Thursday, 13 April 2017

More for the pile
Having quasi-premiered at the Manchester Animation Festival back in 2015, Klementhro will be paddling his way up North again for To The Screen: Animation Unlimited, a one-day festival event put together through Creative Industries Trafford. Even better news is it will be screening alongside Laura-Beth Cowley's new film (and relative newcomer to the festival circuit) Boris-Noris! So if you're able to make it to the Greater Manchester area this coming Wednesday (April 19th) the programme will kick off around 7pm at the Waterside Arts Centre. It's sure to be a fun'un!
As some may recall, last year Klementhro followed in the footsteps of its predecessors Ground Running and The Naughty List by getting itself screened at the Skepto International Film Festival. I've just been informed by the lovely folks over there that it will screen again on April 29th for a special pre-festival 'Best of 2016' event in Sassari, North Sardinia. Exact venue/time info a-comin' soon.
As a little bonus bit of good news, these recent additions to the upcoming screenings means that, come the film's appearance at the Cardiff Independent Film Festival in May, it will have cleared 100 public screenings, which was my self-set target to hit before putting the film online. So assuming nothing changes in the interim, the date it goes up will be Monday May 8th. Pencil it in, people - this time Klementhro's coming to you!
They're waiting...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

News Clump

Some updates to brighten an actually-quite-sunny-already weekend.
Sunscapades is making slow but encouragingly steady progress. I've been blessed with having some absolutely fantastic background and close-ups painters who've really been helping to nail that 90s series vibe I'm going for with it. If you want to keep up with how it's coming together and get some sneaky peeks as they go up you can now follow me on Instagram. Here's a wee smattering of the goods you can come to expect:
A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on

A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on

A post shared by Ben Mitchell (@benlmitchell) on
It's also worth reminding y'all that there's a Skwigly Instagram that's been set up for a while now so if you're in a followin' mood then why not get in on that too.
Speakin' o' Skwigly, the end of March officially marked five years of the Skwigly Animation Podcast. It's been quite a half-decade, with co-host Steve and myself amassing literally days' worth of exclusive interviews and insights from the best and brightest of the animation industry. So naturally to mark the occasion I've put together a selection of bits where it's just the two of us pissing about in between interviews. Traipse down memory lane in this compilation of conversational “highlights” including:
  • Animation indoctrination
  • The ballad of Crazy Frog
  • Miyazaki’s confusing retirement
  • Making it to Annecy
  • Peppa Pig and the ****ing Gazelles
  • Pastor vs. Frozen
  • Too many coyotes
  • The misadventures of Quoanna Jinn
  • Pixar’s Lava: A fair and reasoned critique
  • Alienating Matt Groening forever
  • The nightmare commission
  • Noisy dicks at festivals
  • Annecy traditions (featuring Katie and Julia)
  • Animals are crap in real life
  • Awful films we sit through
  • The dark side of animation
  • The Skwigly anxiety dream
  • Miyazaki’s wrath
The second season of mine and Laura-Beth Cowley's more recent Skwigly podcast series Intimate Animation is continuing on also, with Kim Noce of Mew Lab joining us for episode 2. Since graduating from the NFTS with her 2005 animated documentary short After, Kim has gone on to direct eight independent shorts, seven commissioned films for the BBC, C4 and the BFI among others, as well as ten animation installations, including The Evening Her Mind Jumped Out of Her Head for Watford Borough Council. Recently Kim was among several directors commissioned to direct Love in Idleness for the Shakespeare400 Still Shakespeare series. The films took inspiration from original research by Sally Barnden and were produced in partnership with London Shakespeare Centre, Film Club at Th1ng and Sherbet.
Also discussed in this episode is Kirsten Lepore's curious new film Hi Stranger, made for the second Late Night Work Club anthology Strangers. Her contribution went viral in a big way a few weeks back and you can learn more about how it came together in my interview with her:
Stranger Things: A Conversation with Kirsten Lepore
You can hear a longer version of the interview as well as more from the other Strangers contributors in a podcast special that will be going up soon (I'd originally planned to time it with a public screening event I'm involved in but as that's been pushed back until later in the year I'm aiming to get it up sooner) so watch this space.

In the meantime there's a new episode of my video interview series Lightbox in which I meet Kyle Carrozza, a nice fella whose frenetic contribution to the Cartoon Network series line-up Mighty Magiswords just made it to the UK this weekend. Have a watch and learn more about how it came together, it's quite interesting how its path to becoming a full series was a somewhat atypical one.
I know at this point you're all literally screaming "But what's happening with Klementhro?!" until your voice boxes are raw and bloody, so I'll put you out of your misery. I'm happy to report the film's getting a surprise screening in competition at Cortoons Festival Gandia. The festival takes place in Valencia, Spain and while I'm not 100% clear on the exact time and venue info just yet I can tell you it's held from April 27th to 30th and that my film will be part of the 1-4 minutes screening category. More when there's more.
Don't forget that shortly afterward it will screen on May 6th at 5:15pm as part of Cardiff Animation Nights' competition strand at the Cardiff Independent Film Festival at Chapter. Immediately afterwards at 7pm Steve and I will be hosting one of our inimitable Skwigly Animation Quizzes that are always good fun, so be sure to check that out also.
That morning Laura-Beth's new film Boris-Noris (on which I helped out hither and thither) will also be playing at CIFF as part of the Animated Family Shorts screenings put together by Cloth Cat. Keep your eyes on the online program in the coming weeks for more specifics and ticket info. The film has had a great start so far, already having screened in the States and the UK with other upcoming screenings including 7 Petits Cailloux (Tinqueux, France) and Zlín Film Festival (Kudlov, Czech Republic).
Eef, that was a big one. Okay folks, go back to enjoying your Sunday.

Monday, 27 March 2017


Latest festival updates for Klementhro, the little paddlin' ginger that could (even though nobody asked him to). First off in April you can catch the film in Paris at this year's edition of Le Court Nous Tient. Our man Klementhro will be poking his head out during the Competition 2 screening at 4pm April 11th. In keeping with the quasi-nautical theme of the film the event takes place on La Baleine Blanche. Très bon!
Also an update on the film's participation in the Cardiff Animation Nights competition strand of CIFF in May. In anticipation of the announcement of the full schedule soon, it's looking like Klementhro will play in the Animation 2 screening that will take place on Saturday May 6th around 5:15pm (TBC) at Chapter Arts Centre. Will keep you posted with more events when the time comes, but all told it's shaping up to be another fun weekend.
With Klementhro soon to be old news, here's the YouTube version of the Sunscapades clip I put up over the weekend. This is an ever-so-slightly longer excerpt, see if you can spot a line that I've ultimately jettisoned from the final film:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sunshine Days

An evening dedicated to making a child scream in terror is surely an evening well spent
With an optimistic, self-set completion deadline for the end of May, my latest film Sunscapades is starting to come together. Conisdering the last couple of my films have been pretty quiet affairs, I wanted to pay tribute to the faster-paced, economically-produced cartoons of my youth, something more in the vein of the Wobble Box series I worked on, or my old Jim Norton animation.
What a ham
This film came from some random scribblings I did around the same time as Klementhro and is one of three shorts I've outlined that largely revolve around the antics of mischievous triplets Milly, Lily and Billy. For now I don't think the story needs to be elaborated on, but here's a first little glimpse:

What rotten thing could they have done?
I'd like to express much gratitude to three wonderful ladies of animation - who make up Weird Eye Collective - Laura-Beth and Fiona (who contributed some superb voice work) as well as Hannah who's working on the backgrounds. Seeing this first sequence more-or-less done I have a particularly good feeling about how the film is turning out and I'm really looking forward to putting it out in the world when it's done. As always keep checking back here for updates and whatnot.

Friday, 17 March 2017

That Gaston really was a dreamboat
In episode 69 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we welcome back Graham Annable, Oscar-nominated co-director of LAIKA's 2014 feature The Boxtrolls. As well as his involvement with LAIKA Studios, Graham is also the creator of the comic/animation series Grickle, sustained through Patreon. His prior work includes stints at Telltale Games, LucasArts, Nickelodeon and Disney.
Also discussed in this episode: Oscar wins, Beauty and the Beast quasi-controversy, the pleasantly surprising look of the Duck Tales reboot, shows best left forgotten, the cancellation of Tim Minchin’s Larrikins and LAIKA CEO Travis Knight’s surprising new career direction.
Listen to it, gosh darn you:
You may remember a couple years back we interviewed Luc Chamberland about a rather spiffing NFB documentary he made about Canadian cartoon artist Seth. You don't? FFS. Fine, here it is again then:
Anyhoo, it's now out on DVD with some extra bells and whistles. It's a great package, have a read of my full review here and keep your eyes open for it.
If that's put you in the consuming mood here's a spiffy deal to brighten up your impending weekend - from now until the end of March you can nab a copy of my book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films with a big chunky 20% knocked off the list price!
Just order direct from CRC Press and enter coupon code CWR04 at checkout. Free shipping to boot!
'Cause I loves ya so much, thass'why.

