Monday, 22 February 2021

Monday Mindfulness


If you're after something to help break up the day then there's a new episode of Visible in Visuals to watch/listen to. This time around the subject is mental health, marking the first (and possibly only) panel to include myself, alongside organiser Tanya Scott, director Evgenia Golubeva, psychotherapist Sarah McCaffrey, animator Mohamed Orekan and Steff Lee of Kino Bino Studio. In this episode we discuss the realities of taking care of yourself while working in a competitive and often stressful industry, and how we can improve our understanding of mental health at work. Swing by Skwigly for some additional resources and be sure to keep in touch with Visible In Visuals if you have any feedback or are interested in getting involved with them down the line.


It's been pretty quiet on the festivals front, with the only news being it's about to get quieter as the Brussels Independent Short Film Festival: Courts Mais Trash (which this year includes Speed) will be postponing its March dates to instead take place April 21st-28th as a hybrid event. Honestly it's anyone's guess what will or won't be able to go ahead by then but I'm keeping my fingers crossed as they're a lovely bunch. Updates when I have 'em.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Keepin' your minds occupied

Good gravy these weeks are spinning by quick - yet at the same time life has slowed to an interminable crawl. What a fun little paradox. 


If, like me in all of my adorableness, you're inching incrementally closer to having just about effing had it and could do with some distraction then you might want to pencil in the next Cardiff Animation Nights. This will be their ninth online edition and, while I'm bummed it's been over a year since we last got to do it in person over at Kongs, you've got to give the team props for keeping their community spirit alive and kicking. As with some of their previous editions Laura-Beth and I will be including some exclusive Skwigly filmmaker Q&As, so be sure to tune in to their YouTube channel 8pm on February 25th and check it out.

If you haven't swung by Skwigly in a while it's worth mentioning that we're still churning out our interviews with some of the industry's best and brightest. Among the filmmakers we've featured over the past year or so whose work has qualified for this year's animated short film Oscar nominations are Frank Abney (Canvas), Nadja Andrasev (Symbiosis), Jordan Canning/Howie Shia (4 North A), Michael Govier/Will McCormack (If Anything Happens I Love You), Shoko Hara (Just A Guy), Steven Clay Hunter (Out), Andreas Hykade (Altötting), Max Lang/Daniel Snaddon (The Snail and the Whale), Catherine Lepage (The Great Malaise), Jean-François Lévesque (I, Barnabé), Arnon Manor/Timothy Ware-Hill (Cops and Robbers), Louise Mercadier/Frederic Even (Sororelle), Michaela Mihalyi/Dávid Štumpf (SH_T HAPPENS), Robin Shaw (The Tiger Who Came to Tea), Benjamin Morard/Frederic Siegel (The Lonely Orbit), Josephine Lohoar Self (The Fabric of You) and Soetkin Verstegen (Freeze Frame). Much gratitude as always to the folks for giving us their time as well as Laura-Beth and our other brilliant Skwigly team members Aaron, Nathan, Martyn and Amy for pitching in with the interviews.


This week also sees two animated NFB productions screen at Clermont Ferrand, one of the biggest festivals around - if it passed you by a few months back you can read an interview with Daniel Gray (co-director of T.O.M. and teeth, a prominent case study in my book Independent Animation) about his film HIDE, plus the festival marks the premiere of the incomparable Joanna Quinn's long-awaited new Beryl film Affairs of the Art. Check out parts one and two of Steve's chat with Joanna and writer/producer Les Mills and look out for an extended interview as part of a future Skwigly podcast.

Something else that might serve as a welcome diversion is the upcoming BBC series Chris Packham's Animal Einsteins, a six-part look animal survival skills. I'm not sure if I can elaborate on what specifically my connection to it is right now, so for the time being just take it as a general recommendation. I mean, who doesn't love animal stuff? That'll kick off on February 21st on BBC2.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Piggy, where'd it all go wrong?

Happy inauguration day folks!

Man alive, we actually made it to this point. To mark the occasion here's a completely unrelated new song I wrote about a certain Piggy that outstayed its welcome. The last Struwwelpeter EP in anticipation of the nearly-done new album My Head Is Too Small For My Body is available from today via Bandcamp (stream below) featuring the exclusive extra track Mysterious Bruises with guest vocals by Laura-Beth as well as an alternate acoustic mix of the title track.

Gracias to Hannah Stevens of Weird Eye Collective for the painterly assistance with the EP cover art.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Trash begets trash

The first Speed update of 2021 comes with today's announcement of this year's Brussels Independent Short Film Festival: Courts Mais Trash Official Selection and programme. I'm happy to say I've had my trashy ass invited back after these fine folks gave Sunscapades a couple screenings back in 2019 - festivalgoers can catch Speed as the first film of their Opening screening alongside other Courts Mais Trash alum. All being well it will take place at Cinéma Aventure in Brussels on March 10th although I don't know the actual time just yet.

