Mexico: Up Next! Juan J. Medina, Rita Basulto, Leon Fernandez

Partners at Mexico’s Outik Animation now plan first toon feature

Juan J. Medina, Rita Basulto, Leon
Photo: Leon Fernandez, Rita Basulto, Juan J. Medina

After making a string of award-winning stop-motion animated shorts, Juan J. Medina, the co-director, scribe and lead animator of “Zimbo,” a just-over 10 minute stop-motion cinematographic delight, is now prepping his first animated feature. Guadalajara-based Outik Animation, of which Medina is the founder and majority shareholder, will produce the toon, provisionally called “Ninos Carbon.”

Medina and his Outik partners Rita Basulto, who co-helmed “Zimbo,” and Leon Fernandez, have been scooping up a clutch of best animation short awards for “Zimbo,” and for other shorts they’ve produced, including “El Octavo Dia, la Creacion,” co-helmed by Basulto, who won an Ariel for her solo direction of the moving short about a little girl dealing with grief, “Lluvia en los Ojos.” Medina snagged various awards for the second animated short he directed, “Jaulas.” The partners rotate directing and lead animator duties.

Based on a children’s book by Spanish author Arturo Abad, “Zimbo,” about a boy puppet anxious to break away from his puppet master, is Outik’s second film adaptation of kid-targeted books from Spanish publishing house OQO per a strategic alliance forged in 2013.  Per the agreement, Outik has been adapting a selection of books from the publisher, starting with “El Corazon del Sastre.” Fernandez is currently directing the film version of “Taller de Corazones” as part of the deal.

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Separately, Fernandez is now working on “Los Aeronautos,” the company’s most ambitious animated short in terms of multiple characters, scenes and VFX needs. “We’ve learned to work fast, and surprised ourselves on how efficiently we’ve managed to shave off production time, and yet continue to work within the constraints of a budget,” said Medina. “We now feel ready to make a feature film,” he notd, adding that they’ve allotted a paltry $2 million budget for the 90-minute feature, which in itself is a marvel. Penned by Medina, “Ninos Carbon,” about children working in coal mines, is set in a dark but optimistic 1930s dystopia. Showcasing the company’s prowess in stop-motion, computer and 3D animation, toon “will be set in the future but with a 1930s aesthetic; a retro-futuristic look, if you will,” Medina said.