Jill Kintner’s Bandit Hill

Earlier this year close friend of the magazine, Jill Kintner, released an amazing short length hybrid animation and live-action film. In addition to being a multiple World Champion and one of the most recognisable female mountain bikers on the planet, Jill is also a gifted artist and the film brings her hand drawn sketch books to life on the big screen.

The story line of ‘Bandit Hill’ is a whimsical fairy tale adventure set in an enchanted forest where Jill loves to ride, and she befriends a loveable trio of characters, Squirrel, Fox, and Snail. One day the three find themselves in trouble and Jill managed to rescue them with her bike and return them to their home.    

[R]: People that know you or follow your social channels would know of your gift and passion for drawing. You’ve got such a lovely and unique style, and the little creatures and scenes you illustrate are always fun and interesting. Over the years, we’ve seen your art incorporated into the designs of your helmets, your riding gear, and even the vans that you often travel to races in, but to go on and create a full-blown animated short film that is next level! Where did the inspiration for this project come from?

I think having lofty goals and creativity helped bring this project to life. A few years ago, Josh Bryceland launched a video called “A Trip on the Bronson,” which captivated my imagination. I instantly loved the style of infusing animated characters into a ride video and wanted to try it with my Red Bull helmet artwork. The potential was limitless to showcase my two passions in this genre, so we made the pitch, got the right team together, started drawing, and Red Bull came through big time for us to make Bandit Hill a movie!

[R]: Have you always had an artistic side and enjoyed sketching and evolving your own style?

I love to draw, paint, sculpt, fold, design, etc., so yes. Sketchbooks have been the best tool for me to put pen to paper and work through ideas. Something about writing things down makes them feel more within reach. I don’t always know where to start with art, but I like it, so the more practice or collaboration I get with others, the more my individual style evolves.

[R]: ‘Bandit Hill’ seems like such a cool and magical forest. How did that awesome little concept come to be?

Lots of time spent riding in the forest or daydreaming about it! haha. We’re lucky, the landscape here in the Pacific NW where we live is so beautiful it’s easy to be inspired and imagine what fun personality lies within. 

[R]: The production quality of the film is amazing! What kind of operation scale did it take to create the film? Are we talking studios, production houses, and teams of individuals?

We had a small team of very talented creatives and several people behind the scenes who put a lot of time and energy into this project.  Scotty Carlson at Juicy Studios was our fearless leader; He directed, edited, layered the 2D effects, colour graded, and kept morale high. Animations were drawn by Owen Rixon from The 2D Workshop over in the UK. Lacy Kemp produced, made slime, carried snacks, and wrote the delightful little story. Frankowski filmed everything on location near Bellingham and in Canada.

I got to draw, ride, scout, build, etc, and our crew of helpers kept things looking magical out there. About 9 of us worked on the main production.

 [R]: As well as starring in the film, you were also heavily involved in the production process of drawing the original artworks that were then used to create the animations, is that right?

Yeah, we pieced together my super rough sketchy sketches to make an animatic overlayed with the story’s audio as our filming roadmap. It is so crazy, once again, to draw something and then see the exact thing created in reality. The critter tree was a prime example, I put little chimneys in a drawing and had all three characters sleeping by a fire, and boom, there it is, WITH a sweet hip jump built in. Crazy! It’s so satisfying to create like that though.

[R]: What would the number be if you had to guess how many individual illustrations you drew for the production?

Jeeze, possibly hundreds? Not all drawings are at a high level, but I had basic sketches for each scene with revisions, character tweaks, action, etc. I recruited my design/illustration hero, Cat Morley, to help get me started and add expertise and organization to the project. She also created the beautiful painted backgrounds which blended better into reality. We started this process on paper and retracing on a lightbox, but quickly moved to digital, thank god, so I have no idea on totals now. I do know that Owen created 40+ individual animation shots at 12 drawings per second, so that adds up quick for him over a 3 min movie.

[R]: The narration over the top of the film adds a fantastic layer. Were you involved with writing that script, and whose voice was used for narration?

I was merely the inspiration for the script. Lacy Kemp wrote the poem, and it gave me chills when I heard it; I just LOVED the story!! The characters ooze personality, and the adventure is filled with highs and lows, heroes and villains, and plenty of charm. Visualizing things unfolding in picture form with so many descriptive words was easy. Finding the perfect narrator, however, wasn’t so easy. We wanted it to feel like a cozy bedtime story read by a distinguished older female. The search took ages with many different reads until Scotty heard Penny Ryder (insert heart eyes) on a commercial. She was very much what we envisioned, like the British voice of ‘M’ from James Bond, and nailed the read in a couple takes.

[R]: Tell us a bit about the scene/tree where squirrel, fox, and snail live. It looks so cute and cool. Were you involved in building it? 

Oh yeah, building out the critter tree was a massive transformation and set the

tone of the whole piece. Six of us built this set, cleaned out debris, rock scaped, put the little chimneys up, hung fairy lights, made a mini fire pit, placed acorns, and added greenery. It went by quick, but it probably still took 4-5 hrs. Once we stood back to admire our creation, we knew what this project could be.

It felt like a proud fairytale moment for sure!

[R]: How long were you working on Bandit Hill? From start to finish, what was the time scale of the production?

It took a long time to launch, primarily because of covid delays, but we filmed it all in the spring of 2019, and it was mostly done by early 2021. The extra time was nice to chip away at all the details, as it kept improving, but we were eager to share this project as well. We kept hoping for an in person release, but ultimately it landed online, which was still cool but not quite the same satisfaction as seeing the audiences reactions in real time. Guess I’ll just have to wait for round two with a book tour!

[R]: Are there plans to create more episodes, or was it always intended to be a one-off? We’d love to see more adventures with your buddies Squirrel, Fox, and Snail!

I would love that too!! I think the process would be a lot smoother now with some experience. Animation takes a lot of time and money, and I think Scotty might need a break for a while, haha! Biking has taken over for now with the sunshine and events back on, but I have ideas for some fun activities. These critters live on and ride daily with me on my helmet, so who knows. I might have to learn animation and get after it again myself one day…

[R]: And finally, I spotted over on your website that you’ve got some awesome Bandit Hill merchandise available on your website (jillkintner.com), can our readers down here in Oz purchase those items?

Ah bummer, I have actually shut the store down for a little bit. The plan is to relaunch the store once the next project that we’ve currently working on is ready for release. So keep an eye on my site and also please check out my Instagram where I do lots of updates and I’ve also posted some of my designs as ‘coloring in pages’ which can be printed and then used. [R]

Watch Jills epic creation right here:


Bandit Hill Credits