Tuesday 25 May 2010

TALL STORY, the book trailer : how Random House unwittingly commissioned my family to do my video

Here it is!

One of the big themes of Tall Story (www.tallstory.net) is the importance of family, that geography and culture should be no barrier to family and extended family continuing to be a part of each other's lives.

Some folk say - and not in a nice way - that there are authors who write the same novel over and over again. Well judging by Tall Story (and the three yet to be published novels I've already written) I'm afraid I am one of those authors. And my recurring theme is family ... specifically: the yearning for.

In Tall Story, Bernardo and his sister Andi are separated by immigration paperwork. In Volcano Child, Mouse digs, thinking he can tunnel all the way to the other side of the world where his mum works as a maid in London. In Ugly City, there's a dystopian city state where parents must leave and children must stay.

I guess, though I am a very happy Filipina living in London, and though I adore my adopted country, the books reflect a homesickness that I have come to accept as part of my daily life. And who could help feeling homesick being so far away from a lovely family like this?

2007. The last time the Quimpo clan were all under one roof. We are six brothers and sisters plus spouses and children!

So I was lucky that the making of my book trailer involved a lot of toing and froing between me and members of my clan. My baby brother Armand Quimpo happens to be a superduper motion graphics animator. Here he is at the beginning of his career:

I started by writing up a script which only featured the voice of one character, Andi. My sister in law, Candice Lopez Quimpo, who (conveniently) is a marketing and communications consultant and edits Baby Centre Philippines, reworked the script to feature the voices of both lead characters, Andi and Bernardo (the book itself alternates between the two voices). Candice and Armand are pictured right.

I asked Candice to explain how she came up with the script development:
Tall Story, for me, is a story in counterpoint. Its setting straddles the culture clash between modern London and provincial Montalban. 

Its narrative is told by two distinct personalities from very unique perspectives (literally and figuratively), who want different things in their young lives.

And yet everything is tied together: by family, by basketball, by hope. I thought the trailer needed to show both conflict and symmetry because I felt, very much, the need to validate both sides of the story and to celebrate the differences. Writing the script, I had to work with restraint. I had to be very sure to say enough without saying too much. To excite without revealing spoilers!

Once we got the script sorted out, Armand created a storyboard - he had to carefully plan each scene, each movement because he was drawing the pictures and animating them - not easy to change your mind once it's done!
Here are some frames from Armand's treatment:

Do you suppose this is what it feels like to work for Pixar?

When I visited the Philippines early this year, my brother Randy Quimpo (who makes corporate videos) filmed my basketball player niece, Camille Ramos, one night on the roof basketball court of his flat. Armand used the film to create the basketball movements - which fly by in seconds!

In London, I recorded my daughter, Mia, doing Andi's voice.
Mia clowning around in front of the microphone and stand I got for my birthday

In Manila, Armand tried to record himself doing Bernardo's voice, and though I liked the result, he decided he had to get a real teenager. My niece Mahalya auditioned her male classmates and found Kevin So who performed Bernardo's voice very well indeed.

Meanwhile, we needed another voice for the end tagline. We decided we needed a British accent and I auditioned a couple of neighbours under the pretext of inviting them to dinner. Lucky for me, Andrew Lewis, who lives across the road, has a warm, gravelly voice like Neil Gaiman and being a barrister, had the ability to deliver the right touch of quizzical humour to the line "What you want is not always what you get ... even when your wishes come true".

And so the book trailer was born. Nepotistic? Well, yeah. But it does everything that Tall Story is about - it brought family and friends closer together from opposite ends of the Earth in the most delightful way. Which does alleviate the homesickness somewhat!

Thank you, crew! Thank you, Random House for unwittingly commissioning my friends and family to make my book trailer.

WORLD PREMIERE: so this was my big idea for the launch of the book trailer - to anyone who hasn't heard me banging on about it - I invited people to post the video on their Facebook profiles and blogs today. In gratitude, I am putting everyone's names into a prize draw - the prize being ... a freshly minted hardback of Tall Story! If you've posted the video without realizing there was a prize, email me on mumatwork AT blueyonder.co.uk with 'World Premiere' on the subject BEFORE NOON TODAY and your name will be included in the draw.


  1. I love this blog, Candy. You have such a can do attitude. Good luck with Tall Story. I can't wait to read it!

  2. It isn't nepotism - it's a lovely symmetry to the themes of the book, that's all! And as for being stuck writing about families - don't worry, because everything I write is about family too!

    Very good luck with the book - not that I think you're going to need it...

  3. With friends and relatives like these, who needs anemones? Seriously, I 'can do' because i've got such a great support system!

  4. Oh by the way ... about the World Premiere competition - deadline is before noon UK Time - (that's 8pm in the Philippines and about 6am in parts of the US)

  5. So brilliant to learn the story behind the trailer, I was wondering about the voices, how it was put together. Way coooooooool!
    And huge, huge good luck and success with the book, Candy! xxx

  6. Yearning for family as a topic is one of the best, so no need to apologise. And it's easier yearning for family you have, than family you haven't got.

    Can you introduce me to that neighbour of yours?

  7. That's a very charming trailor, Candy. But Tall Story's on my list already:)

  8. A really beautiful trailer, Candy! So exciting to see the behind the scenes making-of too! Looking forward to buying my copy this weekend!

  9. I think that it is very natural to be family focussed in this way - family conditions so much of how we all think and behave so really you are reflecting the human condition - surely a good thing!

    Thanks for sharing


  10. I like your daughter's voice - very british. Excellent video!

  11. you should hear my kids copying my filipino accent! it's hilarious!


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