Monday, 14 October 2019

Once you pop...

https://soundcloud.com/skwigly/sets/skwigly-at-encounters-2019
My series of Encounters 2019 podcast minisodes over on Skwigly have wrapped up, so if you've not yet treated yourself to some animation inspiration since the last post then tuck right in:
In episode 2 (download) we hear from attending filmmakers whose films participated in the International Competition programme Animation 2: Desire:
In episode 3 (download) we hear from filmmakers participating in Animation 3: HerStory:
Episode 4 (download) are filmmakers in Animation 4: GetReal:
Episode 5 (download) is Animation 5: Ubiquitous Chip:
And finally in episode 6 (download) are the filmmakers from Animation 6: Fake News!:
A cracking bunch of films from a cracking bunch of folks. It was a real pleasure to get some time which all of them and I hope you all get a kick out of it too. Many thanks to Encounters programmer Kieran Argo for bringing me on board again to conduct the sessions and serve on preselection - also thanks to Ewan Dunford at the Watershed for recording the final session.
I've also put together a handy playlist of all six episodes over on our SoundCloud channel which you can also stream below should you so desire:

Monday, 30 September 2019

Octoberfests (2019 edition)

There's a small smattering of opportunities to see Sunscapades out in the world this coming October, so for those of you who were all "Where can I see Sunscapades out in the world this coming October?" then this is the post for you, boy-howdy.
First up will be this week at Animacine - Agreste Animation Festival that takes place in Pernambuco, Brazil. The film will be part of a special international shorts programme curated by Sávio Leite of the MUMIA Underground World Animation Festival which it also participated in last year. Swing by 2pm this coming Thursday, October 3rd - more info available here.
https://www.fantasmorlando.com/index.cfm?ID=55
The week after Sunscapades will be gleefully among the line-up of the inaugural Shock Reel Cinema Film Festival, a new event rolling out this year as part of the longer-running Fantasm Orlando horror convention that goes from October 11th-13th. Pretty sad I can't make the trek as it looks like a fun one (Cliff Clavin's gonna be there, fer cryin' out loud) but keep an eye on the site for specifics.
https://www.komedia.co.uk/bath/film/shorts-in-focus/
Later on and a little closer to home I'll be presenting the film at Shorts In Focus which takes place in Bath at the Komedia and Laura-Beth will also be there with Boris-Noris. This is more of a show-and-tell type event that looks to be in the vein of the old CineMe screenings I used to be involved with, so hopefully will be fun. It'll kick off 7:30pm on Monday October 21st if you fancy popping along.
https://benmitchellblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Encounters
Also on the subject of festivals, the Encounters Short Film Festival (at which Sunscapades screened last year) has just wrapped up its 25th edition. This time around I was on the preselection jury on top of hosting the animation filmmaker Q'n'A sessions so after a pretty intense spell of film-oriented mayhem I'm a little fried right now. It was however enormous fun and a real treat to spend some time with some amazing new and established talents, so kudos to Kieran, Rich et al for getting it put together.
http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/688804105-skwigly-skwigly-at-encounters-2019-podcast-minisode-animation-1-whatthe.mp3
To help alleviate the post-fest comedown I'm happy to say I'll be putting out each of the sessions as podcast minisodes, starting today with Animation 1: WhatThe? In this episode we hear from directors Ross Hogg (4:3), Rebecca Blöcher (Lickalike) and Adriaan Lokman (Flow) as well as Andi Haller, who served as sound designer on Thomas Renoldner's Don’t Know What. Download here or give it a stream below:
I'm aiming to get out five - possibly six, fingers crossed - episodes out over the next fortnight, so keep your eyes on Skwigly for more as it comes.

Friday, 20 September 2019

"Rabbits? Where? Ooh, wow!"


