“Regulus,” a film created based on the children’s book with the same title from author and senior marketing major, Aaron Ozee, recently became available to stream on Amazon Prime. Starting March 18, “Regulus,” which was originally set to premiere in Chicago on July 25, gained celebrity attention on the platform from names including Akon, Tony Hawk, Drake Bell, Kristin Bauer van Straten and Paula Deen.
Based on the attention the movie generated from those under stay-at-home orders, 50% of the proceeds of the “Regulus” movie and book, as well as any other titles published under Ozee’s name, will be donated to charities to help those affected by the pandemic for the remainder of 2020.
“We’re releasing this movie to provide children with entertainment that’s educational and meaningful, not to…captialize off of people being at home,” said Ozee. “I brought this up to the publisher and the production studio, so this is the pledge that I have made.”
Produced and directed by Ozee, the “Regulus” movie tells the story of the rat king from Ozee’s 2017 book of the same name. Plans to make the film date back to September 2019, when Ozee was approached by Bizarros Studio, a small boutique production studio in California. As Ozee had a large amount of control in this project, he was able to avoid creating what he calls “a rushed animated movie.”
“When they had originally approached me about it, they had one conception of this movie and they pitched it to me…and the vision they presented to me was absolutely horrific…They wanted to make it into a generic film,” said Ozee. “It didn’t really match with my vision…so I presented a different idea to them as to what I thought would work, and they liked my version of it so much, that they hired me as the producer and director of the movie.”
With a run time of 30 minutes and 20 seconds, the “Regulus” film uses stop motion and portrays characters with construction paper cut-outs. Among other unique aspects of the film, opening credits of the movie run about four minutes long, and slides with words from the book appear on screen in between scenes in the film.
“…People are looking for something that’s different, something that’s unique,” said Ozee. “The beginning of it [the opening credits] is trying to teach kids to sit there and wait for something to come. Those graphic slides are not just random words, those are the exact words from the book, so when you actually see the movie, it’s the book and movie in one…The parent can read the graphic slide to the kid and the kid can enjoy the scene that’s being acted out, so that way, it’s a read-along and engaging experience for the parent and the child.”
Production of the “Regulus” movie began from start to finish in October to the beginning of February. While Ozee stayed in Chicago, the production of the film took place in Columbia.
“I went down there once to oversee production and see how things were going,” said Ozee. “Talk about an incredible feeling walking into a giant warehouse…and there’s 30 or so giant tables spread throughout the warehouse and there’s some 20 people running around…filming each and every second of the film.”
However, with creative control and working remotely, there came unforeseen difficulties during production. While making the movie, Ozee recalled that he was under extreme stress and faced complications communicating with the animation team in Columbia.
“People always ask me now, ‘What is it like being a director, what is it like being a producer, what is it like editing a movie?’ and I said it’s one of the most stressful jobs you could possibly imagine,” said Ozee. “There was a lot of going back, starting from scratch. Me and the animation team from right out the gates were not getting along because the problem is that with them being in Columbia, the language barrier is tough…That was a challenge in the beginning, but we finally worked it out….”
Prior to the making of this film, Ozee’s “Regulus” had been transferred into claymation by animator Martyna Koleniec in a 2017 YouTube video, which has over 100,000 views on the platform.
While Ozee waits to hear what fans want from the “Regulus” series in the future, the author is also known for having copies of this book brought to hard-to-reach places. Prior to the premiere of the movie, the “Regulus” book has traveled to places including outer space, Mount Everest, the Galapagos Islands, the Bermuda Triangle and Chernobyl.