Going back a couple films it's worth mentioning that, in anticipation of some to-be-determined screening events in the summer, Bulgaria's Kinematograf NGO have furnished me with Bulgarian subtitles for my 2015 short Klementhro, which was mighty nice of them. So now you can share the poignant journey and emotional message of everyone's favourite paddle-enthusiast to all the Bulgarians in your life!

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Cheer. Brimming with it.


If you're in the mood for a holiday movie marathon on this most Xmassy of Eves - or if you just want to drown out the family squabbling - you could do worse than catching up on our seasonally-themed batch of Skwigly Film Club podcasts we've been putting up this month.
Head over to the Podcasts section of the site and get caught up on our watch-throughs of Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon), Dot and Santa Claus (Yoram Gross), Arthur Christmas (Sarah Smith and Barry Cook) and our latest episode where we press play on The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick) joined again by special guest Joseph Wallace

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Storytime with Ben

As I've found myself with a much freer schedule than anticipated this week (thanks BoJo, you mop-headed dunce) here's a little story not remotely connected to Xmas, harking back to a time when people could congregate in the tens of thousands. Perhaps one day that will be something we can do again and you'll get more gems like this. Fingers crossed innit.

Happy holidays, m'lovelies. Stay safe.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Don't it all spin by quick

I realised, thanks to the cruel joys of social media and their respective 'On This Day' thingies, that today marks the ten-year anniversary of my fourth Struwwelpeter LP The Book Of Women. After the soaring (scraped quadruple digits, phwoar) sales of the not-as-good previous LP Agnosticaust in a post-MySpace world this one quietly came out digitally (with a physical release the following week) to a more tepid response. My G5 had crashed two weeks beforehand so I'd lost a bunch of the masters as well as virtually all the assets for a couple of animated music videos that would have gone with it and ended up cobbling the released album together from a mix of partially-recovered files, earlier demo versions and a couple tracks hurriedly remixed from scratch. Even still it was a fun one to piece together and had some great guest musicians. 
History has repeated itself with my iMac shitting its stupid iMaccy britches earlier this year so my plan to have released a new LP by now hasn't happened, but the EPs have been going down OK (once the stats are aggregated, at least). At any rate if you've yet to give The Book of Women a whirl it's available Bandcamp, Spotify (below), iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, Tidal and Deezer
Fun fact: while this album didn't set the world alight, the main single Set You Free did get played on BBC Introducing back in the day - although the hosts kind of took a dump on it, which seemed slightly at odds with picking it in the first place. Comme ci, comme ça.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Culturelle!

I mentioned previously that there was potentially another online outing for Speed on the cards as an offshoot of the delayed Sommets du Cinéma d'Animation festival. Happily this appears to have come through and lucky Canucks can catch it via Télé-Québec's La Fabrique culturelle for the next couple weeks. Screening as part the International Competition of Very Short Films Bloc 1, Speed can be seen alongside Sadko Hadzhisanivic's Playground, Rachel Samson's Parc à chats, Josep Calle's Bic and Irina Rubina's Black Snot & Golden Squares. As far as I can tell it's free to watch so if you're over there in Canadaland why doncha give it a peek, eh?

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Consume!


You know the holiday season is nearly upon us when I won't shut up about my book being on sale. If anyone out there reading this hasn't picked it up yet and is mighty sore that they missed out on some of the recent deals earlier in the month then stop your whining and instead rejoice that both the paperback and eBook editions of Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films will be available at a glorious 30% off throughout this entire Black Friday weekend! That's if you pick it up directly from the publisher which, considering they throw in free shipping, seems like a damn good option to me.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Setbacks and Advances

Following up on the last post, over in Montreal it looks like cinemas will be closed until January 11th at the earliest, so next week's Sommets du Cinéma d'Animation will be going all-digital and postponing any physical screenings until the spring, however the online events won't extend to the short films screenings so I guess they're in limbo for now. Ah well, spreads things out a bit at least. Fingers crossed it won't be too long into the new year when things ease up, in the interim however there has been some talk about my specific section getting some kind of parallel online exhibition so if that's still going ahead I'll post an update.

There's a similar situation playing out in Hungary, where the Anilogue International Animation Festival is kicking off today in online form. Having included Klementhro in their 14th edition they've had the good manners to throw in Speed for their 18th, although the programme specifics have been shrouded in mystery until today. Needless to say the Extremely Short Animated Films section that my film is part of won't actually be taking place until their rescheduled physical edition in May, so watch this space for info on when that comes together.

An outing for Speed that will actually be going ahead as planned (unless I've just jinxed it) is its inclusion in the comedy shorts film festival Short Com from November 30th! The event will be held virtually until December 6th via XerbTV with Speed part of the official selection. This one's geolocked to the UK but there's a tentative plan for some international screenings down the line. Worth mentioning that profits from these events will be donated to The Refugee Council, if you fancy checking them out tickets are available here.

One last update for now is that the Official Selection for the 2020 Palm Springs International Animation Festival & Expo is now online with Speed part of the Animated Comedy Shorts section. This one will be running from December 22nd through to January 2nd and will take the form of an online edition as well as a series of drive-in screenings, which is a nifty solution. Don't know much else about it just yet but keep your eyes on their Facebook for updates as they come.