The Bears’ Martellus Bennett plans to release his first animated short film, “Zoovie,” next year. The story revolves around an ambitious penguin named Cosmo who aspires to do more than just perform at the zoo. If it sounds like a metaphor for Bennett’s life, that’s because it is. Bennett – who has the third most receiving yards among all NFL tight ends, in addition to four touchdowns -- has many aspirations outside of football.
“Cosmo is part of the Tiny Tuxedos,” said Bennett Thursday in a board room at Macy’s on State Street, where he was appearing at an NFL Men’s Apparel style event. “The Tiny Tuxedos are these prestigious penguins handpicked to perform. That’s not good enough for him. He wants to be more than that, so he seeks out alternative things that make him happy. Cosmo is basically me in the NFL.”
Bennett said rapper Asher Roth (a.k.a. the guy behind the “I Love College” song) and ESPN’s Cari Champion both lent their voices to the film.
The second of the six animated short films Bennett hopes to release over the next three years is based on his real life as well. He said it’s called “Do Not Draft Me” and revolves around fantasy football from Bennett’s perspective as a player. Bennett will provide his own voice for the film but said he’d rather not provide the protagonist’s voice in his other films.
The movie will be available online as part of a subscription service, with the first one expected to receive the premiere treatment in Los Angeles in March and Chicago in the summer.
Bennett is focusing on short films rather than full length movies because of his busy football schedule (Bennett said he is writing the story and music for the films and draws the preliminary sketches, all of which he does in his basement, or as he calls it, “The Imagination Lounge”). Once he retires, Bennett would like to make full length animated movies.
Is Bennett drawn to children’s entertainment because he’s a parent?
“I always liked that (expletive), before I was even a parent,” responded Bennett. “...The reason I’m drawn to animation are the possibilities. You can’t bounce a real human off the ground and blow them back up. With animated films, the story can go anywhere.”
Bennett is known for his colorful personality and likes to entertain (check out his Twitter profile and you’ll see what I mean), which was evident when he discussed a novel he just began working on. “It’s about a kid named Harley who goes to space camp,” Bennett said, boasting “It’s amazing. I think J.K. Rowling would have wished she wrote it.” The book is the second of five he hopes to release over the next few years, the first being a book of short stories he just finished.
Following the interview, Bennett – all six-foot-six, 265 pounds of him – made his way out toward the meet-and-greet, but not before making a request for the article.
“The title should be called ‘Martellus – movie maker,’” Bennett said, his hands on his hips as he looked off into space. “No wait, it has to be ‘Martellus, the movie maker.’”
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