With 66 Awards, Is Attardi the Next Walt Disney?

By Andy Van Roon

Michael Attardi, once a backup place-kicker for the fabled Los Angeles Raiders, looks like he’s on his way back to L.A. in a different arena — big screen animation fables. He’s already broken all records for the greatest number of awards won by a single indie animated film in one year — 66 — and still has 12 festivals to go in his circuit. Writer/director/producer/songwriter Attardi, is the imaginer behind the short, “Once Upon A Christmas Village,” (www.DreamBalloonProductions.com) an animation musical adventure starring Jim Belushi, Tim Curry and newcomer, Amanda Davis, designed to be a prototype for the full length feature version, “Snowyville,” currently in pre-production and set to shoot at Universal Studios in Orlando. The project has been so successful it has attracted Miramax financing vet John Hadity, who now steers the helm for the feature film project.

It has taken all of Attardi’s stamina learned as a former NFL player, as he and team members traveled from city to city on the path to winning at one venue after another. “Once Upon A Christmas Village” has won awards at Cannes (Moving Pictures Magazine Competition), Florence, Italy, WorldFest, Houston, New York, Boston International, Hollyshorts, Hollywood, Swansea Bay, South Africa, Action/Cut, DigiFestival, DC Independent, Delray Beach, Queen’s International, Las Vegas International, Garden State, Los Angeles Children’s Festival among many others, as well as 7 Aurora Awards (Best Director/Animation/Special Effects/Music/Writing/Lyrics/Producer), 7 Davey Awards,

4 Accolade’s for Award of Excellence, and a whopping 11 Telly Awards.

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From Michael Attardi: “This is an article that was written about our project and it comes out of Wales, United Kingdom. SwanseaLife is the largest magazine in Wales and I met the Publisher while I was in Swansea for the film festival back in June. He really loved our movie and decided to do a feature story for his holiday issue.

Swansea is a very special place to me and my family and it brings us much joy to have great friends who live over the other side of the pond.

Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving and I wish everyone the best of health and love.”

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By Hayden Craddolph

One would think that the entertainment news media would be all over a story that involves an independent filmmaker, Michael Attardi who not only surpassed the all-time wins record but, has smashed the record as a non-studio giant. Attardi’s 66th award on the film festival circuit happened at the Queens International Film Festival.  No one can dispute that Attardi’s animation sensation, “Once Upon a Christmas Village,” starring the voice talents of Jim Belushi, Tim Curry, Amanda Davis and you guessed it, Michael Attardi, holds this incredible record-breaking feat. Can you believe that this is his first film?

Let’s take a deeper look at the project; ever since I joined Michael Attardi on the film festival tour this year, one question that always seems to surface was “How did you get Jim Belushi and Tim Curry in your film?” With his humble response Attardi says, “I was very lucky to find two great actors who believed in the project.” What an understatement! Belushi and Curry both knew what they were getting into. They read his script, listened to his music and signed on the dotted line. Don’t think for a moment, that Belushi and Curry didn’t see his concept as a full length feature animation mega-hit someday.  This is why both of these actor’s have survived the test of time. They positioned themselves a role in his feature. That is why they’ve lasted so long in this crazy business. It’s all about trusting your gut! Did I mention that this was his first film?  

Now let’s take a look at the animation; a typical question asked to Attardi was, “How did you make your animation film? It looks completely different and fresh then the same old CGI animation we see from Hollywood.” Attardi response, I have a very creative and talented animation team that thinks outside the box. We mixed a lot of old school techniques as well as new technology that I believe separates our style from the typical Hollywood animation. We use live backgrounds, motion capture and an organic CGI texture to our characters.” Oh by the way, did I mention that this was his first film.

Another question that is always asked during his Q&A sessions is; “How much money did you spend?” To everyone’s amazement as months would drop to the floor. “This film cost us $110,000 to make.” Said Attardi. “Sony Animation thought we spent a Million.” If I didn’t know Michael Attardi so well, I would have sided with Sony Animation. You see, Michael Attardi is just that talented. He raised his own money, wrote the story, starred as the lead voiceover, collaborated on the music, collaborated on the special effects, directed and produced his multi-award winning short animation. As much as he has done, he is still humble enough to give much of his credit to his animation and musical teams. I believe that I’ve mentioned that this was his first film?

