender is here. Welcome. For listeners who do not know, what can Blender do?
Ton: Blender is an animation program. You can use it to create 3D animations, actually I should call it computer animations. You can use it to make games, but the most important thing is film. Animation film or visual effects.
Host : Yes, and you have already made a lot. A few titles that people can enter on YouTube: Big Buck Bunny, Elephants Dream, Tears of Steel and Sintel. They are in fact wonderful cartoons, so look them up. And there already is a teaser for a new movie: Gooseberry. Part of it sounds like this:
<sound clip> Hi, my … my name is Michelle. Everything is confused. <..> Hi boss. Well I, I might be. I’m a sheep. No, I want to go home. [music]
Host : This is an excerpt from Gooseberry. Or at least the teaser thereof. For me, it doesn’t make much sense, but perhaps that is the intention. We see all kinds of beautiful images , including a sheep in freefall. It is in an identity crisis, because he has to think very long before he knows he's a sheep. What kind of movie is this really going to be?
Ton: We have set ourselves a very special goal. That is to make a movie with the global community of Blender users. Not so much as a crowd-sourcing in which everyone can collaborate, but we have found twelve teams . These are companies, young start-ups (5 to 10 people), which are already working for a while. We will collaborate with them. But because each group has its own style, its own qualities, it is more efficient to allow them to work within their own style. For example, the film must have something such as a manga-style, which is done in Indonesia. Or in Australia or in the US or Finland, or the UK. Everywhere there are groups that work very differently. So the writer and the director were asked to develop a story in which this makes sense. He came with a sheep, so the main character is a sheep, who lives on a beautiful island. Everything is beautiful and amazing, but he is really bored. He says: I want an interesting life. The story then develops a bit like Monty Python. He meets someone, a seller / a sales manager. Who says: I'll give you a great life. Even better, you can try it for five minutes. If you do not like it, you just come back. So he becomes stuck in a sort of loop of very interesting lives. But he does not want to have an interesting life! That’s what he finds out, he just wants to go back. In all of those interesting lives he finds a friend, a girl who is also stuck. Together they try to get out and return home.
Host: That sounds very exciting.
Host 2: Yes, such a life is interesting. I wonder < .. > I hear your story < .. > By the way, I'm going to Monty Python in July. Great fun. But what are doing with your initiative , what does it add to the possibilities of people who are currently making 3D movies?
Ton: Do you mean for users? People who make movies?
Host 2: No, < .. > we concentrate just on the makers < .. > told the story. That is clear. But wouldn’t you be able to do this without crowd-funding or crowd- sourcing? Or do you think that's impossible?
Ton: That is really impossible.
Ton: As it goes <interrupted>
Host 2: What exactly do you need money for?
Ton: You can calculate it. If you look at what a minute of animation film costs. In the US they easily spend 300 man-months of work for 1 minute.
Host 2: 300?!
Ton: It costs a lot of money. That is why a movie costs 200 million or so. We do not need 200 million. We're going to try to it with 10 to 15 man-months per minute of film. That is very little, but just sufficient to be able to do it. However, we then still need a budget of 2 to 6 million.
Host: But can’t you choose to give the pitch of the sheep, as you told us so vividly, to a Hollywood producer? Why not?
Ton: What you get then, if you know how the movie business works < .. > Of course you can sell your rights and try to find distributors and major studios. What they do is buying things outright, making you lose things. You've lost your say. The creators have no more power. And if any money is going to be made, it will of course go to the studios.
Host: You have a certain ideology when it comes to rights? May I say it like that?
Ton: We hold all rights ourselves. But we also make agreements with the creators. Anyone working in the film shares in the profits. Everyone is really an owner. This is an open-source principle. If you're working on an open-source program, everyone is co-owner of the program. You cannot sell the program.
Host: Is this the difference between a responsible cartoon and a non-responsible cartoon ?
Host 2: That is a conscience question ...
Host: Yes , why not?
Ton: For you as a viewer, it might look exactly the same. For example, it can be broadcasted on television, you can watch it and you can enjoy it.
Host: What goal do you have? Is your goal to show Hollywood: this is Blender , it's a wonderful product, start using it.
Ton: Yes, among other things. It's not so much that we have a message for Hollywood. But Hollywood has a message for us. That message is. .. now take look. < .. > Film is the most beautiful thing there is. Animation film is really our passion. We simply want to create it. How could we produce film, with open-source software, in a way that we can pay our own bills? That's what we're trying to develop. If you go to the US, only 1 in 1000 people have the luck to be working for Pixar. The rest has to wait.
Host: If you do not get the money. Those two million, or six million, or whatever it should be. What then? Too little money.
Ton: No, we have done this a few times already in the past. We know that if we are able to collect about 25 to 30 percent of our budget with crowd-funding, then the rest will automatically follow.
Host: People who want to donate, they go to ... ?
Ton: They go to: blender.org. That is the easiest to remember.
Host: Incredibly easy. Thanks Ton Roosendaal of the Blender Foundation.