2013: Year Of The Black Cat!!!

(I know it’s really the year of the snake, but that didn’t quite fit, you know?)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone — 2013 feels fantastic already!!! A friend of mine recently shared this wonderfully motivating thought: this will be a year of polarization and determinations … a time to either break-down or break-through.

I really, really like this sentiment.

After the past year of set-backs and frustrations, I am ready to break-through and conquer! :)

In that spirit, please enjoy the following Videoblog that contains updates and a few interesting tidbits, along with a tantalizing snippet of my video interview with Mr. Neil Gaiman (himself) –check it out!

And as I explain in the video above, I am also making available — for a limited time — the original, full-length animatic of The Price as a way to thank you all for your patience, perseverance, and your seemingly endless supply of goodwill. Please relax, turn up the sound (and dim the lights), click on the link below and enjoy it while it’s here!!! :)

About Xtopher

Director of The Price, and Owner/Creative Director of Silver Fish Creative, LLC.
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91 Responses to 2013: Year Of The Black Cat!!!

  1. Cat Mihos says:

    this is wonderful!
    i forget that not everyone has seen this original piece–
    thanks so much for your gesture–
    xoxox & happy new year to your family, @Xtopher!
    love, Kitty

  2. David says:

    Thank you for sharing both videos with us. My son and I have enjoyed watching what you created. You’re a very talented and gifted artist and I hope this is the year that the black cat is protecting you.

    I like what you have done and cannot wait to see the final product.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thank you, David — so glad you and your son are enjoying this together!!! :) (My Dad was great at sharing my interests too!) This is definitely the year…

  3. Trevor Rotzien says:

    Thanks for the update! Your videoblog #5 is a multi-level story in and of itself. Hold fast to the dream – not overly to the how or the when. This is so high on the cool scale – it’ll be worth waiting for.

    • Xtopher says:

      Hah — I love it, being “high on the cool scale” is a terrific place to be! Thanks for the continued kindness, my friend!

  4. Always good to see your cheerful face and to hear some news! Glad to see you feeling positive in the new year. And thank you for posting the full animatic. It was great fun to watch, and I’ll be sharing that with several people, including my mother (who was kind enough to contribute with me during the kickstarter after I told her how strongly I felt about the project).

    I also somehow totally missed the whole Castle Gaiman trailer, so that was awesome to hear about as well. Something else to look forward to. Is this going to be something you do completely separate from the film, or just an extended extras project to include with it? I wasn’t quite clear on that. I’d buy it as a separate edition, really, as I’ve always been curious about Neil’s house and animals (being an animal activist myself).

    Keep the faith. Still love what you’re doing, and all struggles aside, I know things will be worth it for you and for all of us eagerly awaiting to see what happens at the finish line. Much love, friend.

    • Xtopher says:

      Michael, always so good to hear from you, brother! :) I am so pleased you got to see the Castle Gaiman piece; yes, I am thinking of doing something a little more elaborate and special with the material I’ve collected that I had originally intended. It is too early to go into detail just yet, but it will definitely be available to all of the current supporters of The Price, and may also prove to be a way for others to become involved (as of yet, I do not have the ability to sell the final film).

      I will always keep the faith, and am deeply grateful to have made friends like you in the process of doing something I love. No matter the setbacks, a way through will always reveal itself if you stay focused on your goals.

      All the very best in 2013, Michael!!!

      • And to you as well, mate! I’ve got my fingers crossed for a lucky 13 for us both (must be the callánach old unlucky Irishman in me). I’m excited for the year. And great to hear about Castle Gaiman, I’ll definitely look forward to hearing more down the road!

        • Xtopher says:

          Nice, abstruse word usage there, buddy! :) FYI for anyone reading this: callánach = loud (and yes, I had to look it up).

  5. That was wonderful! Thank you for sharing that. I’m as excited as ever to see the final product. Knowing that you care so much about this project that you want it done right makes it easier for me to wait. Keep up the good work!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Sandy! I’m glad that you can sense what this project really means to me — and I appreciate your kind words!

  6. Suzi (Elizabeth) Skutley says:

    Glad you posted. I’m even more excited now and look forward to the finished film. Hope 2013 is a very good year for you!