https://struwwelpeter.bandcamp.com/album/agnosticaust
Following last week's streaming preview the remastered reissue of my 2006 Struwwelpeter album Agnosticaust is now available to buy. You can get your hands on it (not literally, digital only releases from here on out) pretty much everywhere that sells music but I'm inclined to point you in the direction of Bandcamp as that version features an extra five bonus songs. You can check out the whole album before you buy below:
The extra cuts are Tom Waits For No One (hidden track on the original CD release), the video remix of Let Slip, a remastered version of the original album mix of TGI Nancy Friday and two previously unreleased live performances of The Rachel Capers and Laughing At A Wall. I spoils ya!
http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/683571168-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-93.mp3
Catapulting ourselves into the present day, in the 93rd episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast I catch up with Lauren Orme, Festival Director of the Cardiff Animation Festival, founder of Cardiff Animation Nights and co-founder/Creative Director at Picl Animation. Lauren has also recently finished her short film Creepy Pasta Salad with Winding Snake Productions that screens next week at Bristol’s Encounters festival in the competition programme Herstory on Thursday September 26th at noon.
I also speak with David Hutchinson of Wildbrain to discuss navigating the often-overwhelming world of online animation having recently created the YouTube series Boy and Dragon.
Finally Steve chats with Connor Heaney and John Walsh of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation to discuss the various upcoming Harryhausen 100 events in honour of Ray Harryhausen’s centenary and John’s book Harryhausen: The Lost Movies. Ray also makes a special cameo appearance from beyond the grave, which is sort of fitting when you consider his body of work. As always you can give it a stream (below) or download for keepsies.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Stop saying 'Lund'

http://www.fff.se/screening/an-animated-cocktail-short-film-package/
Bit o' Sunscapades news for ya today. It's going to be screening in the lunderful land of Lund later this month as part of the programme for the 25th anniversary edition of the Lund International Fantasy Film Festival. Lund!
The Lundtastic screening will be An Animated Cocktail that takes place on September 29th 1:30pm and marks the film's Swedish premiere.
Happily it also marks the latest of several pairings up with Anna Mantzaris's Good Intentions which also features music by Phil Brookes. Y'all should hire him, dude's clearly a good-luck charm.
Sadly I can't make it in person but it looks like a wonderful fest - they're even screening Hellraiser fer crissakes - so any Swedes in the area be sure to check it out.

Friday, 13 September 2019

I like pink

Original phonograph cylinder release
Some good news in that this month sees me finally ticking off a big ol' ticklist item. What with physical media being pretty much utterly redundant when it comes to independent music distribution, I'd wanted to migrate my back catalogue of albums to the platforms I've been using more recently. The slight issue being that everything prior to 2010 was mixed and mastered pretty abysmally and it's been hard to justify putting too much time toward sprucing up old music that was never that big of a deal to begin with.  So getting them all remastered and freely available on today's newfangled streaming platforms will be an ongoing, protracted endeavour - but one that's finally underway.
https://open.spotify.com/album/7K2zaAlLgIp7UPCSnOgfWl?si=pDyEWrECRYSHDCl5FkQSpQ
A week today will see the rerelease of my 2006 Struwwelpeter album Agnosticaust. This has been out-of-print for over five years since the CD sales dwindled to non-existence but back in the very brief days of MySpace convincing its youthful patrons to arbitrarily buy anything with the word 'indie' in its metadata this album did pretty well, relatively-speaking. It's a bit of a shame that I subsequently made two far better albums (The Book of Women and The Birdcage) that never quite found a similar wave to ride, sales-wise, but revisiting this record having not heard it in a very long time I was relieved to find it didn't make me puke blood with embarrassment. That being said, it took a lot of time to get it remixed to a listenable standard alongside the newer records. I won't bore you with a track-by-track breakdown; basically it's a bit louder, a bit fuller and some of the multitracking on the vocals has been redone from scratch as they were a rushed mess at times.
It will be available to buy from Bandcamp and various other outlets on the 20th but in the meantime you can already stream it on a variety of platforms including Spotify:
Despite the revamp it's still a pretty warts-and-all, no-budget affair with some ludicrously corny moments (inexplicable white-boi rap moments? Check!) but there's hopefully some stuff in there to enjoy. Mainly I'm glad it's back out in the world for the fond memories of a time when I could just spend my days just slapping a record together with my mates.
Well, my mates and that one bag of shit who stole my rare Dillinger Escape Plan EP for drug money, but hey - water, bridge etc. Needless to say I'm glad my social circle these days is mostly people who make cartoons and drink tea.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Getting Lippy

