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


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


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.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Proper Northern

The latest official selection announcement for Speed is the top-notch Sommets du Cinéma d'Animation over in Montreal, which takes place December 1st through to the 6th. Obviously it burns my ass to not be able to attend in person, especially given it's where a lot of my favourite people in the world live, but I was privileged to be a guest of the festival in a Skwigly capacity back in 2013 and had an absolute blast so it's wonderful to finally be involved as a filmmaker under any circumstances.
Speed plays in the International Competition of Very Short Films on December 5th at 5pm among a stellar lineup. Check out their website and socials for full schedule and ticket info as it comes. Merci, mes amis!

In the meantime, this year's Manchester Animation Festival has officially kicked off and you'd be, if you'll pardon my language, a darn ninny if you missed out on it. Some personal recommendations include the Short Films Panorama including Laura-Beth Cowley's film The Gift, the MAFter Dark live watch-party featuring Speed, Marie-Ève Lacelle's ToonBoom Harmony masterclass plus a chance to catch the new Cartoon Saloon film Wolfwalkers as well as a Snowden-Fine retrospective and Q&A. Also this year's Skwigly Quiz is looking to be a fun one - alas it's sold out at this point but for those of you who managed to nab a ticket in time we've cooked up some fun stuff for our first online version so hopefully you'll get a kick out of it. There are still plenty of other events available so be sure to check out their full schedule and lineup here.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Old friends

A couple of familiar festivals on the horizon for Speed. From November 11th through to December 13th the digital edition of the magnificent Interfilm Berlin will be taking place and I'm grateful to be among the line-up of their special programme Eject _XXIII - The Long Night of Weird Shorts. I guess I'm nothing if not consistent as Klementhro screened as part of Eject XVIII five years ago - always nice to be back amongst my fellow weirdos. The programme will be available to stream from November 23rd-29th via the Sooner platform - from the 11th you can grab your tickets here

Another event I'm pretty stoked about is Estonia's PÖFF Shorts, the sub-festival of the prestigious Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Way back in 2009 PÖFF was one of the first events to give my student film House Guest some indecent exposure and I've not managed to weasel my way back into any of their line-ups since, so this is a li'l nugget o' gratification. This one runs from November 17th through to the 25th and will be an online/physical hybrid event. Speed is part of the shorts programme Late Night Love that has two near-simultaneous screenings on November 25th - 7:45pm (in Hall 7 of Tallinn's Coca-Cola Plaza) and 8pm at Tartu's Athena Center. If you're not feeling it yet when it comes to physical screenings you can find info on how the online viewing works here.

Thursday, 5 November 2020


Hola m'lovelies. Hope you're all staying safe and sane as we slide into another month of nationally-regulated hermitude. Now would be as good a time as any to stock up on some fine animation literature and, thanks to the modern miracle of targeted marketing, I've just gotten wind that my book Independent Animation: Directing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films is part of a Mastering Animation collection curated by the fine folks at CRC Press. The collection is available via Humble Bundle and, from what I gather, is a tiered bundle where you pay in increments to unlock a range of titles in eBook format, so the more you pay the more you get access to. I don't know much more other than that and frankly have no idea if the arrangement does or doesn't benefit me in any particular way, but as the only complaint I ever hear about the book is its price tag I'm always keen to spread the word if there are more cost-effective ways for folks to get their mitts on it. Also some of the profits will go to the Hero Initiative which is a pretty decent cause.

It's a pay-what-you-like system but the site has a breakdown of what you get for your cash, what I do know is that if you go with the highest tier you get 23 books that would cost you a pretty massive wedge if you bought them all individually. Among the other books in the collection my main recommendations (some of which I've reviewed already) include Bill Plympton's Make Toons That Sell (Without Selling Out), Floyd Norman's Animated Life, Adam Phillips's Animate To Harmony as well as Tony Bancroft's Directing For Animation, Hane Bacher's Dream Worlds and Acting and Performance for Animation, an essential text on character animation by Derek Hayes and my old UWE mentor Chris Webster. 

You have about eighteen days from today to snap 'em up, if it grabs ya then you can find more info here.

If you'd still prefer the satisfying weight, girth and aroma of a physical book then the paperback edition of Independent Animation is also presently available at a reduced price as part of Routledge/CRC's current sale that goes until November 15th. As is often the case with their sale offers you get 20% off if you buy it on its own and 25% off for two or more books. Holiday season's just around the corner, don'cha know...

Friday, 23 October 2020

“To beginnings…and endings. And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Something of a Skwigly milestone this week with the release of our landmark 100th episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast.

Fittingly enough it's a guest roster of heavy-hitters as we welcome back Tomm Moore and meet Ross Stewart of Cartoon Saloon, directors of the stunning new feature film Wolfwalkers that is released in cinemas from October 26th and will be available on Apple TV+ from December 11th. I was lucky enough to get snuck in to a screening of this one at the BFI London Film Festival a couple weeks back and it's absolutely gorgeous, so be sure to give it some love.

We also welcome back previous podcast guest and Oscar-winner Glen Keane to discuss his new CG feature Over the Moon, released today on Netflix, as well as Vanessa Harryhausen, daughter of the legendary Ray Harryhausen and author of the new book Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema that  accompanies the exhibition of the same name.

Also discussed in this episode: The evolution of digital film festivals from our various perspectives as programmers, attendees and filmmakers, upcoming highlights from Manchester Animation Festival and Cardiff Animation Festival, the arbitrary furore of Disney’s updated content warnings and the site-breaking popularity of Vivziepop – plus we read out messages from the Skwigly audience, having desperately solicited approval.

Direct download here or stream the episode below:

Producing and hosting this series alongside our various other podcast strands (if you add them all up the full tally is 190 episodes) has been an enormously gratifying ongoing project over the years, one that has not only granted me time with some of my biggest personal inspirations but also forged strong relationships with some of the animation industry's most important organisations and events. 

Aaaaaand migraine.

In an ideal world it would go on forever but the inconvenient reality is that the kind of free time I had available back when it started over eight years ago just isn't there anymore, and as it's never been a source of direct income it will have to proceed sporadically, if at all. In truth that's already been the case this past year and nobody's complained, and I have no desire to hang it up outright so I'm just going to roll with the punches. Tentative plan is to have it be a seasonal thing but you never know what circumstances will dictate, especially these days. In the meantime if you have a few pennies you'd be happy to throw our way you can support the site here. But if you don't we still like ya anyways.