Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The weeks ahead

The Balkanima European Animation Film Festival kicks off today, with Laura-Beth Cowley's film The Gift among its official selection. If you're checking out the event be sure to catch the film in their Main Competition Program 3 that will be streaming this Thursday October 22nd at 9pm CET. It's been a while but I remember this event as one that gave my films a chance during the earlier days of me putting them out there so it's great to see they're still at it.

Some super exciting news is that the Cardiff Animation Festival have decided to go ahead with their 2020 edition after all, albeit in digital form. As you might recall from earlier this year, both The Gift and my latest film Speed were part of the line-up which remains the case - you can see them as part of the programmes Shorts 2: Body and Shorts 3: Heart respectively, both available from October 24th through the November 1st with special live-stream watch parties on October 27th at 4pm and 7pm.

Laura-Beth and I will also be wearing our interviewers' caps for two Animators' Brunch Q&A sessions you might want to check out. They'll be free to attend and taking place at 11am on October 25th and November 1st. Other events definitely worth taking a peek at include Directing Bob's Burgers with Simon Chong (6pm October 24th) a special Visible in Visuals panel (6pm October 29th) as well as presentations for Moonvalley (11am October 31st) and The Rubbish World of Dave Spud (1pm October 31st). There's a whole heap more on offer so be sure to give the full schedule your attention.

Another event that will be taking place toward the end of this month with be Maniatic - the Fantastic International Film Festival of Manises over in Valencia, Spain. This one will be including a rarer (these days) screening of my 2018 film Sunscapades, which will be part of the Children's Session on October 30th at 5pm. Hopefully it won't give the young'uns nightmares. Check out the full programme and venue/COVID info at the festival's official website

Curiously, just over a week later Sunscapades is getting itself another Spanish screening at the Festival BaideFest Roses. This one will be the slightly less kid-friendly screening Horror Geek COVID Block VII that takes place November 7th from 10pm at the Municipal Theatre of Roses. How 'bout that?

Monday, 12 October 2020

Chatty Ben

The Encounters Film Festival has wrapped up and, all things, considered, it came together brilliantly. Interface-wise the digital presentation of the festival had the best UX of any I've been able to check out and it was a real pleasure to be able to contribute to the filmmaker Q&A panel hosting. I'm still not sure if there are any plans to release these outside of the festival but either way many thanks to Kieran and the team for having me and to Guy Larsen, Cambria Bailey-Jones, Taha Khan (Cavetown: Green), Henriette Rietz (POSTPARTUM), Natalia Durszewicz (Portrait of a Woman), Guy Charnaux (Nox Insomnia), Chun Chun Chang (Aura), Jiaqi Wang (2.3 x 2.6 x 3.2) , Imge Özbilge, Sine Özbilge (Mosaic), Will Anderson (Betty), Pieter Coudyzer (The Passerby), Anita Killi (Mother Didn’t Know), Emma Lazenby (For Baby’s Sake), Ivyy Chen (Isle of Chair), Catherine Lepage (The Great Malaise), Jim Batt (The Grave of Saint Oran), Daniel Quirke (The Song of A Lost Boy), Russ Etheridge (Armstrong), Simone Giampaolo (Only a Child), Fiona McLaughlin, Aimée Kirkham Priester (TOT), Ollie Magee (Nod. Wink. Horse.), Camrus Johnson (GRAB MY HAND: A Letter to My Dad) and Andrew Brand (Rex Song) for taking part and sharing their insights.

As well as our respective filmmaker Q&A sessions Laura-Beth Cowley and I were able to participate in a small-scale in-person screening over at the Watershed for the unusually high percentage of Bristol-based filmmakers involved in this year's edition. The festival has uploaded the Q&A sessions (in which myself and Laura-Beth chat about Speed and The Gift respectively) to their Facebook page and you can give them a watch below, if for no other reason than to be awed by the early-seasons-of-Frasier skullet I've unwittingly grown during lockdown.

Friday, 9 October 2020

Sexy sexy talk about sexy sexy sex innit

Laura-Beth and I have this week wrapped our third season (in the loose sense of the term) of Intimate Animation, our podcast series on animation that deals with themes of love, relationships and sexuality.