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/671456375-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-92.mp3
In episode 92 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we look back at 30 years of Lip Synch, the game-changing series of short films from Aardman Animations. A short film ‘package’ produced by Aardman for Channel 4 in 1989, Lip Synch expanded on the techniques used for earlier shorts series Animated Conversations and Conversation Pieces, consisting of five early outings for now-established directors: War Story, Going Equipped (Dir. Peter Lord), Ident (Dir. Richard Starzak), Next (Dir. Barry Purves) and the Oscar-winning Creature Comforts (Dir. Nick Park, later of Wallace and Gromit fame).
Following on from our 25th anniversary coverage, to mark the occasion special guest host Alex Dudok de Wit brings us an exclusive chat with Peter Lord, Barry Purves, David Sproxton and Richard 'Golly' Starzak.
Also discussed in this episode: The enduring legacy of the animation great Richard Williams – known for such industry milestones as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Animator’s Survival Kit and The Thief and the Cobbler – who sadly passed away this month.
Stream above or download here.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Out in the world

https://ositio.com.br/eventos/o-sitio-apresenta-mostra-mumia/

A couple of quick screening updates as I sensed the world was proverbially chomping at the proverbial bit. Firstly Sunscapades will be getting itself another Brazilian outing at O Sítio Art and Technology in Florianopolis as part of a special presentation curated by the fine folks at the MUMIA Underground World Animation Festival, who previously screened the film in competition during their 16th edition last year. O Sítio Apresenta: Mostra Múmia takes place August 27th at 7:30pm and is free as free, so be sure to get your fine Brazilian posteriors over there.
https://sakhalinfilmfestival.ru/en/programma/2019/short-animation-for-adults/lapsus/

A rarer event these days is a public screening for our old pal Klementhro, who'll be paddling over to Russian shores in the nearer future for the Sakhalin International Film Festival: On The Edge. You can catch the film as part of the Short Animation For Adults screening at Komsomolets Hall 10:30pm this Sunday August 25th, then repeated at 5:30pm August 28th at the Chekhov Center.
That's all I got. Scram.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Love, Death and Rabbits

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/668215769-skwigly-intimate-animation-3-01.mp3
In the first episode of a brand new season of our podcast series Intimate AnimationLaura-Beth and I meet illustrator, animator and designer Caitlin McCarthy. Since graduating from Camberwell Caitlin’s work in illustration quickly expanded to experimental moving image projects and animation, ultimately leading to her involvement with London-based production studio Strange Beast – alongside such artists as previous podcast guest Anna Ginsburg. Having created animation for clients including VOW, Red Bull, School of Life, Nike and New York Public Library, Caitlin’s work also often deals with themes of love and intimacy, includes animated segments for The Female Orgasm, an episode of the Vox/Netflix production Explained as well as the independent short films Paraphilia and Coldsore, the latter of which will be screening at Bristol’s Encounters Festival next month.
Also discussed in this episode: The curiously short lifespan of Lisa Hanawalt's promising new adult animated sitcom Tuca and Bertie as well as ongoing Netflix shows Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth and Love Death + Robots. We also pay tribute to the late great animation legend Richard Williams, whose body of work includes bringing the iconic modern animation ‘bombshell’ Jessica Rabbit to life. Download here or stream above.
http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/222985464-skwigly-podcast-33.mp3 
On that subject it's been a very emotionally-charged couple of days seeing on social media just how impactful the work of Richard Williams has been and how many top-tier players in the industry owe a debt of gratitude to his work and legacy, from The Animator's Survival Kit to Who Framed Roger Rabbit and beyond.
I was enormously privileged to get to speak with him during my coverage of the Encounters Film Festival's 2015 edition at which he premiered Prologue, an Oscar/BAFTA-nominated offshoot of a continuing passion project made at his Aardman base where he spent his final years. This would sadly turn out to be his final appearance on the podcast, but as with all our interactions he was warm, witty, open and honest and I remain immensely grateful for the opportunity. We'll be discussing his work more in the next episode of the podcast but in the meantime I wanted to give this chat another share - again you can stream below or download here.
The last time I saw Richard in person was a year or so ago during a presentation of Aardman's character animation course graduates in which he gave a very impassioned speech about how impressed he was with their work, which I can only imagine made their decades.
He will not be forgotten anytime soon, that's for sure.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Round Up