    • Xtopher says:

      Hey Suzi (Elizabeth), I know it will be a great year — ‘cuz I’m gonna make it that way!!! Stay excited…

  7. Hello, I just wanted to drop a line & say it is always inspiring to find someone else not giving up on a tough project that they started. 8 years ago I began a rather post heavy feature film & often I question what is the point, so many others have finished better things in shorter time periods with less money involved (my project is mostly self produced). I have wanted to give up so many times (& I probably still will) I am not curing cancer after all. I love reading your production blog & see that somewhere out there someone is having as much a hard time as I am but chooses to set the negative stuff aside. The hardest is working with people. For me it has been like going through so many heart breaks… people come in & support the project but for one reason or another they leave because real life calls on them & I couldn’t get angry or demand more time since they were doing me a favor to begin with… and then there are those who I have hired & we have a rather professional relationship, & they still let me down… missing deadlines or quitting… it’s like being the captain of a ship crossing a big ocean & my ship has many holes & the crew keep leaving on jet packs. Anyway… great stuff! Soldier on!

    • Xtopher says:

      Well Avid, I truly hope that something you may see or hear regarding The Price will lift your spirits a little & keep you inspired to not give up. I agree, people can be the hardest thing about projects like ours, but as film is a highly collaborative art, we have to believe we will find a way to achieve our goals. Some of the particulars of my production problems that were personnel-based were literally beyond believing! And yet, there are the positive relationships that more than counter-balance the bad, and have far surpassed my expectations…so please don’t abandon your ‘craft!’ It is a rare & precious thing — both the distinctive vision you bring to your art, and the hope you use to keep it alive. Let’s both make 2013 be our very best year!!!

  8. Neta says:

    Wow! You broke my heart there at the end–the two of them staring into one another’s eyes…. I actually cried a bit. Thanks so much for such an awesome New Year’s gift! I’m really glad I was able to be part of your Kickstarter campaign.

    • Xtopher says:

      Everyone needs a good cry to start the year off right, er, right? :) So glad you liked the animatic & very grateful for your support, Neta!

  9. Colin says:

    Don’t give in to despair or naysayers, and keep on plugging away. We trust you!

  10. James Nanawa says:

    Really enjoyed the animatic preview and psyched for the final version. Last year a black and white cat lingered around my yard which always had me thinking about your project and Neil Gaiman’s story. Keep up the great work and have a blessed New Year!

  11. Dimmi says:

    Wow. Sir you have certainly made this a happy new year already. Watching the animatic gave me goosebumps and thinking in the back of my head this is going to be much better when you are done.
    Sir keep up the great work. I may be tough at times but in the end it will be well worth it.

  12. Krys says:

    Been feeling particularly down and tomorrow is my birthday. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Certainly gave me something to smile (and have a good cry) about.

    • Xtopher says:

      So sorry to hear you were feeling down, but very pleased that this wonderful story helped chase those blue-tones away! Chin-up, Krys — and Happy Birthday!!! :)

  13. Trevor says:


    Amazing, as always. I’m glad you had the chance to release the animatic for “the masses” to show the beauty of your vision.

    We are your Black Cats, guarding you against The Devil so you can bring this wonder to it’s final glory.

    If there’s anything you need, from a kind word to a captive audience, let me know.

  14. ivoree says:

    Great to see this animatic again Chris. I’m very excited to see the film progressing and very proud to be a producer on it. The animatic is so damn gorgeous and moving I can’t imagine how wonderful the finished film will be. I envy you this challenging but worthwhile journey. The treasure that awaits at road’s end will be magical.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Ivoree; and not to sound trite, but I am very much enjoying the journeying part as well, and finding great rewards along the way (bumps & ditches notwithstanding).

  15. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for the update! I love that you posted the animatic! It is wonderful. Don’t get frustrated… just keep plugging along. We can wait! I am so excited. Than you again.

  16. Cathryn says:

    This is such a wonderful video! I really enjoyed it, and it gave me chills.
    I have to ask, what is the music that you used from? That last song in particular sounds so familiar. It’s really gonna bug me the rest of the night.
    Anyway, I wish you good luck on your project! Keep up the good work!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Cathryn! The temp tracks I pulled from lesser-known parts of a film score by James Newton Howard (one of my favorite composers), and is one of the reasons why I can’t keep the animatic online permanently. :(

  17. chinyean says:

    Holy! the devil definitely scared me! thank you so much to let us watch the original animatic 😀 it catches the emotions of Neil Gaiman’s story perfectly

    • Xtopher says:

      Why thank-you Chinyean –I had to laugh at how you used “Holy” and “devil” together like that! :) It was thrilling for me to have found a story that contained so many diverse elements, with some genuinely scary moments that lead up to such a moving conclusion.

  18. Michela says:

    Thank you so much for this update, the videoblog and the whole animatic, it’s amazing!!! I am so looking forward to the final version, as this first one already is so cool and touching! :)
    I wish you a great, special year, and a great, special Black Cat to protect you and this project!
    Keep up with the positive thinking!