In this episode we meet Nadja Andrasev, whose film Symbiosis tells the story of a betrayed wife investigating her husband’s mistresses who finds her jealousy is gradually replaced by curiosity. Having premiered internationally at last year’s edition of the Annecy festival, the film has gone on to win a multitude of awards including the Zlatko Grgić Award for best first film made outside of an education institution at Animafest Zagreb this month.

Also discussed in this episode: Recent animation festival highlights including Betty (Will Anderson), Nox Insomnia (Guy Charnaux), Sex Moves (Alex Bernas), For Baby’s Sake (Emma Lazenby), Altötting (Andreas Hykade), Just A Guy (Shoko Hara) and Cwch Deilen/Leaf Boat (Efa Blosse-Mason) as well as BlinkInk/Zombie‘s recent animated spot Love Story for Viagra and J.G. Quintel‘s new series Close Enough.

Direct download link is here or you can stream below if you please:

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

End o' month bits o' business

Following on from episode one, the second Visible in Visuals podcast has gone up today in which panelists Esther AjibadeBimpe AlliuMel GarberMohamed OrekanRizwan RafiqTanya J ScottAsh Wu and Beverly Yeang are chaired by Hodan Abdi to discuss the question “Why is fair and diverse representation within animation important and how can we improve it?”
In this panel, representation within animation content – and how these representations impact the audience watching it – is discussed from a POC perspective. Download here or stream below:

To get in touch with – or learn more about – Visible in Visuals you can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and email visibleinvisuals {at} gmail.com.
While you're on Skwigly you might want to catch up on some recent interviews as it's been a minute or two since I've mentioned any on here. Recently I spoke with Cliona Noonan when her film was part of the Cardiff Animation Nights August screening; her film Wet & Soppy has since been released online and nabbed a Vimeo Staff Pick so give it a watch and learn more here. 
I was also able to catch up with Daniel Gray whose previous film teeth (co-directed with Tom Brown) was a major case-study in my book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films. In our latest interview he discusses his spooky solo follow-up HIDE, made in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada, La Cellule Productions and CUB Animation, in anticipation of its premiere at the Ottawa International Animation Festival last week.
Two other NFB productions screening at OIAF this year are Robin McKenna's Thanadoula as well as 4 North A, which brings together the talents of Jordan Canning and animator Howie Shia (whose previous work we've covered includes BAM and Marco's Oriental Noodles). They're all visually stunning pieces and well worth learning more about, so give the interviews a read and keep your eyes peeled for the films as they're sure to be hitting the festival circuit in a big way.

More nifty news for Laura-Beth Cowley's The Gift in that it is among the Finalists in the Salem Horror Fest's Wicked Shorts programme that takes place this weekend! You really couldn't imagine a better pairing. Looks like there's a lot of great things on to sink your teeth into so take a peek at the full programme here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

That festive feelin'

Some wonderful news in that both Laura-Beth Cowley's The Gift and my latest film Speed will both be among the line-up at this year's digital edition of the Manchester Animation Festival. As regular readers will be aware this is an event we've had a particularly fond relationship with in multiple capacities since it began five years ago. Festivalgoers can catch The Gift as part of the Short Films Panorama from November 15th with Speed part of the notorious MAFter Dark programme that will stream 9pm on the 18th. While the traditional Skwigly-curated screenings won't be part of this year's edition we are still cooking up an online version of our notoriously hair-thinning Skwigly Quiz that will be held on the 17th at 9pm, so hopefully see you there!

Quick follow-up to my recent post on this year's Encounters Film Festival, my dual role as both participating filmmaker and event helper-elf has called for a bit of schedule reshuffling and my original interview session has been moved from today to next week, mainly as I'm now hosting today's and things would run the risk of getting too meta if I interview myself.

