Thursday, 11 May 2017

Aren't we all waiting for a goat, in our own way?

Crikey, what a week. The first few days of the new job have been quite splendid, although the studio is a ways away so I have very little time to do anything bloggy around the commute. It's all more than worth it, however, and I'm really looking forward to talking more about it when it's released and I'm contractually able to, which will be a little while so hold tight.
When last we spoke, one-sided conversation as ours often tend to be, I'd just launched Klementhro online. On certain sites, it appears to have gone down well:
On others, less so:
While I'd concede Gizmodo commenters are perhaps not the film's target demographic I do have to side with them on the whole ghost-not-being-sarcastic thing.
At any rate it got the film some unexpected visibility which has largely been a positive. Most of all I'm delighted to say that it got picked for Short of the Week which I consider a genuine honour - for obvious reasons I keep abreast of a fair few blogs and shorts curation sites and SOTW has been consistently top-notch since it first began, so many sincere thanks to the team and especially Rob for the lovely write-up (also bonus points for being the first person to my knowledge - including me - to ever actually count the logs).
I mentioned in the last post that there was an upcoming screening next month, which will take place at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick for Short Sighted Cinema's one-day film festival The Shortest Nights. The screening that features Klementhro will be Outlands and takes place at noon on Sunday June 18th. I'll still be in Annecy that day so can't swing by myself but it looks like a great event so check it out, why doncha?
I'm not sure how to end this largely self-congratulatory post so I'll just embed the latest teaser for the new Twin Peaks. I had nothing to do with it, I'm just excited about it.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Nowhere to go

Following a fabulous weekend at CIFF with the Cardiff Animation Nights team, Klementhro has officially cleared 100 public screenings and, in celebration, is now online in full!
Much love and gratitude to all of the other folks who gave this film a chance, including Odense International Film Festival, Anonimul, LAIKA, Festival International du Film d'Animation de Paris, Animasyros International Animation Festival + Agora, Área de Contenção, interfilm Berlin, Flensburger Kurzfilmtage, Kyiv International Short Film Festival, Nuit du Court Métrage, AniScreen, Skepto FilmFest, Kraken Con, Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), Porto7 - Festival Internacional de Curtas-metragens do Porto, Ploiesti International Film Festival (PIFF), Shorts Attack, Animaze - Montreal International Animation Film Festival, TAFF - Turku Animated Film Festival, BUSHO, Linoleum International Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival, Fantoche, Filmfest Eberswalde - Provinziale, filmzeitkaufbeuren, Kurzfilmnacht-Tour, SoDak Motion, Kuandu International Animation Festival, Anima Mundi, Anilogue, MUMIA (Mostra Udigrudi Mundial de Animação), London Short Film Festival. Animakom Fest, Short Waves Festival, Le Court Nous Tient, Animation Unlimited and Cortoons Festival Gandia.
The film's big-screen adventures aren't over yet, however. I've recently gotten wind that it will play at a screening event in London next month, although I'll hold back on the specifics until they officially announce it.
More good news is I'm starting a new job today on a project I've been enthusiastic about for a while and it's looking to be a lot of fun. It's also looking to be quite full-on with a commute on top so my self-set completion deadline for my next film Sunscapades (end of May) is looking unlikely. That being said it's still coming together nicely and will hopefully benefit from the extra marinating time. Fingers crossed it will have some kind of premiere before the year is through.
In the meantime I recently spoke with Dan Ekis - a likeminded fellow with whom I share an enthusiasm for all things indie animation - about, well, all things indie animation, with a sprinkling of Skwigly stuff and I'm fairly certain some shameless book plugging thrown in. Check out his Animation Auteur pod/vodcast for all sorts of wonderful interviews with some animation greats - including Steven Subotnik, Janet Perlman, Patrick Smith, Ruth Lingford, Andy Martin and Elliot Cowan among others - and you can check out the episode with our conversation below (if the state of my horrific office environment is too much to handle - and yes, that is actually a cassette player behind me - you can also download an audio-only version):

