Monday, 19 March 2018

Old Chestnuts

Happy Monday all!
A few oldies that I worked on have recently resurfaced. Firstly the latest of my old discography to finally make its way to Spotify, iTunes et al is the 2010 EP Digital Stimulation.
This one originally came out in the run up to the LP The Book of Women that would be released at the end of the same year and features six exclusive alternate mixes/edits of songs from that album as well as its 2006 predecessor Agnosticaust (which will hopefully get itself a full reissue soon). Check 'er out:
On the animation side of things I saw that a collection of highlights from Jonti Picking (aka Weebl) and Sarah Darling's webseries Wobble Box went up over the weekend, with a couple of the segments I animated thrown in. So that's something to keep your company on your lunch break:
More good news is that Rumpus Animation's first step into the world of video game adventuring The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle - for which I provided the voices of That Guy Who Sounds Like Ben Mitchell and That Other Guy Who Sounds Like Ben Mitchell But A Bit Nasally among others - will be getting itself a Japanese release on the Nintendo Switch on March 29th, so fingers crossed for a wider release in the not-too-distant. You can learn more about this version here and there's a slightly more Nintendo-ey version of the trailer you can watch below:

Monday, 12 March 2018

Our podcast continues this week with a pair of fantastic special guests - speaking with Laura-Beth are director Paloma Baeza and producer Ser En Low who just won the National Film and Television School its fifth consecutive BAFTA win (not to mention picking up a McLaren and Annie Award among others) for Best Short Animation with their film Poles Apart. Give 'er a download or a listen below:
It's a brilliant, Wes Anderson-esque stop-motion film about the friendly/tense relationship between a polar bear and a grizzly that really stood out among last year's NFTS crop so it's great to see it continue to do so well.
These podcasts are always more fun to do when our blood is a little stirred up, so thanks to another disappointing Oscars year for helping us out on that front.
On another note, just a reminder that later on this week the British Animation Awards, will return to London tahn on the 15th. I was once again part of the jury although I won't be able to be in the city for the awards themselves, but it should be a fun one. Well, as fun as anything can be in my absence. Soldier on, my brave little soldiers.
If you haven't yet got tickets it's probably a little close to the wire at this point, but you might get a place on the waiting list if you shoot them an email via their official site.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women, they're absolutely everywhere
I just received some good news regarding Lendas Animadas, the Brazilian pre-school series I worked on a little while ago - one of the episodes I animated just picked up the Audience Award for Best Children's Short at the FESTin Portuguese Film Festival in Lisbon. Turns out the kids are alright.
On top of this the series is also a finalist for the 28th Prix Jeunesse International festival and competition which will take place in Munich from May 25th-30th.
Congrats and kudos to the team, most of all to Art Director Adriana Meirelles who was my immediate supervisor on the series and did an amazing job in keeping me on track, especially considering I don't speak any Portuguese.
Speaking of amazing women in animation, if you head on over to Skwigly's Twitter feed I've been corralling some coverage from the past year in honour of International Women's Day. There are some fantastic articles and insights - not to mention films - worth checking out there if you missed them the first time around.
While we're on the subject here's a rundown of the industry's inspiring female talents I've had the pleasure of personally interviewing since my days at the magazine began:

To be perfectly honest it should be a longer list, though I have some personal goals toward the gender parity of our coverage in the years to come that should hopefully amend that.
As for the present, the latest addition to our interviews section is the splendid Julie Roy who I had the pleasure of interviewing at last year's Annecy festival. This week saw her win her second Canadian Screen Award as a National Film Board of Canada producer (her main role is Executive Producer of the NFB's French Animation Studio). The winning film, directed by Matthew Rankin (an interview with whom went up a few months' back), is The Tesla World Light, which documents a troubled period of the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla’s life through a combination of exquisitely performed pixilation and experimental filmmaking techniques. Julie's producer filmography also includes some absolute crackers such as Paula (Dir. Dominic Étienne Simard), Kali, the Little Vampire (Dir. Regina Pessoa), In Deep Waters (Dir. Sarah van den Boom), Pilots on the Way Home (Dir. Priit and Olga Pärn), Inspector Street (Dir. Emmanuelle Loslier) and The Head Vanishes (Dir. Franck Dion) among others, so it was a real privilege to get to learn about her career path and process, as well as some insight into how the NFB approach the marketing and distribution of their films once they're done.
One last thing that, again, involves some super brilliant animation ladies, chiefly Lauren Orme, Dani Abram et al who have been working like mad on the first edition of the revived Cardiff Animation Festival. Having curated and hosted the animation strand of the Cardiff Independent Film Festival for a few years, as well as the city's regular meet-up Cardiff Animation Nights, the team have outdone themselves with an amazingly high-quality inaugural official selection for this year's event. I'll be involved in the festival in various capacities that I'll elaborate on when they've all been cemented but until then be sure to to get your hands on festival passes so you won't miss a thing.
That's it for today, I'll leave you with this new piece by Anna Ginsburg that I had nothing to do with but absolutely love:

