Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: The Making of a Movie #3

Marc Bennett (director and co-screenwriter) on left, Martin Lemelman (illustrator) on right. Holding an original illustration from the book.
Sketch before final render
Artist tools
Martin having a moment of fun!

The Power of Creative Synergy

synergy: The interaction of two or more organizations or agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

There is a sense of familiarity when the movie The Tattooed Torah opens. Our intention when creating the movie was to preserve the sacred look/brand of the book written by Marvell Ginsburg (my Mom), and its integrity. One of the ways we hoped to achieve that was by hiring Martin Lemelman the illustrator of the book to do all the additional renders for the movie. You decide.

How did I find Martin? An interesting/mystical story…Originally I considered translating the book into Hebrew and needed  copyrights for the story and artwork. I googled Martin. His contact info stated he was living in Pennsylvania. I called and left a message on his machine. He was in the process of moving to Florida and did not pick up his messages remotely. I had all but given up hope.

An hour after Mom passed (I was in Israel), I saw Martin’s name on caller ID. He had just returned to Pennsylvania and listened to my message. I got the chills and took his call. I told him Marvell had just passed. He said he was sorry. They never met.  We both understood they were eternally connected through the book. It was wonderful speaking with him, I felt a tie with Mom. He was intrigued about the Hebrew translation. He told me he had all the original artwork intact. A true miracle!

Shortly after my conversation with Martin I literally began dreaming about making the book into a movie. Marvell began working her magic. I loved the idea. How fun! Work in a new medium. Reach a wider audience. Again I called Martin, this time connecting immediately. I told him my project was going to take a radical turn, instead of being in print it would now be an animated film. I felt the illustrations had an animated quality, a natural fit for his art. He loved the idea!

We originally thought we would need a few additional illustrations for the expanded story line in animation. We needed background scenes, various angles of people etc., it ended up being 109. Each new scene required at least three days to create, some several weeks, taking two years to finalize. Martin picked up the project after a 25 year break then seamlessly wove the old and the new illustrations together. Martin always worked in book/print form, this was the first time his work has been digitized on screen. An incredible feat, a master.

Making a movie is a team effort and a meticulous process.

All team members were asked to check details. We needed to ensure the originals and additional illustrations stayed consistent throughout and true to the story. Our team is virtual. We live in Chicago/Jerusalem, LA, Boulder, Aspen, Delray Beach, and Nashville. We have flown all over the country/world working with various members of the team.

 Visual process: concept, written word, sketch, render, digitized image,  special effects, finalized digitized film.

  •  Three-part story structure based on book outlined  (Greg Ferkel).
  • Screenplay (Co-written by Brett Kopin and Marc Bennett).
  • A log documenting and numbering each scene is created by director (Marc).
  •  A series of pencil sketches are created by artist (Martin Lemelman).
  •  Sketches are reviewed by the screenwriters (Brett and Marc) for accuracy, reviewing content and detail.
  • Upon approval, the sketch is rendered by hand in water colors and ink by artist (Martin).
  • Art is transferred by currier ( Marc) to producer (Lisa Effress) to get scanned.
  • Images digitally sent to animator (Jeffrey Pittle).
  • Images enhanced with special effects (Christian Robins)

It’s all in the  details. Stay tuned…

Exciting note! We are in the JCC Chicago Jewish Festival on March 8, 2020 1:00 Evanston Theater. For those of you who missed us at the premiere here is your chance to catch us. See you at the movies!

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,