MARQUETTE - Catherine Apple is the first to admit explaining her job to others can be a little daunting.
Apple, a 1981 graduate of Marquette Senior High School, is the editor of animation for the new film, "Gnomeo and Juliet," which opened Friday nationwide and at the Carmike Royal Cinema in Marquette. The movie is rated G and runs for 84 minutes.
"It's quite complicated, what I do," said Apple in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "The dialogue comes first in animation and we spend three or four years or more on a film. The editorial department works the whole time, not everyone else does. We work with the idea, the art work, the character design... all aspects."
In this film publicity image released by Touchstone Pictures, Juliet, voiced by Emily Blunt, left, and Gnomeo, voiced by James McAvoy, center, and Featherstone, voiced by Jim Cummings, are shown in a scene from 'Gnomeo and Juliet.' (AP photo)
Teams of storyboard artists are employed and work in teams, she said.
"They draw sequences and pitch their boards to me," Apple said.
While known actors voice the characters in the final version of the film, during the long preparation process, "scratch" voices are used.
"It's almost always someone in the office who does that," she said. These practice voices help shape the dialogue.
"We continually make changes in dialogue and art, then we add in sound effects and music," Apple explained. "We do this over and over slowly, until we finally have the whole movie.
"Then we sit with executives to see what works and what doesn't," she said. "We send things back to the animators. Then the actors come in for the voice work. That's where the dialogue can be cut or the actors ad lib. And then things are sent to the animators again.
"Then it comes back to me to trim, cut and rearrange. The score and mix are added. The actors come back in. It's not like people think, that the actors are there just once and that's it. Michael Caine was in four or five times to record his part in this film. The script kept changing...
"It's a long process."
The daughter of Mary and Bob Apple of Marquette, Catherine Apple credits a program at MSHS with sparking her interest.
"We did a live radio/TV show," she said. "Shirley Smith ran it. That was great."
But Apple didn't immediately begin a career in film.
"I went to the Jacobetti Center (at Northern Michigan University) and became a welder," she said. "When I was living in Minneapolis, I went back to school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I was taking fine arts classes, which included media arts. I took a film class and really liked it, so I got into photography and film.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, the first internship Apple could find was with Hyperion.
"That's a small studio," she said. "I started working on 'Life with Louie' because that was the job open and it was in animation. Ever since then, I have been involved in editing."
The first animated feature she worked on was "Cats Don't Dance" in 1997. Some of the bigger credited work she has done since includes "The Road to El Dorado" and "Chicken Little."
"And now it's this piece, 'Gnomeo and Juliet,'" Apple said. " I am very proud of it."
A takeoff on William Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet," this new animated film is about a pair of star-crossed garden gnomes.
Released by Disney/Touchstone, "Gnomeo" is from Rocket Pictures, which is Elton John's company.
"Elton John's been trying to get this movie made for years," Apple said. "This is not a musical per se, but it does incorporate music in it. There are two new songs from Elton John with his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin. Then Elton's classic songs are worked into the score which was done by James Newton Howard."
Many well-known actors lent their voices to characters in the film. In addition to Caine, they included Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Ashley Jensen, James McAvoy and Emily Blunt.
"Ozzy Osbourne has a small part in it. So does Dolly Parton," Apple said. "And Jason Statham was my favorite to meet. But really, everybody in this movie was very, very nice."
Apple spent a year and a half in London working on the film, then another year and a half in Toronto while the process continued.
While Apple considers Los Angeles her home, she and husband Richard Isanove have been living in France with their two children, Sophie, 11, and Mathieu, 8. She also has a grown son, Kevin, 28.
"My husband is French so we are raising the kids to be bilingual," she said. Her husband also is an award-winning comic book artist.
Apple went to the London premiere of "Gnomeo and Juliet" recently.
"I was able to take my family with me," she said. "The kids liked the film a lot."
Apple's parents, who are spending part of the winter in Arizona, assured their daughter they will be going to see the film as well.
"They said they'd be the first in line on Friday," Apple said with a chuckle.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.