    • Xtopher says:

      You are welcome Miki, and I will most definitely keep it positive. BTW, the cat that protects our house is actually a beautiful gray long-haired beauty by the name of ‘Trinity’ (her brother, ‘Neo,’ used to live with us as well, but sadly he went into the Matrix several years ago).

  19. Rebecca says:

    This is amazing! You have made this story really come to life! Will this be available to buy on DVD?

    • Xtopher says:

      Thank-you Rebecca. Here’s the thing: as of now, I do not have the rights to sell the finished film, but I can give copies as rewards to those who contributed to the making of it. I used Kickstarter initially, but you can support the project anytime by clicking on the PayPal button on the top, right-hand side of this web page. I am still using the same reward system as I did for the Kickstarter backers (you can see the list by going to my project page here even though the fund-raising portion is no longer active).

      I am hopeful that at some future point I can make both The Price and Castle Gaiman available to everyone, but I hope that answers your question for now. :)

  20. Gerrit says:

    Thanks for sharing the vid. It really does capture the mood reading the story gives me.

    One small critique: the moon (probably) is wrong :)

    • Xtopher says:

      Hah — nice catch, Gerrit! (And cool article as well.) I’m just one of those artists that wants it to look cool, and don’t care too much if you can’t deduce what season the story was set in, or what time the devil actually arrived at the house, you know? 😉 But rest assured I’ll take it into consideration, my friend! :)

  21. Trish says:

    As always, I am excited to see the notification of a new post from you. Thank you for taking us along for the ride Christopher–it makes the project, and will make the final product all that more special.

    I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!! I am cheering you on every step of the way and doing what I can to extend the reach of this project through my social media networks. Your work, the work of your team, the art, the craft, your vision–they deserve to be seen and heard by as many people as possible.

    And the great vibes surrounding you and this project–I’ve gotta think most people resonate with that.

    And I have no doubt you will kick butt this year based on what I’ve see so far.

    Much love,

    • Xtopher says:

      And, as always, I deeply appreciate your heart-felt support and encouragement — those ‘great vibes’ come from people like you! :)

  22. Kathy says:

    I was a small kickstarter contributor and have sat here all these months quietly reading your interesting updates, not commenting, as is sort of my style. I’ll say now I have never been disappointed in the amount of time this is taking and, on the contrary, have found deeper interest. Some projects are smooth, some are bumpy. That’s life, eh? The fact that your project is so public is the only difference here and it has given us the opportunity to see your sides of grace, kindness and creative perseverance. I suspect this project will have a deeper flavor for all of us because of that. It has certainly done that for me. Thanks for making me proud to have had an instinct to contribute.
    Wishing you a rich 2013. I’m putting in a request for a smooth year ahead for you! But either way just want to say thank you for keeping on with the work. Very inspiring.

    • Xtopher says:

      My thanks for sharing your observations and thoughts so eloquently, Kathy. And I do suspect you’re correct in that opposition and resistance can definitely deepen the ‘flavor’of one’s work (and life, for that matter). I’m grateful for your request of a smoother year, and that you will be there, quietly watching (as may be your style). :) All the very best this year!

  23. Josh Catone says:

    I’ve now backed over 85 projects on Kickstarter — this was my third, and it remains unquestionably the one about which I am most excited. It’s not even really close. Thanks so much for your continued work on this. And thank you so much for putting the full animatic online. It is beautiful in its own right.

    Two questions:

    1. Do you have any plans to include it on the DVD? I imagine licensing might be a headache.

    2. Where did the original audio of Mr. Gaiman reading The Price come from? Was it from an audio book version? (Follow up: Is that the audio you’ll use for your version or did he re-record it? I have a feeling you’ve already answered this many times in the past, so apologies in advance for pestering. ;))

    • Xtopher says:

      Hey Josh — I’m glad you are still excited, and very impressed that you’ve generously helped so many others to chase their dreams as well! To answer your questions (no apologies necessary):

      1) I would very much like to include the original animatic on the final disks, but yes, I’ve been assured that trying to license the music I used would be a complete and utter nightmare, so … we’ll have to wait and see.

      2) That version of Neil’s narration is indeed from an audio book called Speaking In Tongues (and here is the obligatory Amazon link). I hope that helps! :)

      • Josh Catone says:

        Thanks, Christopher! It seems the most common unanticipated cost producers of film projects I have had the privilege of backing on Kickstarter run into is licensing. One of the documentary projects I’ve been following has just had to launch a second Kickstarter to attempt to pay for archival footage that turned out to be more costly than expected.

        Happily, you shouldn’t have to deal with that particular headache for The Price (since, I as understand, everything you’re doing except for the story is original — and you’ve already got that licensed!).

