PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Kate Micucci said her voice in the animated short The Bleacher, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, is now a favorite of her young son. Rita (Micucci) is The Bleacher, a woman who searches for a missing sock in a laundromat.
"I have a 4-year-old, so we play a lot of pretend," Micucci, 43, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "That voice pops out now."
As The Bleacher, Micucci speaks with a raspy voice. She said directors Nicole Daddona and Adam Wilder instructed her on her tonality.
"[Daddona and Wilder) were just telling me to go creepier, raspier, creepier until we got to this place that was so crazy," Micucci said. "There's so much heart in this, as well. It's creepy, but you feel for The Bleacher."
Micucci also sings in her raspy voice. She is a musician, but Wilder and Dadonna wrote the song for The Bleacher.
"We were out getting coffee one morning and the song just came to us," Dadonna said. "We were really bored and this song just sort of creeped into us."
As a solo artist and half of Garfunkel & Oates, Micucci normally sings in her own voice. She said it was not hard to sing in The Bleacher's rasp.
"It was fun to sing that way," Micucci said. "I love doing different characters, and I was really grateful because this was an unusual voice for me."
Wilder and Dadonna met Micucci at a Los Angeles screening of their short, Duckie, in 2016. Micucci was in the audience and they became friends.
The directors recorded Micucci's dialogue in 2021. They spent two years animating the film with the computer software Blender, going frame by frame to evoke the style films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline achieve with physical puppets.
"We tried to get it as close to stop motion as humanly possible with this style," Wilder said.
Wilder met Dadonna when he responded to a flyer she posted offering to make puppets. They made Duckie together, and became friends and later romantic partners, as well as co-directors.
The directors have plans for a feature film version of The Bleacher, too. The feature would explore The Bleacher's entire life.
"The feature would start somewhere in her younger days of growing up," Wilder said. "It would just be very nonlinear, very similar to how it is now, but really going into her high school years, tracking this character beyond laundry."
This was the first Micucci heard of feature plans.
"Count me in," Micucci said. "I'm down to do whatever Adam and Nicole want to make."
Micucci is joining her directors in Park City, Utah, for The Bleacher screenings in the Sundance Midnight Shorts program. It will be her first new project released since having surgery to remove 20% of her lung.
Micucci announced her lung cancer diagnosis and treatment on TikTok in December. Though now cancer free, she said she is still getting used to the effects of the treatment.
"I think I went too hard, too fast recently where I did too much," Micucci said. "Staying in New York in a five-story walkup did not help."
Micucci performed music on New Year's Eve in the Not Inappropriate Show. Singing her songs live showed her what a difference missing 20% of a lung makes.
"I was doing my song 'Bucket of Beans.' and halfway through I thought. 'I am going to pass out,'" Micucci said. "I got through it. It just was a reminder that my brain wants to do it, but I've got to build my stamina back."
It will still be some time, Miccuci said, before she embarks on new projects. Garfunkel & Oates recorded their last album in 2015 and, though there are no plans to tour soon, Micucci is still in touch regularly with bandmate Riki Lindhome.
"I'm sure we'll get back to it," Micucci said. "We've been doing some projects separately recently, but I'm sure it's in the not so distant future."