If you're scratching your heads, basically I'll be running the following panels for the animation selection:

  • 23/09 - Animation 3: Short Shorts 1
  • 25/09 - Animation 5: Eyes on the World 1
  • 28/09 - Animation 6: Alumni 1
  • 01/10 - Animation 9: Trailblazers 2
  • 02/10 - Animation 10: Eyes on the World 2
  • 05/10 - Animation 11: Brits and Pieces
  • 07/10 - Animation 12: Short Shorts 3

All of these take place at noon and will be posted up the evenings of their initial live streams and available until the end of the festival. The other sessions will be hosted by Encounters' Animation Programmer Kieran Argo at the same time each day, so be sure to check 'em all out. Overall these will cover a far wider spectrum of participants than the live Q&As of past editions have been able to so that's a bit of silver lining as far as our current predicament goes. For those of you chomping at the bit to hear my pithy insights into the making of Speed, I believe I'll be part of the noon panel on the 30th (a week today). Tune in and give me a good grillin' why doncha?

Monday, 21 September 2020

Another little'un

New music for your Monday!

Hell For Leather, my latest EP in anticipation of the still-cooking Struwwelpeter album My Head Is Too Small For My Body, is up now on a bunch of platforms to stream/purchase. As well as an instrumental version of the title track it also features alternate non-LP versions of Act Right (which originally appeared on my 2015 LP The Birdcage) and the previously-unreleased Worst of You, which will be a bit longer and ruder on the album proper when it comes out.

Depending on where your loyalties lie you can check it out on Spotify (below), Bandcamp, Google Play, Apple Music, Amazon and Deezer, with more to come.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Speedy September

Hey there, youngfolk. You're all looking sprightly today.

Some general updates regarding the screening schedule of my latest film Speed for the rest of this month, which has turned out to be rather busy. Firstly the magnificent folks over at Pictoplasma will be showing it as part of their third short film programme Together, Apart, which will stream this Saturday September 19th at 5pm Germany time (4pm here in the UK) on the Festival Stream channel. If you're a fellow attendee I'm gonna try and nose my way into the Zoom meet'n'greet directly after the programme, so maybe see you there.

This weekend also sees the Encounters Film Festival here in Bristol kicking off for three massive weeks up until October 11th. My understanding is that, rather than there being specific screening slots, festival passholders will have access to the full programme to peruse at their leisure for the duration, so get on it! I will however be participating in a livestreamed filmmaker Q&A that festivalgoers can tune into this coming Wednesday, September 23rd at noon. In fact I'll be hosting a few of the other sessions as I'd previously done for the physical edition, so there's a chance you'll see my adorable hairy mug regardless. UPDATE 18/09: I've also just gotten wind that Speed will be part of a special Comedy Shorts presentation that will stream to passholders from 8pm tonight!

Then on Saturday September 26th you can catch Speed as part of the digital programme for this year's Anima Syros, closing out their International Panorama V screening which starts at 10:30pm in the Posidonia Virtual Hall. For the more adventurous Grecians among ye, there will also be a nearly-simultaneous (starting 10:45pm that same night) open-air screening of the same programme you can check out instead, which will be at the Posidonia Tsiropina Mansion. Fancy!

Also on the 26th the film will be screening as part of the Tokyo Anime Award Festival's delayed presentation of this year's films in competition from earlier this year. Speed will screen in Slot 3 at 7pm, repeated the following day at 4:55pm at the New Bungeiza (Marhan Ikebukuro Building 3F).

In non-Speed-but-still-animation-screening-ey news, I should mention that Laura-Beth and I will again be mucking in with our pals at Cardiff Animation Nights this month for some Skwigly filmmaker Q&As, this time with participating animation talents Ivyy Chen (Isle of Chair) and Tobias Rud (But Jane Was Deaf) respectively. It's another pearler of a screening so be sure to tune in to their YouTube channel this Thursday September 24th at 8pm and treat yourselves.

Friday, 4 September 2020

State of the world

A couple new podcasts for your listenin' ears, folks!

Firstly I'm enormously proud to present the first podcast from Visible In Visuals, a new organisation pushing to make the animation and visual effects industries more inclusive. Following on from animator Tanya Scott's Skwigly piece Inclusion & Diversity in UK Animation Workforce: A Response, and subsequent online discussions including the recent panel Inclusion In Animation organised by ScreenSkills, UWE and the Cardiff Animation Festival, Visible In Visuals has been developed by Tanya and Hodan Abdi as an online platform pushing to make the animation and VFX industries more diverse and inclusive through honest, open conversation.