        Thanks for the Amazon link. I had the opportunity see Neil Gaiman speak on a panel last month (with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neri Oxman — it was a nerd fantasy panel). His voice is definitely made for this. :)

        • Xtopher says:

          He has the best voice — I can’t imagine hearing anyone else read his work! And hearing him do it live…it’s like nothing else, my friend! :)

  24. Debbie says:

    Of course I support you and want you to be happy with what you create, but you didn’t give even an approximate indication of how much longer you expect the project to take. Is it at least likely to be within 2013?

    Thanks for letting us see the original animatic again. :)

    • Xtopher says:

      Well, that’s the problem, Debbie; yes, 2013 is the goal (and before September so that I can get it into the Sundance Film Festival), but last year I also wanted to be finished — yet with all of the unforeseen incidents that occurred, it radically altered my timetable in a drastic way! I am hugely optimistic about 2013 however, and will move heaven and earth to get it done…sound good? 😉

  25. Court says:

    Christopher, that was beautiful! I’ve loved this story for years, and Neil has such a beautiful way with words and story, and that is amplified and enhanced by your beautiful art and visual telling of the story. I love Mr. Gaiman’s love of animals, and the tenderness this story shows. I’m very excited for this; thanks for sharing the animatic. I also understand your frustrations, as I was an animation major and the computer stuff was where I failed miserably, and I can fully understand the troubles with rigging, etc. So keep up the brilliant work–I have great faith in this project and in your determination.

    Happy new year!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Court — it is comforting to know that you truly can ‘feel my pain.’ :) And I’m hoping many people like yourself will appreciate seeing the progression from animatic to final film (I always love to see that kind of behind-the-scenes material & find it highly inspiring).

  26. Lynne says:

    Technology does have its costs and benefits. You can create such wonderful images, but there is, dare I say it, a price. Following your posts and videoblogs, I kept flashing on an image of you finally driven to madness and creating The Price Ed Wood-style with models and strings. Hey, wouldn’t that make a great DVD extra!

    • Xtopher says:

      Hey Lynne — so great to hear from you! And yeah, sometimes I worry about driving myself round-the-bend as it were…but truthfully, it has been a wonderful journey so far, and I am learning & growing so much! I suppose that’s not quite as dramatically satisfying as the DVD extra you were envisioning, is it? 😉

  27. Jordi says:

    Have a great new year Xtopher.
    This was the first project I backed on Kickstarter, and I’m really looking forward to the result. That you are taking your time with it only means the end result will be even better.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Jordi — although I’m really not taking this long purely by choice, you understand! :) We are ready to get things moving!!!

  28. Jamie F. says:

    Wow, what an unexpected and wonderful surprise to be watching this latest videoblog and suddenly hearing my name announced as the winner of your X-Mas contest! Your generosity and positive spirit has been demonstrated throughout the journey of this project and once again with the sharing of this beautiful and fittingly eerie animatic. Thanks for everything and all the best in 2013!

    • Xtopher says:

      Hah — you are most welcome, Jaime! And you were pretty ‘eerie’ yourself with your hyper-accurate action figure recognition ability (HAAFRA)! 😉 I’ll be sending you some goodies in the near future!

  29. Knox Blevins says:

    Chris, this is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The Price has been one of my favorite stories from Neil Gaiman since I first started reading his work. I can’t wait to see the finished project!

  30. Thank you for sharing the animatic with us. It’s so beautiful it made me cry.

  31. Joe K says:

    I’d been deliberately not looking up the story, reserving its full impact for the final production… but I’d never seen the full animatic (only the brief please-support trailer) and gave in.

    Not that I had any doubt at all, but this re-confirms that we chose well when we decided to back this project.

    Using blue to suggest “blue pencil” — I didn’t pick up on that until you mentioned it in the update. Makes sense.

    I assume that the work involved in cleaning it up so you could share it with us on a longer-term basis would be excessive, but it would be nice if the animatic could be included with the final DVD. It’s an excellent illustration of how one begins establishing the look, and flow, of this sort of project.

    • Xtopher says:

      Glad you gave in, Joe! :) Really, the only thing that would keep me from including the animatic on the BluRay/DVD would be licensing issues; other than that, I agree that it provides an interesting comparison with the final product and illustrates the creative process in a unique way.

  32. Gisele Perreault says:

    Just finished watching everything I could. So deeply cool! I could cry for the Black Cat…
    Worth waiting for no matter how long it takes!
    Thank-you so much for the sneak peeks!

  33. Marie Gravelle says:

    Beautiful – the cats look so real!