Thursday, 4 May 2017

More Chats
In the past week on Skwigly there have been a couple of long-overdue (in so much as they're about people I've wanted to feature for a fair few years now) pieces gone up that are both worth sharing. Firstly I've posted up a Q'n'A with Dutch animator Joost Lieuwma of Frame Order. I first met Joost back in 2011 for that year's edition of ITFS Stuttgart, where my film The Naughty List was playing out of competition. That particular trip turned out to be a turning point in several ways - it yielded my first Skwigly features, something that's obviously become a major part of my life, and started a chain of events that got my film in the hands of one my biggest industry heroes, in front of an Annecy audience and, eventually, on TV. Those aside I have a very clear memory of how the quality of the work playing in competition deeply inspired me, far more so than any other festival had up to that point. Among said films was Joost's hilarious and brilliant exercise in simplicity Things You'd Better Not Mix Up, and as the year's passed he'd continue to make equally wonderful work such as Leaving Home, How Dave and Emma Got Pregnant and Panic! (co-directed by Daan Velsink) which I was honoured to see screening alongside my last film Klementhro when I finally made it back to Stuttgart last year. Since then Joost has been knocking out a series of brilliant micro-shorts called Cartoon-Box, one of which will be playing at Stuttgart tomorrow (alas I didn't have anything to submit to this year's edition but knock wood Sunscapades will make the grade in 2018). Have a read of the interview here and treat yourself to some of his work, you won't regret it.
Another feature you should have a read of is Laura-Beth's recent conversation with Bristol-based director Emma Lazenby. Emma's work, generally centered around medical subjects (although she recently served as Art Director on the recent Disney series Nina Needs to Go! that some other buddies of mine worked on) has always proved to be thoughtful, charming and a great example of how animation can be used to put across more sensitive topics without necessarily being stoic or clinical. Back in 2010 her ArthurCox/Channel 4 film Mother of Many deservedly won itself a BAFTA and it remains a particularly strong marriage of visuals (with some uncompromisingly non-cinematic yet accessible depictions of childbirth and midwifery) and sound, boasting a wonderful percussive soundtrack by David Schweitzer.
Since then she has gone on to form ForMed Films, other films of note including One of a Kind, A Little Deep Sleep and My Mum's Got a Dodgy Brain. In the interview - which you can read here - Emma also talks a bit about her upcoming project Perinatal Positivity for which she'll be raising funds over the next few weeks. Learn more about how you can get involved by giving the video a watch below:

