Friday, 3 April 2020

Keepin' on
Howdy folks, hope everyone out there's having a fun (or at least tolerable) lockdown. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to stock up on some reading material, and fortunately the fine folks at CRC Press have kicked off another site-wide sale running until the end of May that knocks 20% off their paperback titles - including my own Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films! See, it's not all gloom and misery after all.
If you're not too wild about having things delivered then there's some even better news, as the eBook edition is available at a whopping 35% off!
On the subject of keeping ourselves entertained by wonderful indie animation, be sure to check out our brand new podcast series Skwigly Film Club, a new, quicker-turnaround affair in which myself, Steve, Laura-Beth and other members of the Skwigly team discuss animated feature films as we watch them (as such they can work as a sort of commentary track if you fancy it). In episode 1 our focus is Don Hertzfeldt's wonderful, hilarious and moving It's Such a Beautiful Day which the director has generously made available to watch for free for the time being.
In the episodes to come we're hoping to get listeners involved so be sure to keep your eyes on our Twitter and the hashtag #skwiglyfilmclub to see how you can get involved. Other ways you might want to interact with Skwigly during these housebound times include getting involved in our Tuesday evening chatroom sessions as well as #SkwiglySelfPromotions on Wednesdays. For more info check out this article and to hear the podcast you can direct download here or stream below:

Thursday, 19 March 2020

News from Isolationville

Some sad and inevitable (but 100% understandable given the circumstances) news to kick off with - due to the COVID-19 crisis the Cardiff Animation Festival scheduled for April has been postponed for the foreseeable future. It's a pointedly unfair situation that puts a lot of hard working folks in a tight spot and it's a rotten feeling to not be able to do anything about it, but knock wood it will resume as normal next year.
It always bears repeating that the work Lauren and the CAF/CAN team have done over the years as far as keeping the Welsh (and beyond) animation community alive is absolutely staggering and this was set to be another belter of an event. I'm sure what the future holds will be bigger, brighter and better than ever. In the meantime much love to all the brilliant people working in events organisation who've been unfairly caught in the middle of this storm.
Along with a major festival scheduled for May at which I had hoped to participate on the International Competition Jury, as well as a couple of unexpected final screenings for Sunscapades, said storm includes a number of other upcoming events having to outright cancel that would have featured Speed, and to be honest any planned outings for the film over the Spring or Summer are looking increasingly unlikely.
This of course is a microscopic concern compared to the miasma of anxieties that we're currently facing and knock wood things will be on the up again before too long.
In the latest episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we have a go at taking things to a cheerier place under the circumstances by looking back at last week's British Animation Awards, which probably marks the last indoor industry gathering we'll be seeing in the UK for a little while. Having recently been taken over by Helen Brunsdon and Kieran Argo since Jayne Pilling retired, the 2020 event proved to be a success and Steve was able to grab some inebriated green room interviews with a handful of the winners:
  • Richard Phelan/Will Becher (Aardman's Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon, Best Long Form)
  • Giovanna Utichi (Blue Zoo's A Whale's Tale, Best Original Short Form)
  • Danny Capozzi (Aardman's New Mindset, Best Social Good)
  • Sarah Cox (Aardman's Shaun the Sheep, Best Series)
  • Peter Lord (Head of Aardman)
  • Roxi Linklater (Aardman rigger and winner of the first BAA Lamb Award)
You can stream the podcast below or direct download (you can also check out the full list of winners here):
Not much else to say really, I expect things will be a bit quiet here for a little while. Stay safe, folks.

Friday, 13 March 2020

In the latest episode of the third season of our Skwigly podcast series Intimate Animation, Laura-Beth and I meet director/animator Natasza Cetner, whose RCA graduation film Nigel was recently released online as a Short of the Week Premiere and Vimeo Staff Pick to much enthusiasm.
Using quasi-traditional 2D animation approaches, the film is an inventive spin on the story of Nigel, a lonely gannet who hopelessly falls in love with a concrete statue. Serving as a reflection of our own misconceptions in love, the film has screened at numerous festivals including LIAF, PSIAF, Anifilm, Animocje, Tricky Women, PÖFF Shorts, Animac and Animateka as well as being written up on outlets including Creative Review, It’s Nice That and Directors Notes.
Also discussed in this episode: Selected love’n’sex-themed films and event highlights from the recent Anima Festival in Brussels and new shorts to watch out for at the upcoming Cardiff Animation Festival.
Direct download here or stream below:

Friday, 6 March 2020

What will or won't be
A little backtrack on the last post that went up here, it turns out that Speed won't be seeing its Japanese premiere this month at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival as the event has unfortunately been cancelled due to the growing COVID-19 coronavirus concerns. It's disappointing but I completely understand their position in a difficult time and it's an honour to have been officially selected for such a highly-regarded festival in intent at least. They haven't ruled out the possibility of a future screening outside of the proposed dates so I'll keep you folks posted if that comes along.
Cheerier news is that the Cardiff Animation Festival, scheduled for the first week of April at the fantastic Chapter arts venue, is so far still going ahead and has this week unveiled its full programme of events. As well as Speed being part of their Shorts 3 screening (2:45pm April 2nd and 12:45pm April 5th) and Laura-Beth's new film The Gift in Shorts 2 (1pm April 2nd and 1:45pm April 3rd), there's a ton of brilliant events to check out. A few highlights off the top of my head are an Aardman exhibition, special editions of Cardiff Animation Nights and Animation Grill, talks by animation talents Lorraine Lordan, Simon Chong, Avgousta Zoureldi and Kyle Legall as well as panels on storytelling, producing animation and industry inclusion (on the back of a very insightful recent Skwigly piece by Tanya Scott, who'll be participating).
As with the first edition of CAF I'll also be hosting the Animator's Brunch sessions along with Laura-Beth on the Saturday and Sunday morning at 10am, so swing by to hear about the amazing shorts being shown from the filmmakers themselves.
Passes are sold out but individual tickets are still available so act fast!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

East and West
More good news for my latest film Speed, it will be part of the Official Selection for next month's Tokyo Anime Award Festival. The event looks absolutely spectacular and it burns a little that I won't be able to head over to Japan and enjoy it in person but as ever I'm enormously grateful to be involved at all.
Speed will be part of the Short Animation Competition Slot 3 alongside some absolute belters including Osman Cerfon's I'm Going Out For Cigarettes, Sarah Van Den Boom's Raymonde or the Vertical Escape and Michael Frei's Kids. Other films festivalgoers should keep an eye out for are Daria Kashcheeva's Daughter, Regina Pessoa's Uncle Thomas: Accounting For The Days and Ivan Rabbiosi's Iron Me
Slot 3 will be screening at 12:15pm March 13th and 5:20pm the following day at Shin-Bungeiza
It's also worth mentioning that this coming weekend my previous film Sunscapades will be getting probably its final major festival screening at the Anima Brussels Animation Film Festival. Following the announcement of its inclusion in the Official Selection back in December I now know it will be part of the Animated Night marathon screening that kicks off 9:30pm on Saturday 29th and wraps up in the wee hours of the 1st. Sunscapades will be playing fairly late in the programme so bring along whatever stimulants best keep you from nodding off.
It's looking like an absolute corker of a festival and you can swing by Skwigly to check out some of the programme highlights, special guests and industry days on offer. Laura-Beth and I will also be there from the 26th so pop over and say hello if you spot us.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Nothin' But Love
I'm extremely happy to say that the latest Official Selection for Speed will be at the Cardiff Animation Festival, which returns for its second edition this April. The first edition was absolutely tremendous and immediately cemented it as an absolute favourite so it's fantastic to see it continue and even more so to be involved. The film is in grand company too as they've also selected some absolute crackers including Laura-Beth's new film The Gift, to which I contributed some bits and bobs. Although I don't yet know the exact dates/times, The Gift will be part of Shorts 2: Body with Speed in Shorts 3: Heart. Check out their website for updates as they come and hopefully see some of you there!
In the latest episode of our podcast Intimate Animation we meet UK-based director/animator Elizabeth Hobbs, whose 2018 short film I’m OK, produced with the National Film Board of Canada and Animate Projects, explores the passionate and tempestuous love affair between Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka and his lover Alma Mahler.
On top of a BAFTA nomination in 2019, the film has screened at such major festivals as Clermont Ferrand, Annecy, OIAF, LIAF and EIFF and is presently in contention for the British Animation Awards Public Choice alongside her more recent work The Flounder, created for The Happiness Machine project.
Also discussed in this episode: Alternative approaches to animation education, Oscar contenders and love-themed films to look out for during both the British Animation Awards Public Choice screenings and the upcoming Anima Festival in Brussels. Stream above or direct download here.
On the subject of interviews with fantastic animation wimmins, you might want to check out a Q&A with Joanna Hepworth, who's been working up the road from me this past year or so as one of the main Animation Directors on Love Monster, a new series for CBeebies adapted from the books series by Rachel Bright. Give it a read for some insight into the unique production approach (the animation is being simultaneously produced in London at Karrot and Bristol's A Productions), working in CelAction and how the show aims to engage its audience. Having known Jo since I started in animation way back when, it's been a uniquely wonderful and inspiring thing watching her work go from strength to strength over the years and I'm certain even bigger things are yet to come. Be sure to check out the show on BBC iPlayer.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Knockin' About
The British Animation Awards Public Choice screenings are continuing over the next few weeks and, following an encouraging response to the first handful of January screenings, here's where you'll be able to catch my new film Speed (nestled in amongst Programme 2) in February: 
On the heels of its premiere last month I'm also happy to say that things are starting to percolate on the festivals front. There are a few events coming up but right now the only one I can announce is the Canterbury Anifest that takes place February 29th to March 1st. This is the first time anything I've done has been involved in this particular festival (although Boris-Noris did screen there a little while back) so it's lovely news indeed. Speed will play in the Shortlist Screening 2 on Sunday March 1st at noon in the Main Hall of Augustine House.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Spoilt for Choice
Although it's yet to embark on its festival rounds, my latest film Speed has managed to snag itself a place among the many fantastic recent UK-produced animated shorts in contention for the British Animation Awards! Ahead of the main event which takes place March 12th at BFI Southbank, the Public Choice screenings (comprised of three programmes, with Speed playing in the second) will be taking place at a variety of venues and universities across the UK over the next couple of months. Seeing what it's up against I'm honestly not holding out hope it'll get the popular vote, but I'm very happy to be tagging along and fingers crossed this is a good omen for how it does down the line.
The screening dates/venues for January are as follows:
If none of the above are close enough to you be sure to check back in February for the next batch!
Also this month it'll get a little preview outing over in Spain as part of Letto Studio's Micro Festival in Madrid. If you're in the area be sure to check out the festival's Micro Comedia 1 programme which takes place 6pm January 25th and 1pm January 26th at the Sala Equis.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Speeding into the new year

Happy end o' decade, everyone!
One thing I'm sure people are sick of is my propensity toward self-congratulatory posts about Sunscapades being screened at festivals. So in the spirit of turning over a new leaf, I'm going in to 2020 with a self-congratulatory post about my new film Speed being screened at festivals instead!
Lol I'm a cock.
That's right, I made a new film. Sneakily and in the background, enabled by the wonderful folks who run Shy Guys Studios. I'll hold back on the major details but needless to say it's pretty different tonally and graphically from Sunscapades (or any of my films really, though I suppose closer to Klementhro in terms of minimalist absurdism) and is actually a pretty old idea I came up with during my first trip to ITFS Stuttgart but I could never find a visual approach that fit until I started playing around with DUIK, a pretty incredible free character-rigging system developed for After Effects.
The first festival to officially announce its involvement is the brilliant British Shorts festival in Berlin. This marks my third consecutive of year of inclusion after they screened Klementhro in 2018 and Sunscapades last year, so it's safe to say it's an event I have a lot of love for. As before I'm in tremendous company, with other selected films including new and recent work by Lauren Orme, Robert Morgan, Anna Mantzaris, Caitlin McCarthy, Ben Steer and Laura Jayne Hodkin among others.
The screening will take place 8pm Sunday 19th at the Sputnik Kino at 7:30pm. Danke, chaps!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Xmas Podding
Got a double-whammy of seasonally-seasoned Skwigly Animation Podcasts to help stave off the inevitable anxiety that comes from being around your kinfolk this time o' year.
In episode 95 we hear from Sergio Pablos, whose film Klaus has been the talk of the industry since it premiered on Netflix a few weeks ago. Rightly so, as it really does push the envelope as far as what we can do with 2D animation these days.
In episode 96 we welcome back Robin Shaw of Lupus Films. I first chatted with Robin way back in 2012 for his work on The Snowman and The Snowdog and the studio have been cranking out hits ever since, including We're Going On A Bear Hunt and Ethel and Ernest.
Also discussed in these episodes: MAF highlights, dubious dubbing, Playstation plagiarism, the inevitable shitness of Disney's 'live-action' remakes, animation-themed (sort of) honeymoons, as well as a look at the animated shorts in the running for 2020 Oscar and BAFTA nominations, including work by previous Skwigly interviewees/pals Regina Pessoa, Theodore Ushev, Lauren Orme, Floor Adams, Ross Hogg, Bruno Collet and Naaman Azhari.
Give 'em a listen below or download for laters here (episode 95) and here (episode 96).
Remember how nearly I decade ago I made a film about Xmas? And how I didn't shut up about it for ages? Weren't those great times? Well, I'm bringin' 'em back with a cheeky look at how it came together. I know, I know, I shouldn't have, but sometimes the holiday spirit just oozes out of me uncontrollably. Enjoy!