The first Visible In Visuals panel Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: A People of Colour Perspective features panelists Bimpe Alliu, Rizwan Rafiq, Mohamed Orekan and Tanya Scott. Direct download here or stream above.

We've also wrapped up another batch of Skwigly Film Club podcasts this week, with our latest episode seeing us watch-through another Raymond Briggs weepie When the Wind Blows, directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. These have been a lot of fun to do and I reckon it's very likely they'll continue once we're all a little less busy later on in the year. Certainly it looks like this lockdown lark isn't easing up anytime soon so it's a nice little series to have bubbling away. Give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or regular-ass email if you have any film suggestions for when it kicks off again. In the meantime you can stream the episode below or get it downloaded here.

Friday, 28 August 2020

End o'week twofer

Crikey, two blog posts in one week. It's starting to get like the before times up in here.

Firstly I want to say thanks to all the folks who checked out last night's Cardiff Animation Nights screening and to the wonderful filmmakers Lana Simanenkova, Cliona Noonan and Justin Hilden for participating in our Skwigly Q&As afterwards. It was really encouraging to see such a positive response over the feed and knock wood we'll be able to do more like it in the near future. Kudos as always to Lauren, Ellys and the CAN team for a great selection and for keeping enthusiasm for this kind of thing alive.

To wrap up this week I have news of two more events that will be including my latest film Speed, the first being the Warsaw Animation Film Festival that, having kicked off yesterday, will be including the film in the Professional Animation Competition Block 3: Twisted all throughout Sunday (August 30th) via the online platform MOJEeKINO. You can check out the full programme here. Dziękuję, folks!

The tremendous Anima Syros festival has also revealed that Speed is among their official selection this week. This was one of the first events to give Klementhro a punt around five years back so they hold a special place in my heart. This time around my film will be included as part of the International Panorama alongside some magnificent work and, all being well, the festival will run from September 23rd through to the 27th as a 'Phygital' edition. More info on how that will manifest itself and programme specifics when it comes.

That's all from this guy. Enjoy your bank holiday, kids!

Monday, 24 August 2020

What? 'Spalpeen' is definitely a word.

Happy Monday, youngfolk!

This year's edition of the magnificent Encounters Film Festival has announced its Official Selection, which I'm excited to say includes my latest film Speed as well as Laura-Beth's The Gift among what looks like an absolutely stellar line-up. For those of you paying attention - yes, I was on the preselection team for the festival again and no, I didn't get to preselect the films I worked on. But I would have in a goddamn heartbeat because I'm a lovably unscrupulous spalpeen and, frankly, they're delightful.

Other personal highlights include some films/filmmakers recently covered on Skwigly, such as Michaela Mihályi and David Štumpf's SH_T HAPPENS, Theodore Ushev's The Physics of SorrowAndreas Hykade's Altötting and Robin Shaw's The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Of course this will be a digital edition and you can find out more info as it comes via the festival website in the coming weeks.

That reminds me, following up on my earlier post regarding Speed's inclusion as part of Fest Anča's Extremely Short Selection of Extremely Short Films - it looks like that one is indeed going ahead as a physical edition. Obviously they have precautions set up but it'll be an indoor screening, so if you swing by then be sure to be safe and, y'know, make sure you don't hug your nan for a while. At any rate it'll be this Friday 11pm at the Stanica Žilina-Záriečie in the EKSEKF 2 programme.

Back to Skwiglyville, we've wrapped up our second batch of Skwigly Film Club episodes, so if you're not yet caught up then head over to the site to catch our recent watch-throughs of George Dunning's Yellow Submarine and Jonathan Myerson's The Canterbury Tales. Also if you want to weigh in on what we look at next then be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter and cast your votes during the playoffs.

If you fancy something else to listen to then you can siphon a previously-unreleased upload I dusted off over the weekend into your trembling little earholes. This is an alternate, non-explicit edit of the opening track to my 2015 LP The Birdcage plucked from a pile of prospective b-sides for the next EP that will hopefully be going up soon. It was quite a long time ago that I put this one together so I don't remember much about making it other than having some fun with the funky-worm synth during the bridge. Anyways, here it is:

Weren't that purtey? Right, now scram, ya ingrates.