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cardiff Capers

The Cardiff Independent Film Festival kicks off this weekend and tickets are available to book online from the festival venue Chapter's website. Just a reminder of some of the Cardiff Animation Nights events I'm involved with – on Saturday 6th there's a 10:15am and 11:45am screening of Cloth Cat's Animated Family Shorts that features Laura-Beth's wonderful UWE film Boris-Noris (for which I added some noises and removed some rigs) followed by Klementhro's inclusion in the second competition programme at 5:15pm.
Then in the evening I'll be joining Steve for another edition of the Skwigly Animation Quiz, where teams are invited to put civility and decorum to one side as they pillage the prize table in as vicious and depraved a manner as possible. The quiz is free but you might want to book a ticket to make sure there's a space for ya - also worth mentioning that it will now take place at 8:15pm rather than 7pm as I'd originally stated on here.
Also among the various screenings are some brilliant films by recent Skwigly interviewees and general animation chums such as Kim Noce, Anete Melece, Sara Barbas, Chris Shepherd, Liam Harris, Luc Gut and many more, so be sure to check out the full programme. We'll be milling in and around Chapter over the Saturday and Sunday so if you see us come say hello.
Don't forget that a week today, in celebration of Saturday being the film's 100th screening, Klementhro will debut online! Keep 'em peeled.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Strangers in the (Late) Night
In the second episode of Independent Animation, the companion podcast series to my Skwigly tie-in book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films, I take a look at the work of “rotating collective” the Late Night Work Club, who last year followed up their 2013 anthology film Ghost Stories with another themed collection of animated shorts titled Strangers.
This podcast follows up on two of the artists who contributed invaluably to the original book:
Kirsten Lepore (Hi Stranger)
Since her promising beginnings with the viral hit Story From North America (co-directed with Garrett Michael Davis in 2007) and breakthrough student short Bottle (that to date has picked up 39 awards and counting) in 2010, Kirsten Lepore‘s animation career has flourished, notable jewels in the crown being her auteur short film Move Mountain (2013) and last year’s Adventure Time episode Bad Jubies. Her Strangers contribution Hi Stranger went crazily viral last month, even getting itself spoofed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You can read a bit more from the interview in my recent feature Stranger Things: A Conversation with Kirsten Lepore.
Alex Grigg (Born in a Void)
Australian animation director and designer Alex Grigg has produced work for clients such as Super Deluxe, Netflix and Cartoon Network. Presently working at Mighty Nice in Sydney, Alex’s independent work includes the multi-award-winning Ghost Stories contribution Phantom Limb.
The podcast also features exclusive insight about the independent production approaches for the anthology from other participating talents:
Charles Huettner (Intro, outtro and interstitials animation)
Charles is a Pennsylvania-based freelance animator. As well as his involvement with the Late Night Work Club, he was recently involved with fellow LNWC founder Scott Benson‘s indie game project Night in the Woods.
Sean Buckelew (Lovestreams)
Having received an MFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sean has since worked on projects including We Are Your Friends, Consuming Spirits and the Annie Award-winning animated sequences of He Named Me Malala. Alonside his independent films he has worked with clients including Disney Channel, MTV, Arctic Monkeys, VH1 and Adult Swim.
Jeanette Bonds (Departures)
Since receiving a BFA and MFA from CalArts for Experimental Animation, LA-based animator Jeanette has gone on to programme and participate in festivals including Slamdance, Platform, KLIK!, Fantoche and the Los Angeles Film Festival. In 2014 her student film Trusts & Estates was nominated for an Annie Award. On top of her independent film work Jeanette is also the Co-Founder, Director and Artistic Director of the GLAS Animation Festival.
Loup Blaster (Freedom)
Presently living and working in France as an illustrator, animator and VJ, Louise Philia Druelle (AKA Loup Blaster) grew up in Calais and studied animation at ESAAT and Volda University College.  In March 2012 she started BBBLASTER, an illustration, animation and music project.
Nicolas Ménard (Wednesday with Goddard)
Nicolas moved to the UK from Montreal to study at the Royal College of Art where he produced the popular student films Somewhere and Loop Ring Chop Drink. During his career he has worked with dozens of clients including Google, la Cinémathèque Québécoise, Universal and Time magazine. He also works as a director at Nexus.
Listen to the episode below or direct download:

Thanks muchly to all the brilliant interviewees for their time and insight, as well as composers Skillbard and David Kamp for the use of their music in the episode. Don't forget that the Independent Animation book itself is available to buy now from pretty much everywhere else that sells books - though at the time of writing you can get it direct from CRC Press with 20% off plus free shipping!

Sunday, 23 April 2017


The various dedicated Faith No More blogs I keep track of have let me know that the band's second (though often presumed first) album Introduce Yourself is a sobering thirty years old today.
I have a special fondness for this one, primarily as it was the first full album of theirs I ever bought (roughly 21 years ago) but also because, despite predating the era of the band where they teetered on mainstream fame, it genuinely boasts some of the best songs they ever wrote, at times reaching the same musical heights as their magnum opus Angel Dust.
To mark the occasion here's me foolishly attempting to cover one of said tracks onstage a few years back in loving tribute:
I was blessed enough to meet singer Chuck Mosley when he played in a Bristol a few months ago and treated us to an acoustic medley of songs from Introduce Yourself (as well as a fantastically bizarre instance of him covering the Mike Patton-era Faith No More track 'Take This Bottle').
Cheers to my boy Lee for taking what will be one of my favourite photos probably until I die.