  34. Becca says:

    Hello! I came across this from a link on tumblr. I have not read the book but I love cats so I figured I’d watch it. It is getting late and I am halfway through so I will finish it tomorrow. It is really good!

    • Xtopher says:

      Cool Becca…although I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a tad bummed that the film couldn’t manage to hold your attention a wee-bit longer — it is only 16 min. long after all. 😉 Which reminds me: I’d better make myself one of those Tumblr things…

  35. Joanna says:

    Really happy to have the opportunity to see the animatic. It really sells the idea and tone beautifully. And I love your choice to break the storyboard form and go all-out with renderings of the first time we see the devil – incredible moment. I had been waiting to get any details on the film because I haven’t yet read Neil’s story and I didn’t want to be spoiled – man, this is a heartbreaker! If the animatic was that powerful, I can’t wait to see the finished piece.

    And I’m with everyone else on supporting you – hang in there and keep working at it, day by day, little by little, and it WILL get done! If you keep working on it, it has to get done! There’s no other outcome! :)

    Also just reinforced my excitement for Castle Gaiman! I can’t WAIT to see it!

    • Xtopher says:

      It is heart-wrenching, but in a really good way. (I remember actually feeling horrified after putting together the shot of the cat with the fresh scars along its body and clumps of hair strewn about the porch.) The scene with the devil model was my first attempt at realizing things in 3D, and although it is effective, the final version will be much more compelling! :)

  36. Tash Francis says:

    Thank you so much for letting us see the animatic, it’s something I’ve been wanting to see since the start. A wonderful gift :) I can see why Neil Gaiman and his team were convinced. I love how you treat The Price – you enhance the magic of an already great and thought provoking story – hard to do! Very best wishes for you and the production. All your incredibly hard work will pay off. It will be amazing going by all we’ve seen so far and your great attitude. Happy New Year!

    • Xtopher says:

      Very kind of you to say, Tash, and I’m humbled that you feel I may have added in some way to your enjoyment of this story that means so much to us (and to so many others).

  37. William James says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. When this project is finished, had its run in theaters, and you are contemplating releasing the DVD/Blue-ray, please include this version also.

    • Xtopher says:

      You are most welcome, welcome welcome, Sir William!!! :) And as mentioned somewhere else in this thread, I hope to include the animatic with the final collection, but we will just have to see how various licencing issues pan-out at that point — but fingers firmly crossed, nonetheless! Hope you’re having a great new year!

  38. Donna says:

    Ok I’ll own up … it made me cry! This will be so worth the wait, glad to see you are staying true to the original. I’m proud to say I helped to back this :)

    • Xtopher says:

      Well, don’t feel bad, Donna — a lot of people have cried (it still gets to me too)! Thanks for your encouragement!

  39. Nicoletta says:

    Wow, the animatic is amazing. Specially the cat. You gave her no “humanlike” expressions and still she seems to communicate, exactly as cats do.

    Really looking forward to the finished movie :). I just have one little question: Is it still possible to give more money and therefore qualify for a bigger Kickstarter reward? Originally I spent 50, but now I’d really like to get the Blueray and also the Castel Gaiman documentation in it’s fulls length.

    • Xtopher says:

      I appreciate your comment on the ‘expressions’ Nicoletta; I tried hard to get across The Black Cat’s nobility and determination without resorting to humanizing him. Yes, you can up-grade by clicking the PayPal donate button on the site, and adding a note when you put down the amount information that you want to upgrade to whichever level you want; PayPal then sends me a notification and I put it into the rewards database.

  40. Charlotte J. says:

    I just love your animatic!!! Unfortunately I didn’t see the kickstarter project in time (or I would’ve thrown money at my screen!) but I just wanted to let you know that your animatic actually made me scream for the cat when he was attacked, and I even cried at the end! I think you’ll make a wonderful short film, can’t wait to see the end results.

    • Xtopher says:

      Great to hear about those kinds of strong reactions, Charlotte! :) As I mentioned in the response the comment above yours, you can still help support the film and receive the same reward packages that the Kickstarter backers did by using the PayPal donation button on the site.

  41. Chris, this looks absolutely brilliant. Well worth the wait.

  42. Damian James says:

    Really, really good. Captivated me from the very start to the very end. Even as an animatic it had me gripped, truly. Wonderful, cant wait to see the final piece. I missed your projects on KS

    • Xtopher says:

      Thank-you, Damian! So sorry it took me so long to approve your comment, but it came at a great time for me; I really appreciate your kind words!

  43. Kenny Salmon says:

    This is seriously the best thing I’ve ever seen! I’ve shown this to my friends and gotten amazing responses to the film. We are all so excited to see the final film. Best of luck!!!! You’re the greatest Uncle Chris!!

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