Getting a buzz

Vancouver animator Verne Andru has worked for Hanna-Barbera and Nelvana, and now wants to bring his own character Halbert 'Hal' Lighter to the silver screen. So how does a one-man animation studio find the money? Andru's strategy is to build Hal's fan base by publishing his adventures on the web and in comic books, and then, with luck, use the buzz to woo investors.

Vancouver animator Verne Andru has worked for Hanna-Barbera and Nelvana, and now wants to bring his own character Halbert ‘Hal’ Lighter to the silver screen. So how does a one-man animation studio find the money? Andru’s strategy is to build Hal’s fan base by publishing his adventures on the web and in comic books, and then, with luck, use the buzz to woo investors.

‘By establishing Hal through webisodes and comic book sales, I will have already created an audience for the product,’ he says. ‘Meanwhile, since I am rendering the animation layouts in high-resolution color, the preproduction will already be done when I am looking for funds. An audience in place and the preproduction in the can? For investors, it’s a no-brainer!’

Andru has written the screenplay for 420, the would-be feature debut of his lead stoner, Hal, who fights evil with a barmaid and an alien. His next step is to break 420 into 13 chapters. ‘I first ink it in black-and-white, which I publish to the web,’ he explains. ‘I then color the chapter and publish it as a comic book, which is distributed in stores in Canada and globally through Amazon.com.’

So far Andru has spent two years on this project. ‘The first-chapter comic has been shipping since October 2006,’ he tells Playback. ‘I am now working on the second. With the process now ironed out, I expect to pick up the pace.’

If the feature film doesn’t come together, he plans to put all 13 chapters on a single DVD, and to sell direct to the public.

www.verneandru.com