Not really much else to say other than enthuse that if you've never encountered it before why not go ahead and treat yourself to a listen?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

More for the pile
Having quasi-premiered at the Manchester Animation Festival back in 2015, Klementhro will be paddling his way up North again for To The Screen: Animation Unlimited, a one-day festival event put together through Creative Industries Trafford. Even better news is it will be screening alongside Laura-Beth Cowley's new film (and relative newcomer to the festival circuit) Boris-Noris! So if you're able to make it to the Greater Manchester area this coming Wednesday (April 19th) the programme will kick off around 7pm at the Waterside Arts Centre. It's sure to be a fun'un!
As some may recall, last year Klementhro followed in the footsteps of its predecessors Ground Running and The Naughty List by getting itself screened at the Skepto International Film Festival. I've just been informed by the lovely folks over there that it will screen again on April 29th for a special pre-festival 'Best of 2016' event in Sassari, North Sardinia. Exact venue/time info a-comin' soon.
As a little bonus bit of good news, these recent additions to the upcoming screenings means that, come the film's appearance at the Cardiff Independent Film Festival in May, it will have cleared 100 public screenings, which was my self-set target to hit before putting the film online. So assuming nothing changes in the interim, the date it goes up will be Monday May 8th. Pencil it in, people - this time Klementhro's coming to you!
They're waiting...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

News Clump

Some updates to brighten an actually-quite-sunny-already weekend.
Sunscapades is making slow but encouragingly steady progress. I've been blessed with having some absolutely fantastic background and close-ups painters who've really been helping to nail that 90s series vibe I'm going for with it. If you want to keep up with how it's coming together and get some sneaky peeks as they go up you can now follow me on Instagram. Here's a wee smattering of the goods you can come to expect:
A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on

A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on

A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on
It's also worth reminding y'all that there's a Skwigly Instagram that's been set up for a while now so if you're in a followin' mood then why not get in on that too.
Speakin' o' Skwigly, the end of March officially marked five years of the Skwigly Animation Podcast. It's been quite a half-decade, with co-host Steve and myself amassing literally days' worth of exclusive interviews and insights from the best and brightest of the animation industry. So naturally to mark the occasion I've put together a selection of bits where it's just the two of us pissing about in between interviews. Traipse down memory lane in this compilation of conversational “highlights” including:
  • Animation indoctrination
  • The ballad of Crazy Frog
  • Miyazaki’s confusing retirement
  • Making it to Annecy
  • Peppa Pig and the ****ing Gazelles
  • Pastor vs. Frozen
  • Too many coyotes
  • The misadventures of Quoanna Jinn
  • Pixar’s Lava: A fair and reasoned critique
  • Alienating Matt Groening forever
  • The nightmare commission
  • Noisy dicks at festivals
  • Annecy traditions (featuring Katie and Julia)
  • Animals are crap in real life
  • Awful films we sit through
  • The dark side of animation
  • The Skwigly anxiety dream
  • Miyazaki’s wrath
The second season of mine and Laura-Beth Cowley's more recent Skwigly podcast series Intimate Animation is continuing on also, with Kim Noce of Mew Lab joining us for episode 2. Since graduating from the NFTS with her 2005 animated documentary short After, Kim has gone on to direct eight independent shorts, seven commissioned films for the BBC, C4 and the BFI among others, as well as ten animation installations, including The Evening Her Mind Jumped Out of Her Head for Watford Borough Council. Recently Kim was among several directors commissioned to direct Love in Idleness for the Shakespeare400 Still Shakespeare series. The films took inspiration from original research by Sally Barnden and were produced in partnership with London Shakespeare Centre, Film Club at Th1ng and Sherbet.
Also discussed in this episode is Kirsten Lepore's curious new film Hi Stranger, made for the second Late Night Work Club anthology Strangers. Her contribution went viral in a big way a few weeks back and you can learn more about how it came together in my interview with her:
Stranger Things: A Conversation with Kirsten Lepore
You can hear a longer version of the interview as well as more from the other Strangers contributors in a podcast special that will be going up soon (I'd originally planned to time it with a public screening event I'm involved in but as that's been pushed back until later in the year I'm aiming to get it up sooner) so watch this space.

