On Friday, Sept. 9, the creative team at Burbank stop motion animation studio Apartment D released their long-awaited original short film, The New Adventures of The Blue Mist.
The three-minute video follows an escapade of a young superhero hopeful, The Blue Mist, who seeks to save the declining downtown area of his city. The plucky character attempts to improve the garbage-ridden district by facing off with a hungry raccoon, whom he envisions as a monstrous villain whose defeat will solve the complex issues in his environment.
The genesis of The Blue Mist dates back to 2009, when Apartment D Co-Founders Max Lopez and Sean Malony began to create an outline for the character that sought inspiration from a costume Lopez had donned on Halloween. Over the years, the two continued to form the characteristics of The Blue Mist as they established their animation studio. Other Apartment D members who have come on board over the years, such as Creative Director Cami Kwan, also added to the qualities of The Blue Mist throughout this years-long period.
Other than sporadic snippets of progress, however, the colleagues weren’t able to fully develop their concept until the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020. At this time, they used a variety of gray poster board to construct a set that was finished within a month.
As early as 2015, Lopez had begun taking reference photos of buildings in Downtown Los Angeles like the Barclay Hotel to provide a framework for the New Adventures of The Blue Mist setting. In addition, ‘90s Saturday morning cartoons informed the Art Deco aesthetic of the short film. This includes a classic animated show that was also produced in Burbank, Warner Bros.’ Batman: The Animated Series.
“We liked that atmosphere of [a] dark, gritty, city vibe, and we thought that it would contrast really well with Blue Mist’s bubbly character,” Lopez said. “In a bigger world, he’s a little boy trying to solve big problems that you can’t actually just punch in the face. … If it were to be a bigger story, it’s really idealism clashing with reality.”
The filming of The New Adventures of The Blue Mist took place in increments as Apartment D expanded, and shooting was finished by June 2021. The crew of the short includes talented contributors such as character designer Zoe Serbin, animator Porter Young, and legendary television music composer Ron Wasserman. Wasserman’s iconic music portfolio includes songs that defined some of the most popular cartoon series of the ‘90s like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, X-Men: The Animated Series, Dragon Ball Z, and more.
Around eight years ago, Malony reached out to Wasserman via email, voicing his admiration for the composer’s work and sending a copy of his demo reel. After he viewed the reel, Wasserman expressed interest in working with Malony. Nearly a decade later, this project provided the perfect opportunity for a successful partnership with Wasserman. Lopez describes the collaboration as “a dream come true” scenario, while Wasserman has expressed his joy in working with the “brilliant” crew at Apartment D via social media.
“That was just such an amazing opportunity. [Wasserman] brought so much excitement to it,” Lopez said. “He saw something in what we were trying to do and saw, again, how this little glimpse of a world could be so much more. … He was on board. He was into it. It was our first time working with a true composer, so it was very exciting, if not daunting, for us. But it turned out to be an amazing experience because he is the guy. He is the sound of ‘90s Saturday morning cartoons. So if we were going to make this sound like that, we needed him.”
Moving forward, Lopez says the plan is to present the Blue Mist storyline as a potential ongoing series to television production companies in the area. The short, which is the first original project for the studio since 2015, has set a strong foundation for the character and has left Lopez and fellow animators ready to expand upon their initial artistic vision.
“I do think it’s important for us to get out and pitch this show because we care a lot about this character. We care a lot about this world and also this narrative,” Lopez said. “The bigger narrative is really how small changes can have big effects. And you can start out idealistic, like, ‘I’m going to change the whole world,’ and nobody can do that. But the little things we do can add up.”
In addition to The Blue Mist, Apartment D artists are consistently focused on building new, original concepts that reflect the steady growth of the company. These creators maintain a dedication to producing cutting-edge stop motion animation while staying true to the purposeful content they have a passion for.
“I think while we care about this story and would like to try and put it out into the world, we also care about continuing to make new things and show off what we’re capable of and push what we think we’re capable of,” Lopez said. “We plan to start pitching this soon, and we plan to start just making more or making the next thing. But keep just pushing the visuals that we care about.”
Watch The New Adventures of The Blue Mist here.
To learn more about Apartment D, visit their site here.