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The Blood Pope

For more information about The Blood Pope and to view the film, visit thebloodpope.com. 




Draw blood
Author turns filmmaker with amateur animation

10/12/17
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



 Hollis author and filmmaker Geoffrey James’s The Blood Pope is proof you don’t need professional filmmaking experience or a large budget to make an animated film; he created it on his home computer for less than $1,000. 

“Being able to make your own animated film at this level of quality is something that’s really new, and something that I think I’m pioneering,” James said. “The tools for computer animation are becoming so inexpensive and easy to use that an author like me can make their own movie, just like authors nowadays can publish their own books.” 
James is currently a contributing editor and daily blog writer for the business website Inc.com as well as the author of 10 published books like Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know and How to Say It: B2B Selling. While most of his writing is centered on business and technology, he has done some fiction prior to The Blood Pope, including his historical fiction novel Sorcerer: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist. 
The Blood Pope is inspired by the true events surrounding Pope Innocent VIII in 1492 as he sought the help of an alchemist and underwent a blood transfusion to extend his life. James adapted the script from a short story he had written in a writers group. The story reimagines the historical account with a science fiction twist and surprise ending. 
“I had the transfusion take place with a chemical device with boiling test tubes and gears and things like that, [whereas] in the real story, they have [the Pope] drink the blood, or they got it into his body with a funnel,” James said. “So it’s based on history, but has some speculative elements when it comes to the technology.” 
The Blood Pope has been shown at film festivals around the country and has won awards including the Most Original Animated Film Director Award at the Something Wicked Film Festival in Georgia and an Award of Recognition at The IndieFEST Film Awards in California. It’s now available to watch for a limited time on the film’s website. 
James became interested in animation at a young age, often creating animated flip books in the margins of his school books. After home computers hit the mainstream, he started exploring animation programs. In 2006, James released a feature-length animated film called Borg War, which was the first non-satire fan film to be shown at an official Star Trek convention. 
“What I love about animation is that it allows you to work in all different mediums at once,” he said. “You’re thinking about the words, the characters, the visuals, the movement, the sound and music. You get to create your own world and tell the story in a multifaceted way, and to me, as a creative person, that’s fascinating and incredibly fulfilling.”
James started work on The Blood Pope in the spring of 2015, using the animation program iClone by Reallusion and hiring freelance voice actors to voice the film’s dialogue. He taught himself how to adapt his short story into a script for film by studying the scripts for the first six episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“There are things in the story that, when you go to [turn it into] film, don’t really work,” he said. “There’s a lot of compression because things are too wordy, or you just don’t need as many words because more is told visually. Then, there are some of the original scenes that I had to change entirely because I couldn’t figure out how to animate them.” 
Amateur animation is a great way for authors to bring their written stories to the screen, James said; it’s relatively cheap and simple and allows the author to keep his vision for the film intact. 
“Every author thinks about making their stuff into a movie, but many times [when making a film], there is all this complicated collaboration, and the writer loses complete control,” he said. “Now [with amateur animation], writers can bypass all that. They can tell their story in a new medium, and they can do it themselves.”
James is currently wrapping up a new contemporary science fiction thriller novel and is in the process of creating a trailer for an animated film adaptation of his novel Sorcerer, which he’s considering producing in the future. 





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