Laura May Diaries

Laura May Diaries is an adult-oriented animation I created with a number of artists and partners. Think “Sex and the City meets South Park.”

Back in 2010, I created a podcast called Laura May Diaries, it followed the story of Moriah Laura Dreyfus and her self-discovery journey in Cyberspace. Laura is a conservative, neurotic Jewish lawyer who lived a very comfortable life but after a nasty breakup with her ex, Dick, she started discovering her sexuality on the Casual Encounter Section on Craigslist. Laura is surrounded by outrageous characters and hilarious conversations addressing dating and sexuality in modern times.

The characters

Concept art by Jorge Ferretiz

IT ALL STARTED WHEN...

In mid April 2010, a couple of weeks after I uploaded the first few podcast episodes to iTunes, I received fan mail from New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. I didn’t understand how these people even heard about Laura May’s podcast, but then I discovered that it was featured on the New and Noteworthy section on the iTunes store. 

Quickly there after, I realized that I was creating (my dream of all dreams) animation show!

Development

Stepping into this project, I didn’t have any experience producing, writing or supervising animation, but I’ve always had explosive passion for voice acting and animation, and I “swim” really well under pressure, so I jumped into the water head first.

After I structured a general storyline and a character breakdown, I started writing the show’s scripts with my writing partner, Jeremy Scott, who got involved in this project right from the very start. The idea was to create a modern, thought provoking story lead by a female character who started living a liberated life in her 30’s. I wanted to highlight the inner struggles women face in relationships, the work place, family interactions, sexuality and being single when everyone else is getting married and starting families. Laura May represents me and millions of other women who hear their inner voices loud and clear but aren’t always sure if they can trust that inner voice…

Artist Jorge Ferretiz created all the concept art and managed to capture the visual essence of each character.

ENVIRONMENTS

The animation team, headed by Alex Greenberg and show director,Mile Forestersuggested we created 3D environments with flash animation to give the show a unique look. And just like in any other design project I’ve ever worked on, the team kept iterating the artwork till everyone was content with all the details. 

In order to visually balance 2D animation with 3D environments, the team paid close attention to the lighting and colour contrast.  

Casting + Voice Acting

Voice artistry is something that comes naturally to me. It’s the reason why Laura May exists! I was a professional singer for over a decade and have experience in video games, marketing material, commercials, video tutorials. But the one dream I’ve always hoped to make a reality was voicing a Disney Princess -like character. Laura May is close enough only she is a crazy, horny, ridiculous, Jewish princess. Sign me up!

We casted two additional characters at this point of the production – Billy Wickman who played Jack, Laura’s Cat and web designer, and Garett Pitton who played Marcia, Laura’s transgender sister. 

We recorded very short VO clips at Hadron Films to take further into production. The goal was to create short animation scenes and present them to investors. 

I also started writing and recording the music for the show with the help of music producer and editor, Paul Shatto.

The song “Orgasmic Lullaby” illustrates Laura’s dirty thoughts (sang in an almost innocent tone.) Imagine this scene: Laura is sitting on her bed, she’s giggly and happy, getting undressed elegantly when a couple of birds and a squirrel start swaying to the music at her window. 

They all twirl and circle the room in a typical “princess dancing with her animal-friends” routine. Towards the end of the song Laura shows everyone the way out,  she shuts the curtains, lays in her bed, brings herself to climax and falls asleep. 

Storyboards

We were lucky to have artist Peter MacAdams who storyboarded our scripts. He has extensive animation experience and a great sense of humour! 

Storyboarding is a crucial step in creating the flow of the story – the animators use the boards to build each frame. I kept learning from the artists around me and even taught myself a bit of Flash and Premiere Pro to better understand the creation/editing processes. 

Turnarounds

Preping for production we worked with 3 different animators. Budget was super tight but we managed to pull enough character turnarounds to move forward with this journey.  

animation

We created 4 short animation clips that captured the essence of the show to present to investors and get some feedback from the online community. 

Challenges

In April 2013 our team travelled to Toronto to pitch Laura May Diaries on CBC’s Dragon’s Den. It was such an educational, fun, dramatic experience. We got an offer from one of the dragons but after 2-3 months of due diligence the deal fell through. 

This project was full of big and small challenges, most of them were due to my lack of experience producing animation and our very VERY low budget.  

The business aspect was also pretty challenging; animation is a layered and extremely expensive process, there are so many moving parts! Our goal was to raise enough money to produce one full episode independently and then pitch it to Amazon Studios or Netflix, but we weren’t successful raising the funds, and trying to juggle business and art took its toll on me and the rest of the team – we were not prepare, or had enough manpower to get this done properly.

Most importantly, our scripts were not strong enough and that’s a vital component! A show can only catch on and resonate with an audience when the content is well written! 

Next Steps: Laura May is sitting on a shelf right now, waiting for me, and I’ll get back to her when the time is right! BUT the next round of production (whenever it happens) needs to be better planned better written and better produced. Lessons learned!