Monday, 13 March 2017

My Crowd
Another March screening for Klementhro has snuck its way into the schedules. The kind folks at Bilbao's Animakom Fest have chosen to include it in their screening Krazykom, a "screening of crazy short films" that will take place after the main award ceremony. If any Animakom-goers fancy checking it out it will be at 11pm March 18th at the BBF Dock. Gracias!
Now to steer the discussion towards a couple of other films I tainted with my involvement. Firstly the never-not-wonderful Jo Hepworth has released her short film The Urban Fox (that may very well feature a couple of tracks from The Birdcage playing in the background) online:
This one wasn't pushed much at festivals, though some of you may have seen it at KLIK! last year or my MAF screening back in 2015. Either way, you can see it now in all its glory. I chatted with Jo a bit about making the film as part of my series of KLIK! podcast minisodes last year, have a listen below: Another film worth keeping your eyes open for is Laura-Beth Cowley's thesis film Boris-Noris that I did some post-production work on. It was just finished this past January but there are a few festival appearances already lined up, the first of which will be at Allentown, Pennsylvania's Alternative Gallery for the Open World Animation Festival. Here's a trailer to whet your whettables:
The festival kicks off on March 23rd and runs until the 26th. I'll post up upcoming, closer-to-home screenings as they come along but in the meantime (or for those of you who may be on that side of the pond already) you can learn more at the fest's event page.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Springtime for Klementhro
Poking my adorable furry head out from the avalanche of work and wedding plans with a couple updates regarding Klementhro's latter days on the festival circuit. Coming up first are some more details on the film's screening as part of Friday Night Shorts at Short Waves Festival in Pozan, Poland. The venue will be the Kino Rialto and the programme will kick off 10pm March 24th. Check it out, my Polish pretties!
I'm also happy to confirm that the film will still be out and about come May of this year, as part of the official selection of this year's Cardiff Independent Film Festival. It's in the company of some grand films by animation pals including Anete Melece, Chris Shepherd and Sara Barbas among others. This is the second year that the festival has teamed up with the fabulous folks at Cardiff Animation Nights for their animation strand - last year's was tremendous so I'm really looking forward to heading back.
Elsewhere I'm hearing murmurings that the sequel to The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle (the animated point-and-click game from Rumpus to which I contributed some character voices) is coming together spiffingly. Adding to those murmurings are my own murmurings, which you can check out below. Fulchmuckle rides again!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Peaks and Valley

Couple Skwigly updates, we have a new contributor Simmon Keith Barney whose first piece puts forward some interesting ideas about how to approach alternate frame rates for your animation projects. Good food for thought and I kinda wish I'd read it before I embarked on my current film Sunscapades which I made the increasingly regrettable decision to animate all on 1s. Give it a read here and see what you think.
In episode 68 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we welcome Robert Valley, director of the original Vimeo animated documentary short Pear Cider and Cigarettes.
Developed from his own self-published graphic novels and produced by Cara Speller of Passion Pictures, the film tells the true story of Valley’s attempts to keep his childhood friend from destroying himself, a task that grows increasingly difficult as time wears on. Earlier this month Pear Cider and Cigarettes picked up an Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production and is among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short.
Also discussed in this episode: BAFTA wins, Oscar nominees, recent National Film and Television School output and the questionable necessity of a Beauty and the Beast remake.
Last week on the site I spoke with Montreal-based director Eva Cvijanović, whose Branko Ćopić adaptation Hedgehog's Home (produced with the NFB and Bonobostudio) premiered at Berlinale recently and is a real treat for stop-mo enthusiasts. Click the link below to learn more:
Interview with Eva Cvijanović
It's only briefly touched upon in the interview but something that struck me about this film is that it makes great use of Kenneth Welsh's propensity toward broad character performances, something that was horribly misused when he was in Twin Peaks. Basically he came in pretty late as a sort of replacement bad guy who was all set up to be kind of Hannibal-esque and ended up more like a panto villain. Then Lynch directed him in the last episode and he was genuinely brilliant. Goes to show how many people involved in that series just didn't know what they were doing (says the guy whose directorial experience comes to less than an hour's worth of animated shorts). Anyway, he's very good in this is the point.
I'm gearing up for the inevitable Twin Peaks rewatch before the new series starts in May. I love Lynch and am probably in the minority when I say that Fire Walk With Me is my favourite film of his, but only about a third of the actual TV show's episode really matched up to either as far as my personal enthusiasm went. Plus because I loved the film so much I remain annoyed that David Bowie and Keifer Sutherland's characters never appear in the show, although I gather Harry Dean Stanton's will in the new ones so that's a brownie point already. Basically I'm hoping the new show will be Fire Walk With Me: The Series, something that would leave a lot more hardcore series fans than not pretty disappointed, I imagine.
No idea why I'm typing all this. Ah, I'm procrastinating again. That'll be it.
OKAY. Back to work.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Idle Distraction

