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:

Thursday, 31 October 2019

'We Still Care A Lot' out now

Some not-so-Halloweeny but quite splendid news today in that the long-gestating tribute album to the late Chuck Mosley of Faith No More, Cement and VUA is out now.
Perhaps surprisingly my contribution (with some help by the wonderful Laura-Beth Cowley) isn't a Faith No More cover but one of my favourites from VUA, Nameless. I was overjoyed to get to meet him during his (sadly final) UK tour when he played just up the road at Bristol Bierkeller and see him do his version of the song live:

We Still Care A Lot features various artists paying tribute as well as a posthumous appearance by Chuck himself and I'm really proud to be a part of it. Head over to Murder Boy Music and grab yourself a copy.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Paperback writer
Happy International Animation Day!
Also coincidentally the day I squelched myself out of amniotic slumber 36 years ago.
What better way to mark both equally hallowed circumstances than by picking up a copy of my book Independent Animation? From today through to November 10th you can get it in paperback direct from the publisher at 20-25% off (30-35% off of you get it in eBook format) - with free shipping and all!
Packed full of production insight from the animation world's best, brightest and most inspirational figureheads, every moment you don't own it is surely a moment mis-spent!
On the oddly-specific subject of possibly buying books I've made for less than you would usually, I've also been informed that Lulu are offering 15% off all print products if you use the code ONEFIVE at checkout until Thursday. So that includes my li'l indie comic House Guest: The Graphic Novel and the original, non-serialised version of Throat.
That reminds me - recently I'd noticed sales of the three-volume Throat series (same comic, just divided into three parts with some extras sprinkled in) had come to a complete halt; not an enormous dropoff to be brutally honest, but a dropoff all the same. After some investigating I discovered they've been completely out-of-print since the Spring (FFS). Would've been good to know. So after some liaising and fiddling I'm happy to report that volumes 1, 2 and 3 are now once again available in all good bookstores, by which I mean probably just Amazon. 
Check out for more info if you reckon they'd be the preferable option what with those extra bits and all. Most importantly you should buy them for how satisfyingly the spines line up:

Friday, 25 October 2019

As the nights draw in...
We've got ourselves one more October screening coming up for my cartooney li'l parable Sunscapades. The kids will be returning to Montreal for a special Halloween screening put together by the fabulous folks at Productions Antichambre and Festival Courts d'un Soir who included the film in their 2019 official selection back in April. Head to Anticafé Vieux-Port 6:30pm October 28th (coincidentally my day o' birth) for AntiMOVIE spécial horreur which looks to be a fun night indeed.
There are also a couple of festivals coming up in November you can catch the film at - on this side of the pond Sunscapades will be part of the line-up of the Norfolk Film Festival, which seems like a relatively modest affair but sees me in pretty good company judging by the trailer:
The festival will take place November 17th at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates as they come.
The following day Magma - Mostra di Cinema Breve will kick off its 18th edition that runs from November 18th through to the 23rd. No specifics as of yet but let's just say there's a good chance a certain troublemaking trio may make an appearance.
This is a different event to the Magma Short Film Festival that screened The Naughty List back in 2011 but I'm sure it's just as magmatic. Why, probably more so!
To shift away from my own self-love for a minute, I want to bring up something quite dear to my heart that I hope you folks can spare a sec for.
I've made no secret of my fondness and admiration for the work of the extremely talented and prolific Rosto, whose music and art I've written about at some length across various outlets in recent years. A friend of Skwigly and significant contributor to the my book Independent Animation, the man's enthusiasm and passion for his work was clearly demonstrated by the sheer volume of his output.
With musical origins dating back to the early nineties, Rosto’s interactive graphic novel project Mind My Gap ran from 1999-2014 and spawned a number of multi-award-winning animated shorts along the way, including (the rise and fall of the legendary) Anglobilly Feverson, The Monster of Nix, No Place Like Home, Lonely Bones (the concluding chapter of Mind My Gap) followed by the continuing adventures of the metaphysical band Thee Wreckers with Splintertime and his final film Reruns. 
Not too long before his all-too-premature passing I was enormously honoured to be approached by Rosto to consult on and proof-read what would be a significant career milestone, the physical graphic novel adaptation of Mind My Gap.
When we last spoke he told me he'd finished a mock-up but I didn't know what the ultimate fate of the book would be until recently learning that Autour de Minuit are aiming for a physical release book/music combo as he had originally envisioned.
Through an incentive-driven crowdfunding campaign that officially launched a few days ago, fans of Rosto’s work can pre-order the set as well as a variety of other milestones of the artist’s legacy, such as the full Thee Wreckers Tetralogy on DVD/BluRay, earlier works including the original Mind My Gap shorts trilogy and The Monster of Nix, a limited edition 180g vinyl LP (I leapt on this) and an assortment of prints, collectibles and rarities.
If you've not yet seen the man's work at the very least let this serve as an introduction to it - it's an incredibly gratifying and inspiring rabbit hole to go down. And if you have some cash on hand for some fun animation goodies, well, there's a whole heap of them to be found here.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Once you pop...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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!
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.