In the film One Million Years BC (1966), Ray Harryhausen used stop motion animation to create the illusion of a giant turtle chasing Raquel Welch along a beach. In 1975, a 10 year old Adam Ciolfi would see that film and a lifelong fascination with stop motion animation was born. By 1977, having learned what he could do with the process from magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and through films ranging from King Kong to the Rankin Bass Christmas specials, Adam made his first film. Though crude in execution, the results inspired him to continue.
Over the next 7 years he would make a number of animated films ranging in length from 3 to 14 minutes. With each project, the results grew more refined, the puppets more polished and the finished films more accomplished.
In 1989, after graduating from York University with a film degree, Adam embarked on an ambitious 27 minute project. 16 months in the making and self-financed, ATTIC IN THE BLUE was completed in 1991. It would win Best Animated Film from both the adult and children’s juries at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival as well as top honours at the New Orleans International Film Festival and a Silver Award at the Philadelphia International Film Festival.
Adam stepped away from animation for several years, choosing to focus on several live action projects. However, in 1995 he was invited to San Francisco to spend a week on the set of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. That experience rekindled the animation fire.
In 1996, armed with a feature script from writer Michael Stokes, Adam began work on THE LADY OF NAMES. 4 years were spent storyboarding, designing sets, and building puppets. Frustrated with unsuccessful attempts to secure outside financing, he did what came naturally, he started filming.
Actors were auditioned, voices were recorded and equipment was purchased. On February 10, 2000, the first frames were put to film. Little did he know that the final frames would not be shot until November 10, 2009. During that 10 year period, he worked full time for CBC News as a graphics director and spent a year at Cuppa Coffee Studios working as an animator, all the while continuing animation on THE LADY OF NAMES.
Approximately 200 shots were completed per year. Footage was slowly assembled and finalized before existing sets could be struck and new ones built in their place. With filming completed, Adam would spend 2 more years working on the picture and sound edit as well as composing the film score, which brings us to the finished film. THE LADY OF NAMES is a true labour of love and a singular vision from a man who was once mesmerized by a giant turtle trying to make its way to sea.