For no particular reason here's one of a handful of covers I put together during the period I was writing and recording The Birdcage a couple years back:
Usually for each album I end up doing a bunch of covers either to teach myself some previously unexplored process in Reason or just for the gits and shiggles of it all. Then I tend to just kind of forget about them.
While I've covered Faith No More in my live shows a bunch I don't usually have the audacity to make any studio recordings of their work but this is one that sort of weirdly fit into the universe of The Birdcage, arrangements-wise. Plus with each passing year my life resembles that of its lyrical protagonist more and more.
As the wry sampling near the end suggests one the many reasons I'm fond of this particular tune is that it always put li'l me in mind of the underwater levels in Super Mario Bros. I think if I ever go on The Voice this will be my audition song.
Apparently when Faith No More were making Angel Dust the working title for this song was 'Macaroni and Cheese'.
You can tell I'm procrastinating, can't you?
Well...back to work I guess.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Still Alive

Jaysus, I blinked and the whole goddamn month got away from me.
Been one of those periods where there's barely been enough time to do all the things that need to be done, let alone write about them. Hopefully if you've been following either my personal or Skwigly Twitter feed you're more or less up to speed. If not here's a quickie roundup.
On the podcasts front there's been a bunch of new stuff up for your listening pleasure. After what proved to be a successful venture in the Animation Composed special it's been business as sort-of-usual for the main Skwigly podcast, with a second annual outtakes special kicking off proceedings as well as welcoming current Oscar nominee Patrick Osborne (he who done 2015 winner Feast with Disney and, more recently, Pearl with Google ATAP) to episode 66:
Since its release last year the film has gone on to receive multiple Annie Award nominations and be shortlisted for the 2017 Best Animated Short Oscar nominations, a first for a 360 VR film.
Also discussed in this episode are nominations for – and conspicuous absences from – the animation categories at the 2017 BAFTAs, anticipation of new Rick and Morty and how certain feature films set out to insult their audience’s intelligence.
In continuation of my enthusiasm for the Mike Patton-voiced Dave Cooper-conceived headf*ck that is The Absence of Eddy Table I managed to speak with director Rune Spaans (AKA Superrune) for episode 67. Give 'er a listen:
Hailing from Brønnøysund in Norway, as a self-taught visual artist Rune began working in video games in the 90s before moving on to advanced visual effects and animation work for films including André Øvredal's Troll HunterEddy Table is currently in competition at Clermont-Ferrand with upcoming screenings planned for Festival Ciné Court Animé in March.
Laura-Beth and I have this week brought back Intimate Animation for a second season (or series, whatever melts your effin' butter), a little earlier than planned. As it turns out, the wonderful Signe Baumane has a new feature on the go, so what better time to catch up?
Anyone who's a regular listener - or who may have read my book - knows just how inspiring I find Signe and, based on the strength of her previous feature Rocks In My Pockets this new film is sure to be more than worthy of your attention. After you've checked out the episode you can learn more about the project and how you can contribute at
Elsewhere the world continues to turn despite simultaneously crumbling. To distract myself from the onslaught of increasingly baffling news (people say it's like Nineteen Eighty-Four but to be honest I'm more put in mind of The Last King of Scotland) I've been deeply entrenched in the final weeks of the preschool series I've been working on since last June. As production on the first series (or season, Jesus guys chill out) is coming to an end, knock wood I'll be able to put up something from it soon. Another nugget of news worth mentioning is that Toon Boom have been assisting with resources for my next short film Sunscapades which is well underway. I've been playing about with the latest version of Harmony and put up a review on it if any of you are in the market for an upgrade and want to learn more.
On the subject of my weird little films, as far as our old friend Klementhro goes there had been a sort-of plan to release it online around now, although it turns out its festival run has a bit of life left in it yet. I can confirm it will be doing the rounds through til May which is rather splendid, will post up all info as it comes. In the meantime the next outing will be at Short Waves in Poznań, which runs from March 21st-26th. As the screening is called Friday Night Shorts I'm using my crack detective skills to conclude it will take place on the evening of the 24th. Exact specifics when I get 'em.
My revised plan is to put the film online in full at the point when it has gotten 100 public screenings. No particular reason, just something to work toward. We're well into the 90s now so hopefully it won't be too long.
That's me done for now. Hopefully I'll be back here before another month goes by.