The first time I recall Terry Gilliam’s name being used to sell me on a movie it was City of Lost Children, but that was through a critic blurb making a comparison between the Brazil director and City’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. Prior to that, though, he’d actually lent his name as a presenter for their Delicatessen. I might not have discovered those movies without the endorsement. Later, Gilliam also put his name in a similar manner on Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels. As a Gilliam fan, I fell in love with Jeunet’s work immediately, while I’d already been into Plympton and now had more reason to appreciate the animation legend.
I don’t know that Gilliam attached his name to anything before, between or after those two – I’m not counting the BBC TV adaptation of the book The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World, because he also appears in the series. He does, however, have two executive producer credits on upcoming movies, a live-action fantasy from Oscar-nominated animators Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski called The White Circus, and an animation-plus-puppetry steampunk feature called 1884: Yesterday’s Future. Now there’s another project we have to look forward to based on Gilliam’s support: Hallucinaut.
It was just announced today that the director, whose Zero Theorem is currently on VOD and opens in theaters later this month, would present and be an executive producer on Hallucinaut, a 15-minute short written and directed by Daniel Auber. Auber previously contributed conceptual designs for Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and did lettering work on his Tideland. He also worked on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Brothers Bloom, Mirror Mirror, This Is the End, Lucy and Cloud Atlas. As a director, he collaborated with Heath Ledger on the music video for Modest Mouse’s “King Rat,” which they made at Gilliam’s studio, plus he did videos on his own for such artists as Christina Aguilera, Florence and the Machine and The Raconteurs, and he made a short released last year titled Dr. Awkward.
Hallucinaut is heading to Kickstarter soon for a crowdfunding campaign, during which I’m sure we’ll see a bunch of details and art and eventually footage. Here’s what we know about the plot so far: a protagonist named Julio is prone to bad luck so he goes to see a palm reader and through “quantum palmistry” winds up miniaturized in order to travel along his own lifeline and change its course. The visuals will be surreal/psychedelic, the tone absurdist. In keeping the Gilliam crowd happy, it also “aims to deliver on mind-boggling universes, eye-popping visuals, eccentric characters, zany set pieces, and monumental philosophies of a microscopic wonderland.”
Rarely is it that I get excited about a short film in the works, but Hallucinaut has instantly become one of my most anticipated of the next few years. Even if we couldn’t see Auber’s concept art already on Facebook and Tumblr for the time being (there’s also an official website with a logo), the premise alone sounds incredibly imaginative. It’s unclear when the film will be finished, as they haven’t yet begun shooting, but I’m guessing it’s at least a year away from its debut at film fests or online or wherever it’s headed.
For now, watch Dr. Awkward: