t was nothing short of serendipity how two old friends crossed paths and the animation for “Buffalo Bushido” came into being. It was right when production was wrapping up when McGennis found out through a mutual friend that Jeremy Appelbaum had moved back home from Los Angeles with his wife. McGennis had grown up playing hockey with Jeremy’s older brothers but they hadn’t crossed paths in over fifteen years. McGennis had heard about Appelbaum’s talent and success out in Hollywood doing visual effects and animation on feature films including “Zathura”, “Elf”, and “Blade: Trinity” but he was unaware that Appelbaum had recently bought a house in the suburbs only twenty minutes away. How cool to have an Emmy award winning Visual Effects Artist who you know fall from the sky in your backyard.
eedless to say, McGennis met up with Jeremy to catch up and to talk about “Buffalo Bushido”. McGennis recalls their first meeting, “it was like ping pong the way we were bouncing ideas back and forth about what could be possible. Originally, I was only thinking about how to bring animation to the Demon Comic drug sequence but Jeremy brought up the idea of looking to subtly introduce the animation throughout the whole film to underscore thought process of the main character. This really got my gears turning. By looking at the film this way, most of the spots just popped right out. He just kept saying, “I can do that or maybe we can do this” and soon we had a Christmas list of ideas and we were both like holy shit!”
t was also Appelbaum
who referred McGennis to underground comic book artist Marvin
Mariano. Both Appelbaum and Mariano had worked together and
Appelbaum had a sense that he could deliver what McGennis
envisioned for the artwork for the Demon Comic drug sequence. This
is how the Buffalo-Toronto connection was forged and it wasn’t
long before McGennis was making the ninety minute drive up to
Toronto on a regular basis to meet with Marvin to create the
panels for the comic book. It would be these panels that Appelbaum
would bring to life by giving them movement. Panel by panel, the
sequence was pieced together to the Funkadelic song “Super
Stupid” and it really became a movie within a movie. The
sequence took what was written in the script “as a rollercoaster
ride through coke dementia hell” and hit it out of the
stratosphere by transforming it into a living, breathing, on
screen experience. It was testament to teamwork and to using the
script as a map to discovery.
he Demon Comic may have been a separate entree but the rest of the meal still had to be prepared. It was early 2008 when McGennis made the decision to go for a full scale digital post production with Deluxe. McGennis learned that all of the animation would have to done in 2k rez from the scanned negative. This would include any shot that Appelbaum would treat with a visual effect. While this was very exciting it would also mean a ton of work for Appelbaum. Besides adding visual effects to an ever-expanding list, Appelbaum kindly offered to paint out anything that McGennis did not want to see. So added to the creative list of visual effects was the time demanding tasks of painting out large scratches, blurring unwanted reflections, and treating several other things frame by frame. Working around his busy schedule, Appelbaum managed to squeeze in all of the work over a six month period so that McGennis could move forward scheduling his Sound Mix for August and his Color Correction for October. Throughout the process, new items would come up and Appelbaum would address them. Appelbaum’s commitment to the film in post production stretched over an entire year and his contribution is a main reason why “Buffalo Bushido” exponentially exceeded McGennis’ expectations.
he collaboration on “Buffalo Bushido” is really something special, surprising, and very satisfying for both Appelbaum and McGennis. Although unexpected, the animation became part of the unique structure of the film. “It was always latent in the script with the Samurai D alter ego,” McGennis explains, “It just needed to find its way out and that’s what Jeremy, Marvin, and I did together. I remember talking to Jesse Martin about my extended post and he really encouraged me to pursue the anime. It just took time to create a whole new layer and I am grateful that I had the talent and time to get to that.” Whether it’s the extended, unforgettable comic book drug sequence or something quick like kid’s faces transforming into samurais and geishas, you will walk away from “Buffalo Bushido” remembering the animation and feeling that it played a huge role in the film.
cGennis and Appelbaum are already putting their heads together for another film to take place in Buffalo. Like on “Buffalo Bushido”, McGennis has his entrée already in mind for an animated opening credit sequence. But where it will lead from there who can tell? With creativity, talent, and friendship, the sky’s the limit. You can check out Jeremy Appelbaum’s visual effects and animation work at