In the meantime there's a new episode of my video interview series Lightbox in which I meet Kyle Carrozza, a nice fella whose frenetic contribution to the Cartoon Network series line-up Mighty Magiswords just made it to the UK this weekend. Have a watch and learn more about how it came together, it's quite interesting how its path to becoming a full series was a somewhat atypical one.
I know at this point you're all literally screaming "But what's happening with Klementhro?!" until your voice boxes are raw and bloody, so I'll put you out of your misery. I'm happy to report the film's getting a surprise screening in competition at Cortoons Festival Gandia. The festival takes place in Valencia, Spain and while I'm not 100% clear on the exact time and venue info just yet I can tell you it's held from April 27th to 30th and that my film will be part of the 1-4 minutes screening category. More when there's more.
Don't forget that shortly afterward it will screen on May 6th at 5:15pm as part of Cardiff Animation Nights' competition strand at the Cardiff Independent Film Festival at Chapter. Immediately afterwards at 7pm Steve and I will be hosting one of our inimitable Skwigly Animation Quizzes that are always good fun, so be sure to check that out also.
That morning Laura-Beth's new film Boris-Noris (on which I helped out hither and thither) will also be playing at CIFF as part of the Animated Family Shorts screenings put together by Cloth Cat. Keep your eyes on the online program in the coming weeks for more specifics and ticket info. The film has had a great start so far, already having screened in the States and the UK with other upcoming screenings including 7 Petits Cailloux (Tinqueux, France) and Zlín Film Festival (Kudlov, Czech Republic).
Eef, that was a big one. Okay folks, go back to enjoying your Sunday.

Monday, 27 March 2017


Latest festival updates for Klementhro, the little paddlin' ginger that could (even though nobody asked him to). First off in April you can catch the film in Paris at this year's edition of Le Court Nous Tient. Our man Klementhro will be poking his head out during the Competition 2 screening at 4pm April 11th. In keeping with the quasi-nautical theme of the film the event takes place on La Baleine Blanche. Très bon!
Also an update on the film's participation in the Cardiff Animation Nights competition strand of CIFF in May. In anticipation of the announcement of the full schedule soon, it's looking like Klementhro will play in the Animation 2 screening that will take place on Saturday May 6th around 5:15pm (TBC) at Chapter Arts Centre. Will keep you posted with more events when the time comes, but all told it's shaping up to be another fun weekend.
With Klementhro soon to be old news, here's the YouTube version of the Sunscapades clip I put up over the weekend. This is an ever-so-slightly longer excerpt, see if you can spot a line that I've ultimately jettisoned from the final film:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sunshine Days

An evening dedicated to making a child scream in terror is surely an evening well spent
With an optimistic, self-set completion deadline for the end of May, my latest film Sunscapades is starting to come together. Conisdering the last couple of my films have been pretty quiet affairs, I wanted to pay tribute to the faster-paced, economically-produced cartoons of my youth, something more in the vein of the Wobble Box series I worked on, or my old Jim Norton animation.
What a ham
This film came from some random scribblings I did around the same time as Klementhro and is one of three shorts I've outlined that largely revolve around the antics of mischievous triplets Milly, Lily and Billy. For now I don't think the story needs to be elaborated on, but here's a first little glimpse:

What rotten thing could they have done?
I'd like to express much gratitude to three wonderful ladies of animation - who make up Weird Eye Collective - Laura-Beth and Fiona (who contributed some superb voice work) as well as Hannah who's working on the backgrounds. Seeing this first sequence more-or-less done I have a particularly good feeling about how the film is turning out and I'm really looking forward to putting it out in the world when it's done. As always keep checking back here for updates and whatnot.