Friday, 2 March 2018

Russian About
No Sunscapades news to report, but our paddle-dependent lad Klementhro is still making desperate, needy bids for attention before he gets shunted aside. Over the next few weeks the film will be part of a touring programme spun off from last year's edition of Russia's Big Cartoon Festival for which it was officially selected. Traveling outside of Moscow this time, Klementhro - or Климентро, or Climentro, as I guess the word I made up translates to - will screen alongside a couple of personal favourites such as Love (Réka Bucsi) and Negative Space (Tiny Inventions) this Saturday, March 3rd, 8:40pm at the Spartak cinema in Voronezh.
Later in the month the programme will take place in Nizhny Novgorod at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts and Krasnoyarsk at the House of Cinema around the same time (March 23rd-April 1st). Head on over to the festival's official site and Facebook page for more specific event info. Other screenings that will be featured in the tour also include tremendous recent work by Niki Lindroth Von Bahr (The Burden), Britt Raes (Catherine), Nicolas Ménard (Wednesday With Goddard), Sean Buckelew (Lovestreams), Chintis Lundgren (Life with Herman H. Rott), Diane Obomsawin (I Like Girls), Anna Ginsburg (Material World),  as well as some modern classics from Kirsten Lepore (Bottle) and Tim Reckart (Head Over Heels). So if you're in the area be sure to check it out, 'cause if you miss out on a line-up like that then, frankly, you don't deserve nice things.
Not to be aggressive about it.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Snowed In

Evenin' all!
So from what I gather the entire country has ground to a halt due to the onslaught of what may turn out to be literally centimeters of snow. Crikey, let's just do our best to keep it together, gang.
As a Canadian who has known the joy of icicles on my eyeballs I find it quite adorbs (but, y'know, stay safe on the roads and all). Hopefully you're all bundled up somewhere warm with someone you enjoy being warmly bundled up with. While you're a-bundlin' you can take a look at the new 1080p HD version of my 2010 film The Naughty List.
This was on my to-do list for a little while (the most highly-defined it's been in the past is 720p) so what with today being a snow-day I figured I may as well knock it on the head. With nearly eight years' distance between then and now all I can see is the high-definition of some extremely questionable line-work. That being said, there are some moments in it I'm still proud of.
Also worth mentioning that today is World Book Day, so why not bow to the pressure of the arbitrary assignment of a time of year to the concept of literature by picking up one of those delightful tomes you can see to the right of the page. You have to switch to web mode if you're reading this on your phone to know what I'm talking about.
I know, it's a lot of work. Fine, forget I brought it up.
You people.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Updates From Limbo

The evenings have been busy in the days since Sunscapades officially wrapped while I attempt to hammer out a plan of action as far as getting it out in the world. It's a slow-process and it'll be weeks or even months before I have anything to report on that front but watch this space for whatever I can come up with in the interim. Probably some teaser clips at the very least.
Meanwhile I'm happy to say that Klementhro will get a rare screening in his town of origin, that being here in rainy ol' Bristol. The film will be playing as part of the first CineMe screening in a few years, taking place at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer at 8pm this coming Tuesday (27th). It's great to be involved as, under its original management, I had a very clement relationship with CineMe who included my work at a bunch of local events, featured a segment on myself/The Naughty List on their associated TV series Short Cuts and collaborated with Laura-Beth and I on our Love, Lust and Libido screening that served as something of a precursor to our current Intimate Animation podcast. Fittingly Laura-Beth's own film Boris-Noris will also be screened on Tuesday, as well as Blanked, a film from her Weird Eye companions Fiona and Hannah (both of whom helped invaluably with Sunscapades, as it happens).
Not much else to report, save for episode 77 of the ol' Skwigly Podcast that went up a couple days ago. If you didn't hear it yet then give yourselves a little treat - it's a quick one but it features the rather smashing (and Oscar-nominated, to boot) Glen Keane making a welcome return:

Monday, 5 February 2018

Ben and Women
Continuing the migration of my musical back catalogue to some of these modern distribution channels - what with me being so hip and down with the youth and all - February's re-release is my 2010 album The Book of Women.
This one was originally put out when my attentions were mostly focused on The Naughty List and, in a limbo between the eras of MySpace and Bandcamp, didn't really get much momentum compared to the albums that came before and after. It was a lot of fun to do, however, and has a lot of great musician pals of mine guesting on it, not to mention fond memories associated with it. So if you're in the mood check 'er out for free on Spotify (you can stream below) or grab it for keepsies on iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon, Bandcamp or even on compact disc if you like your unfashionably retro music formats. The CD has the added bonus of featuring a photo of me on the back looking like a bell-end if that's an incentive at all.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

That Gumball you like is going to come back in style

Here's an interview I've been sitting on for ages that I hope you all get a kick out of. As part of 2017's Annecy coverage I got to meet three folks who've been on my interview wish-list for a good long while now: Creative duo Becky & Joe (who created the brilliant, Rainbow-meets-Requiem For A Dream horror series Don't Hug Me I'm Scared to tremendous viral success) recently brought their penchant for puppetry to The Amazing World of Gumball's season 5 episode The Puppets, and MANOMAN director Simon Cartwright of Cartwright Gantz who directed the accompanying webseries Waiting For Gumball (Simon previously appeared on episode 32 of the podcast).
Also at this junket were James Stevenson Bretton and Tom Stuart of Blink Industries as well as Ben Bocquelet (marking his second Lightbox appearance) and Mic Graves, Gumball's series creator and director respectively.
I'm still a little in the dark as to whether or not The Puppets and Waiting For Gumball were released/broadcast here in the UK, but they definitely came out in the States a few months' back. Either way they're great fun and it was a treat to chat with everyone involved. If you dig it you might want to check out the other interviews from this particular junket - with Simon Landrein (guest artist) and Ben Locket (composer).

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The 'Cast Continues
For episode 76 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast I was thrilled to speak with Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey, director of the animated feature film adaptation of Deborah Ellis’s The Breadwinner that just got itself an Oscar nomination.
Fulfilling a variety of key roles at the studio, Nora’s has served as Creative Director on projects such as preschool series Puffin Rock, as well as co-directing the 2009 feature The Secret of Kells alongside co-founder Tomm Moore, directing the short films From Darkness (2002) and Cúilín Dualach (2004) and serving as Head of Story on Song Of The Sea (2014).
Having received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, The Breadwinner has gone on to receive a Golden Globe nomination and multiple nominations for the Annie Awards and the Canadian Screen Awards, winning Best Animation at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards and Leeds International Film Festival.
Also discussed in this episode: A look at the other animated Academy Award contenders, BAFTA nominations and early impressions of Aardman's Early Man,  Stream this episode below or direct download:

Monday, 15 January 2018

Kickey Muck
As part of their coverage of this year's edition of British Shorts in Berlin (which had the good manners to screen Klementhro on Friday), the fine folks at indie film mag The New Current interviewed me about it. Have a read here for some wafflings about making indie animated films, managing Skwigly and putting together my book.
Elsewhere the new Bertram Fiddle game A Bleaker Predicklement (from pals Rumpus Animation and featuring yours truly attempting a variety of dubious regional accent) has this week expanded its release to include Android, so get downloadin' for Pete's sake!
You'll marvel at Blacksmith and Little Wacksmith's geographically inexplicable voice characterisations
If you want to get caught up then throughout this week you'll be able to get yourself a copy of the first game A Dreadly Business - one of the major case studies of aforementioned book, don'cha know - for free! If that doesn't kick Blue Monday up its blue arse I don't know what will.