Just like Michael, I too have a new approach for the entertainment business. I’ve learned that if it’s not recognizable to the suits in Hollywood, they will not touch it with a ten foot pole. They did it with Orson Wells, Walt Disney, Hanna/Barbara and even George Lucas. They laughed at Disney with his theme park and cartoon ideas.  Tell that to the Disney stockholders who have made a fortune on one man’s dream. Hollywood laughed at George Lucas when he only wanted the merchandising rights for “Star Wars,” as the studio thought they screwed him. Try and laugh at George now and Lucas Films who is sitting on the real empire who struck back.

This was why I thought it was important for me to write this article. Michael Attardi is a needle in the haystack. One day, Hollywood is going to be pricked by that same needle they never looked for to begin with.  Attardi has shown up at their doorstep with a shiny new package that is glowing with 66 awards. They don’t know what to do, so they haven’t opened up the door yet to let him in. Just think about it, why would they? It’s a package they’ve never seen before, well, since Walt Disney. I hope I didn’t forget to mention something important? Oh! Like this was his first film.


Hayden Craddolph- www.haydemfilms.com

By Hayden Craddolph

You may remember the movie “Forest Gump,” when Tom Hanks takes us through a journey of a boy who beats all the odds. That journey was a combination of talent, luck and determination of a man who never feared his challenges but embraced them as if they were his mission in life. Writer, Director, Michael Attardi, has always embraced his own dreams and like “Forest,” has always found a way to rise to the top. Most of you may or may not even know who Michael Attardi is, but his story is one of inspiration and determination that embraces the very essence of hope, faith and charity in humanity. 

A year ago, the domestic and international film industry had no idea who Michael Attardi was either. Now, he holds the title of “Internationally Acclaimed,” and has recently shattered the all-time film festival record with his 64th Award. Attardi’s animated film, “Once Upon a Christmas Village,” starring the voice talents of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry, won three film festivals’s this week in Philadelphia, South Africa and Florence, Italy. With seven more festivals in his circuit season, Attardi has a chance to continue his award winning record that may never be broken.

One would think that Michael Attardi would be flying in the clouds and why not, he’s won the Telly, Aurora, Accolade and Davey Awards to sweep the animated short filmmakers “Quad Crown,” Series for this year. Only five other short animated films had ever achieved this honor and they were films made by Pixar, Fox, DreamWorks and Disney. As if this was not enough, Attardi will face these studio giants as they’ll compete for the 2008 Academy Awards. A feat that may not be obtained since it is driven by high priced marketing and public relations that run in the figures of over a million dollar campaign. The last time I’ve spoke to Attardi, he had said that he does not have that kind of money to stage a serious Academy Awards campaign. Attardi was very humble and proud of his animation team who had helped him receive these honors. “I really believe that my animation team, ran by Jeff Sheetz and my musical composer, Dani Donadi had everything to do with our success. Having professionals like them, joined with amazing talents like Jim Bulushi, Tim Curry and Amanda Davis, creates a recipe for greatness. I really am very humbled by the fact that my peer’s in the animation world has embraced our film for what it was.” Attardi continued, “The support I have had from my friends from Long Branch, Orlando, Hollywood and New York have been incredible. I was able to put together a team, lead by two really great friends Gary Mason and David Ciambrone who not only believed in my dreams but their own dream’s as well. That is what made this film magical. It was never about me, it was always about the story.”

Isn’t it always about the story? Maybe that is why this story was important to tell. Like Forest Gump, Michael’s story will never end. We learn that when the feather falls out of Forrest’s book and fly’s away into the clouds, it leaves us to believe that this is just the beginning of great things.          

The Festival of Creativity, sponsored by Digifest.net in Florence, Italy was the site of an elite arts presentation to filmmakers from across the world. The ten day festival boasted over 50,000 people who came to watch the very best films of the film festival circuit of this year. Long Branch local, Michael Attardi, had not only won the animation category but took home the top prize for “Best of Festival.” This is the first time that an animated film has ever won this accolade.

Florence, known as the birth place of Michelangelo and the Renaissance art period, take art and film very seriously. In fact, only five films from all over the world were chosen in their category. Attardi’s film, Once Upon a Christmas Village starring the voice talents of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry has won almost every top award in the film industry this year.

A year ago, Attardi had an idea to make an animated short film. He found a few investors then put together an award-winning animation team in Orlando, Florida. Now, he holds the title of “Internationally Acclaimed,” and has recently shattered the all-time film festival record with his 57 Th Award win.

Attardi, Belushi, and Curry: Break Short-Animation Film Record with 57Th Award

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Here’s an excerpt of a fantastic review of Dream Balloon Productions’ “Once Upon A Christmas Village”:

“Yes, the makers of Once Upon a Christmas Village went to the Animated Feature Organ Farm, plucked out some nice pectorals, high cheekbones, a good haircut and an ample behind, then threw all the parts in a bag that they made just for you. All those pesky sinewy details — finessing the MoCap, or the character designs, or motivation, or logical setups, or practically anything character-related — have been streamlined on this body so we could focus on the ingredients that have really been making animated features successful all these years. From Robots, here are the fart jokes; from Doogal, the name talent on the marquee; from The Thief and the Cobbler, those Broadway-lite pop songs; from Shark Tale, a tendency for every character to talk like an urban 12-year-old. All of it has been squeezed into a package less than 15 minutes long, which is unmissable viewing for everyone in this industry. Friends, if you make animated entertainment, this film is your flu shot. You miss it at your peril.”

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Dream Balloon Productions Executive Producer, John Hadity, has announced that Multi-Award Winning Director, Michael Attardi’s Once Upon a Christmas Village featuring the voices of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry won the Action/Cut Film Competition for Best Animation marking this the 33rd Award for the film. This comes right after the Aurora Awards announced that Michael Attardi had won six awards at their event.

The Aurora Awards completed the Independent Film “Triple Crown” with the Telly and Accolade Awards also won by the film.

Dream Balloon Productions is in development to produce a full-length animation feature film, “Snowyville” based on the award-winning animated short “Once Upon a Christmas Village” which is slated to go into production in October, 2007.

Los Angeles – Dream Balloon Productions Executive Producer, John Hadity, has announced that Multi-Award Winning Director, Michael Attardi’s Once Upon A Christmas Village starring Jim Belushi and Tim Curry has won the HollyShorts Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for “Best Animation”.

This is the 11th Grand jury win and the 30th award for this independent animation film which will be showing in Los Angeles in September.

Dream Balloon Productions is in development to produce a full-length animation feature film, “Snowyville” based on the award-winning animated short “Once Upon a Christmas Village” which is slated to go into production no later than October 2007.

Posted on Aug 7, 2007 9:59:43 AM

Orlando animation start-up Dream Balloon is ramping up to make its first feature,a musical, Snowyville, based on an award-winning short CG animation they made called Once Upon a Christmas Village.

Director Michael Attardi has added pop artist Nicolosi as a colaborator.

Attardi and Nicolosi met at the Festival De Cannes and realized that they both had many artistic similarities and decided to collaborate on Attardi’s animation project. Attardi has been on the film festival circuit now for several months, winning ten out of ten festivals and twenty-six awards for his short animated film “Once upon a Christmas Village” starring the voice talents of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry.

Attardi, knowing Nicolosi’s work was very excited to work with him and this is what he had to say. “Nicolosi is an extremely talented artist who brings to life a style of art that has become an iconic staple in our pop culture. Nicolosi has a way to make the viewer gravitate towards his canvas, a talent that only a great artist can possess. He’s a genius.” Attardi continued. “We are working on a few after-market high end products that have never been done with animation.” When the two meet at Nicolosi Stars For A Cause art exhibit in Cannes, Nicolosi instinctively knew that Attardi’s film was the ideal project for him to work on. Nicolosi said of Attardi, “Michael is the diamond in the rough, an incredible filmmaker who has taken animation to another level. His story-telling, direction and execution of his work has been recognized and praised by the industry leaders. He’s the next golden boy in Hollywood.”

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By Carolyn Giardina (Aug 6, 2007)

Dream Balloon Prods. is moving forward with the development of a feature-length animated musical titled “Snowyville,” based on helmer Michael Attardi’s animated short “Once Upon a Christmas Village.”

The latest news from the company is that celebrity pop artist Nicolosi will collaborate with production art director Paul “Kit” Stolen and Attardi on several aspects of art design for the film as well as the marketing and after-market properties.

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