Each episode of the Starz hit TV series American Gods (based off Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name) kicks off with a ‘Coming to America’ story. These stories depict the old gods and their diverse stories of immigration to the new world, America. Suffice it to say, it was an honour to be invited to create one of these episode openers.
Underlying American Gods is the history of immigration to America over the centuries and how so many varied people, along with their traditions, transported their beliefs to the new world. In AG, these beliefs are manifest as the thoughtform god-beings that are the central characters in the story and are pitted against the new gods of media, power, and technology that currently rule the world. To get to create one of these ‘Coming to America’ stories in full-up animation was, suffice it to say, a dream project for our team.
The episode ‘Lemon Scented You’ began with our ‘Coming to America’ vignette about Atsula, whose people crossed the land bridge from Siberia 25,000 years ago. In the vignette, Atsula and her dwindling tribe follow their ancient god Nunyunnini to America where they must choose between faith and survival. Atsula pays the ultimate price, but her people wind up thriving.
The film is bar-none the most technically and creatively challenging project we have ever done. On the visual design and concepting side of things, the big challenge was nailing down the unique style and feel of the film. We wanted it to feel very tangible and real, like a stop motion film that could have been made by these ancient people, using whatever materials and tools they would have had access to. Their bodies and clothes are made of raw, unfinished materials like twigs, clay, bone and shells.
Developing the story was also, of course, incredibly important.We had to find the most powerful way to communicate the central theme of the sequence: faith vs survival and adaptation. It’s worth saying that showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are pushing all kinds of boundaries with this series and it is completely daring and visually beautiful. It was truly an honour to be able to work with director Vincenzo Natali so closely and contribute to a TV series that is dealing with issues that are more relevant today than ever.
Behind The Scenes
American Gods | Season 1 | Ep.5
“Lemon Scented You”
May 28th 2017
Bryan Fuller, Michael Green
Kevin Tod Haug
Eliza Randall, Eric Withee, Gayle Busby
Animation Director / CD
Chris Bahry, Alex Torres
Head of Production / Producer
Mary Anne Ledesma
Character Art Direction
Environment Art Direction
Marco Texteira, Ben Bauchau, Michal Lisowski,
Marco Iozzi, Rodrigo Rezende
Head of CG / Modelling Supervisor
Vini Nascimento, Hosein Diba, Fady Kadry,
Victor Hugo, Rodrigo Rezende, Christian Hecht
Environment & Prop Modeling
Christian Hecht, Ben Pilgrim, Lorne Kwechansky,
Rowan Simpson, Sergei Falaleyev
Alexandre Veaux, Sergei Falaleyev
Christian Hecht, Lorne Kwechansky, Brad Husband
Alasgar Hasanov, Rafael Santos, Lorne Kwechansky
Hair and Fur
Alexandre Veaux, Ben Pilgrim
Animatic / Layout
Jen Mackie, Florent Arnould, Alexandre Veaux,
Marcelo Souza, Ben Pilgrim, Will Sharkey
Richard Zyo, James de Carmo
Florent Arnould, Marcin Porebski
Lighting & Render
Brad Husband, Alexandre Veaux, Christian Hecht,
Chris Bahry, Patrick Coffey, Alexandre Veaux, Rob Moggach