Fourteen-year-old Jack Buckley of Louisa will premiere his 87-minute long animated film “Remnants” at the Vinegar Hill Theater in Charlottesville on June 22.
The film, which Buckley describes as an action-comedy tells the story of a young man named Chris and his adopted father Milo as they set out on a quest to stop the evil warlord Purple Sword, who killed Chris’s father 10 years earlier. Buckley wrote, directed, produced and even stars in the film as Chris’s voice-actor.
“It’s exciting to get to share it with people, especially in a theater where movies made by thousands of people are shown,” he said.
Buckley first developed the story for “Remnants” in October of 2016 when he was age 12. He initially planned to create a 16-minute short film which he would upload in installments on his YouTube channel, Mobius Studios. As he began to work on the project, however, he realized that it would work better as a full-length movie.
Buckley did all of the work in creating the film using an open-source animation program called Bender. The world, look and characters in the film are all created in the game Minecraft, making “Remnants” the first feature-length film to use the medium.
For Buckley, choosing Minecraft as the animation style was less about breaking new ground, and more about simplicity.
“With the Minecraft characters, there are only about 15 bones [to move] plus facial movements,” he said. “If you go into a more life-like character, you’d have, like, 50 and it would be a lot harder to animate.”
As the film grew, so did the number of people involved in the project. While most of the animation was done by Buckley, he recruited teenagers from around the country to lend their talents to the film. Buckley’s co-star, Nicholas McCamish, lives in Kentucky and will be attending the premiere. The two will meet in person for the first time that weekend, something Buckley said he is looking forward to. Several other voice actors in the film will be attending the premiere.
In total, nearly 40 voice actors, most of them around Buckley’s age, lent their talents to the project. Among the actors are Buckley’s sisters, Mia and Charlotte. Mia, a 16-year-old singer/songwriter, also wrote an original song for the film titled “To the End,” which will play over the closing credits.
“Just being able to help [my brother] out and make his job easier because he had so much on his plate was really cool,” she said.
Tickets to the premiere are available at http://remnantsmovie.com for $9 plus tax. Attendees will get a complimentary popcorn and bottle of water at the theater.
Following the screening, there will be a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary and a question-and-answer session with Jack, McCamish and other voice actors.
“For him to see his movie on the big screen like that, in front of a live audience, is going to be a real thrill for him,” Rocky Buckley, Jack’s father, said.
Jack plans to continue making movies and hopes to make a living as an executive producer.
If you are unable to attend the premiere, you can see the film on Buckley’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/MobiusStudiosJack) beginning June 29.