Howdy folks. Still kicking around, just about, although as ever there's barely enough time in the day to get on here with updates. So let's sneeze 'em all out at once, shall we?
Hey, guess what's on sale again? That's right, until the end of the month you can snag yourself a copy of my book Independent Animation: Directing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films at the publisher's site with 20% off (25% off if you buy more than one book, as per). It's the ideal tome for anyone out there who's considering making their own film and is after some handy advice to make it as unique and impactful as possible - and not just from my mediocre ass, but the likes of fully proper animation champions like Adam Elliot, Kirsten Lepore, Bill Plympton, Signe Baumane, Ruth Lingford, PES, Robert Morgan, Tonko House, the late great Rosto and many many more. Plus it's crammed with hundreds of byoodeefull colour pictures if all that word-readin' hurts your head.
Speakin' of grabbing up high-quality Ben Mitchell product while it's on sale, the Nintendo Switch versions of the brilliant Bertram Fiddle games from my pals Rumpus Animation (a prominent case study in the book that also happens to boast my various attempts at cartoon voicery, see above) are currently part of the Nintendo online sale with Episode 1: A Dreadly Business a whopping 75% off and Episode 2: A Bleaker Predicklement an also-pretty-decent 51% off. That's chump change, ya chumps, so grab 'em up! It also appears that Bertram Fiddle has been nominated at this year's UK Games Fund Awards in the category 'They Delivered', so fingers crossed they get something shiny come September.
https://shyguys.co.uk
While most of the spring and summer has been dedicated to creating visuals for a TV series here in the UK, I thought I'd share a few recent projects from my day job at the wonderful Shy Guys Studios here in Bristol that are now online. I didn't design any of these but they've been great in helping me get to grips more with rigged character work.
https://shyguys.co.uk/work/the-costs-of-whistleblowing/
The Costs of Whistleblowing - this is something we did for Queens Management School with some cautionary advice for employees who are contemplating speaking out against workplace skullduggery and suchlike.
https://shyguys.co.uk/work/geoff-needs-an-explainer/
Geoff Needs an Explainer - this is essentially a promo for the studio itself. If you like what you see then be sure to hire them so they can keep us busy. Design by Ryan Biercewicz.
https://shyguys.co.uk/work/adulting-cards/
Milestones for New Mums - nice little gift idea (for mums annoyed that their new offspring are hogging the limelight) and definitely on the funner end of the commercials production spectrum.  While I did the bulk of the character animation for the first two films I did about a third of it for this one, chiefly the first scene and the odd shot here and there afterward. Alas I can't take credit for the poo-nami which is the show-stealer. Design by Harrison Simmonds.
https://shyguys.co.uk/anxiety-tips/
Practical Tips for Dealing with Anxiety - we put this one together as an internal project alongside our commissioned work. Again I only did some of the final animation with this one, all in all it's turned out really nicely so knock wood it'll resonate with folks. Design by Harrison Simmonds.
https://miaf.net/events/late-night-bizarre/
Sunscapades update (well, amendment) - things definitely seem to be slowing down on the festivals front for my little misfit film but there are still a couple on the horizon. The next event to play it will be the Melbourne International Animation Festival in the Late Night Bizarre programme, although the screening will be at the Treasury Theatre (still at 9pm on the 19th) and not the AMCI as previously thought. Also there will be a repeat screening at 10pm the following night at the same venue. How splendid!
Later on in the month Sunscapades will be getting its first African screening (hopefully for real this time) at the Accra Animation Film Festival as part of a special Best of Encounters presentation, following the film's inclusion in the Encounters Short Film Festival here in Bristol last year. The screening will take place on Monday July 29th 5pm - for venue info and whatnot check out their Facebook page.
Speaking of Encounters, this year's edition will be launching its competition programme soon so be sure to keep your eyes on their site. As part of the preselection team for the animation section of the festival I can safely say there's some stunning work that will be on offer and I hope to see some of you fine folks there in September!
I think that's all I gots for now, will be back when the next sneeze builds up probably.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Shoulder Rubbing

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/641998422-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-91.mp3
In episode 91 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we talk through some of the film highlights of this year’s Annecy festival award winners, including new work from Bruno Collet, Ludovic Houplain, Thomas Renoldner, Pedro Casavecchia and Daria Kashcheeva.
I'm also delighted to welcome special guest Regina Pessoa, whose latest film Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days picked up the special award for Best Original Music as well as the Jury Award for a Short Film following its debut earlier this month at Animafest Zagreb.
We also speak with Jérémy Clapin, another double-winner at this year’s edition whose new feature film I Lost My Body won the Audience Award and the Cristal for a Feature Film. Having also picked up the Nespresso Grand Prize after screening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week the film has been picked up for distribution by Netflix.
Also discussed in this episode: Annecy’s swelling footfall, making Aladdin ‘hip’, when post-production works against animation and the plight of long-running Brazilian festival Anima Mundi, who are presently raising funds to ensure next month’s edition can go ahead.
Stream below or direct download: