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!

Monday, 9 December 2019


In these final months of its festival eligibility there are two events left on my wishlist that I'm waiting on before I start thinking about an online release for Sunscapades. One of them - the fantastic Anima Brussels Animation Film Festival - has just announced their official selection and I'm very happy to see they picked it for their Animated Nights category. Especially humbling to see it in such good company, alongside some brilliant new work by Erin Kim, Laura Jayne Hodkin, Fokion Xenos and Mirai Mizue among others. Don't have the specifics just yet but the festival runs from February 21st to March 1st; fingers crossed I'll be able to head over to this one in person.
Some non-film news is that I've just put out the first single from my upcoming sixth Struwwelpeter album My Head Is Too Small For My Body that I'll hopefully have done by mid-2020. This one features special guest guitars by my old chum Ed Richardson and is a Spotify exclusive so it can't be bought or streamed elsewhere, at least for the time being. Give 'er a whirl:
I'd always suspected there was a delightfully corny action movie montage song in me somewhere and I imagine that working on Chuck Steel a couple years' back knocked it loose. For the b-side I even did a special "80s Movie Montage" remix for it to amp up the cheese.
After taking a brief break from being on sale after Black Friday, my book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films is once again, yep, on sale! From now through to the new year you can get it at 20% off if you order direct from CRC Press, and if you act fast you may even get it in time for the holidays. This is another publisher-wide sale so it applies to their other books - and if you get two or more of then it's a meaty 25% off! Plus free shipping, of course. What are you actually waiting for?

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Passing the time

Just a heads-up that if you missed the repeat screening of BBC4's Secrets of British Animation, in which I occasionally appear as a sort of beardy linking device, it will be available to UK viewers via BBC iPlayer for the next month or so. Enjoy! It's got dirty bits and all.
With Black Friday moodily skulking around the corner there'll soon be another opportunity to get your mitts on my book Independent Animation: Directing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films at a reduced price if you pick it up directly from the publisher. Starting November 29th through to December 2nd it will be available at a whopping 30% off with free shipping on top. Indulge your seasonal consumerism and buy copies for all your independently-inclined animation pals! They'll love ya for it.
This one has nothing to do with me save for being a gushy little fanboy but what. The. Ever. Loving. Fuck. Are Faith No More counting down to? This appeared on their site a couple days ago after years of radio silence and I'm ever-so-slightly losing my mind. Roll on 7pm...
(UPDATE: It's a tour! Hurrah!)

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Next Up

A couple of news dribbles - firstly I now have specifics on the participation of Sunscapades in the 18th edition of Magma - Mostra di Cinema Breve in Acireale, Italy. You can catch the film in the first International Competition screening on Friday November 22nd 8:30pm at the Margherita Multisala alongside some brilliant new shorts including Karina Paciorkowska's You Are Overreacting, Justine Vuylsteker's Embraced and Kids by Michael Frei.
The Skwigly events at last week's Manchester Animation Festival went down a storm, and for those who swung by that might want to learn more about the various films that were screened there are a few interviews up with some of the filmmakers involved: Sam Shaw (You Died!)Sine and Imge Özbilge (#21xoxo), Erin Kim (Revenge Story), Yves Paradis (M52) and Shenja Tatschke (5 Reasons Why I Don't Trust Jellyfish). There are more to come so be sure to keep your eyes on our Interviews section.
Massive kudos to Jen, Steve and Greg from MAF on another brilliant year and much gratitude to everyone who came to the screening and quiz as well as the HOME tech team for getting us up and running.
Lastly it looks like Secrets of British Animation, the BBC4 documentary that occasionally features my big talking head in unnecessarily-full HD waffling on about the virtues of dirty cartoons, will be getting itself a repeat screening this Sunday at 10pm. Pencil it in!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Sunday Threesome

Another wee trifecta of news bits for your waning weekend. Firstly I've learned that Sunscapades has itself another November screening coming up. Just before its outings at the Norfolk Film Festival and Magma - Mostra di Cinema Breve the film will return to Australia again as part of the same Late Night Bizarre programme it had been touring around in over the summer. This time around it will be at the Newcastle International Animation Festival. Again, this is in Australia, so all you Geordies out there can stand down. The event takes place on Saturday November 16th 10:30pm at UoNSOCI. Wish I could be there!
Earlier that week and on our own tumultuous, frothy shores, the fifth edition of the Manchester Animation Festival will take place. Having grown in ambition and scope exponentially each year since it kicked off, the 2019 edition looks to be another belter with three crammed days of animationey doings. Personal highlights include a masterclass with Michaël Dudok de Wit, a showcase from the Tricky Women team as well as behind-the-scenes looks at recent features Klaus and Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon.
As with previous editions however you'd be a bit daft to miss the cheap-as-free (to passholders, cheap as a measly £6 to everyone else) Skwigly Screening that I've been beavering away on. This is a great opportunity to catch an hour's worth of amazing films you won't be able to catch elsewhere at the fest and as ever it's been an absolute joy to put together. The full line-up is as follows: 
  • Getting Started  (Dir. William Crook/Switzerland/2019)
  • Five Reasons Why I Don’t Trust Jellyfish (Dir. Shenja Tatschke/Germany/2019)
  • Morning (Dir. Vojtěch Domlátil/Czech Republic/2019)
  • M52 (Dir. Yves Paradis/Germany/2019)
  • Revenge Story (Dir. Erin Kim/USA/2019)
  • You Died (Dir. Sam Shaw/UK/2019)
  • Creepy Pasta Salad (Dir. Lauren Orme/UK/2019)
  • The Last Man on Earth Sat Alone in a Room (Dir. Junyi Xiao/USA/2019)
  • Five Minutes To Sea (Dir. Natalia Mirzoyan/Russia/2018)
  • #21XOXO (Dir. Imge Özbilge, Sine Özbilge/Belgium/2019)
  • Moist (Dir. Greg Doble/Canada/2019)
The screening will take place 5pm Wednesday November 13th at the Event Space in Manchester's HOME. As tradition dictates, right afterwards at 7pm Steve and I will be inflicting another notorious Skwigly Quiz on festivalgoers, so be sure to stick around for that and be in with a chance to scoff up some amazing animation trinkets and doodads.
On the subject of Skwigly, episode 94 of the seemingly-unending Skwigly Animation Podcast went up this past week. In this one we discuss the strong critical response to Farmageddon, the lukewarm critical response to The Addams Family remake, the growing fondness for Laika’s Missing Link, the fight for the South Park streaming rights, more MAF highlights, the British Animation Awards and Autour de Minuit's Rosto graphic novel campaign.
We also welcome special guest Alex Dowding, producer at Amsterdam-based production company Submarine whose projects include the recent Amazon Prime original series Undone, an international co-production with The Tornante Company and Minnow Mountain created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy. Prior to working at Submarine, Alex’s work in animation has spanned a range of production management and supervisor roles across such projects as Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Minions, The Tale of Despereux and The Lorax.
Direct download this episode here or stream below: