Wednesday, 10 December 2014

And then, terrifyingly, it was already December...

So...yeah...another month kind of slipped through my fingers there. Apologies.
But it's all for the greater good, as I'm sure you'll all come to realise...a year and a half from now. Christ, it just hit me: Before Project Group Hug is done, the world will have seen both a new Faith No More album and a new season of Twin Peaks.
(Apologies again, it appears a blog post can't go by without mentioning one or the other these days)
SO, what's been happening? Aside from the book I've had my toe back in the waters of production music - who knows, you may hear one of my compositional masterworks next time you're flicking through your Freeview or being forced to wait on hold by some ungodly customer service department - whilst also doing a bit of visual stuff for Bristol upstarts Rumpus Animation. Incidentally their first adventure game Betram Fiddle: A Dreadly Business comes out for iOS tomorrow, have a look at the trailer:

I might have had some involvement in that one as well. Just be wary of this lot:
Skwigly news - check out the latest Lightbox episodes, starting with Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson, director of Monkey Love Experiments which recently won itself a Scottish BAFTA.

After this one I took a bit of a break from the series to rethink our approach; Frankly I don't feel it's 'landed' and there may be a better direction to go with it. We shall see, but either way it's back as of today with none other than legendary Disney character designer/animator Glen Keane. Have a watch of Julia Young's excellent interview, the extended version of which will go up next week to launch Lightbox+.

As with previous years we're running our daily advent calendar through to the 25th, with a new artist each day. Here's a smattering:
Greg (of the Brothers) McLeod

Bianca Ansems

Robert Grieves

Katie Steed

Laura-Beth Cowley
On the interview front I was absolutely delighted to get some more time with Aardman's Peter Lord (who I previously interviewed in 2012 for his film The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists) as well as Nick Park, the man behind Wallace and Gromit which makes him a bit of a goddamn rockstar.
The interview went up on Monday in anticipation of tonight's Bristol Encounters event Lip Synch: A 25 Year Celebration which looks back at some of the studio's early work, including their first Oscar winner in Nick Park's Creature Comforts.
This era of their formative creativity represents my fondest memories of their work (well, on a par with The Wrong Trousers) so it was a real treat to get some time to natter about it. Incidentally I had also previously chatted with Richard 'Golly' Starzak, director of Ident, in episode 11 of the podcast which you can download here). Special thanks to Kieran from Encounters for helping set up the interview, if you fancy swinging by the event you can book tickets here.
This had to be the most rewound VHS I ever owned. Well, next to Moll Flanders and Video Croissant.
On a musical note, I've been working on a special holiday sampler package as well as polishing a new album for Spring 2015. Supplementing this have been some 'practice' live shows where I've indulged my fondness for covers. Here's a stab at Mr. Bungle's 'Quote Unquote' (AKA 'Travolta'):
And keeping in the pale-Patton-imitation vein, last Saturday I closed my set with FNM throatripper 'Cuckoo For Caca'. If you make it all the way through it's followed by Danny Elfman's 'La Canzone di Sally' from Nightmare Before Christmas, for those who've ever harboured the desire to know what I sound like singing a Disney love song in Italian. Which I can only logically assume is everyone.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Red Letter Day

Xmas in November, it seems. Bloody lovely stuff:

Given that of the three new songs they've played live this was my least favourite and it sounds this goddamn great, I have high hopes. Welcome back, boys.
Also, greatest band photo in the history of band photos (by Dustin Rabin)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The "What the hell happened to October?" Blog Post

Despite my semi-regular declarations of being snowed-under with life, work and other fabricated commitments, it's actually quite rare to let over an entire month go by without forcing my inanities on the blogosphere. Things have kicked into gear in an amazing and, at times, slightly terrifying way and my time is rarely my own. Probably for the best as when I have free reign over my own time I tend to use it playing emulated SNES Lemmings while eating dry cornflakes from the box. I'm not even talking name brand here, folks; I'm talking ASDA's own. Eeyup.
All in all, life is good. Faith No More are plugging away in the studio and Twin Peaks is coming back, so those two alone should give me a will to live at least through 2016. Work-wise I'm back in the bits and pieces world of animation freelancing alongside the now quite full-on Project Group Hug (it's a book, by the way, though I doubt there was any lingering mystery as it's been up on my LinkedIn for a while now).
Whilst researching for this film I lived with The Stig for eleven months
This follows a quite long contract with the fabulous folks at Slurpy Studios doing a series of educational videos for Oxford University Press. It wrapped up in September and you can have a look at a couple of the vids I worked on at the Activate Kerboodle site.
Skwigly is still maintaining its stride with some great coverage up since I last posted. New articles include reviews of Signe Baumane's wonderful Rocks In My Pockets (which I'm delighted to see is performing brilliantly) and Floyd Norman's quasi-autobiographical animation handbook Animated Life.
Interview-wise there are new chats with Canadian NFB directorial duo Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau (No Fish Where To Go) as well as Australian animator Anthony Lawrence (Grace Under Water), both of whose films were screened as part of this year's London International Animation Festival which I was able to swing by. Another NFB film which premiered in the UK recently was Seth's Dominion, a brilliant feature documentary on Canadian cartoonist Seth directed by Luc Chamberland (interview here).
Also worth catching up on are the latest episodes of Lightbox, with J.G. Quintel (Regular Show), Mikey Please (Marilyn Myller) and Dan Ojari (Slow Derek) of Parabella Studios and experimental, drawn-on-film artist Steven Woloshen (1000 Plateaus)
October's podcast has a fabulous line-up also: Animator Craig Smith interviews Tonko House (who made the amazing Dam Keeper), Julia talks to Jorge R. Gutiérrez (director of Reel FX's The Book of Life) and I chat with artist Lisa Hanawalt, designer on Bojack Horseman, a show I have to say I'm quite tickled by.
All the usual listening options are here for you, folks. Stream below, download for keepsies or subscribe, whydoncha?
This marks the twenty-fifth episode to date (not even including the various specials and minisodes) and I have to say the continuing support and feedback over the years has been amazing, so thanks so much to all for keeping us going. From my perspective there's no danger of it slowing down soon, so here's to twenty-five more!
Gawd 'elp us...

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Pale September

Good Lord, the time's whizzing by. We're pretty much at the end of the month and there's much by way of updateables, so tilt yourself at a nice comfy angle and let yourself be gently coated in news.
Firstly we at Skwigly recently did our annual Encounters coverage, this time around covering the festival's 20th anniversary edition which included some excellent events, guests and new films. You can have a read of my competition and special screening highlights as well as Laura-Beth and Julia's top picks of the fest.
Skwigly meet Glen Keane. Pic via Encounters Festival
One major perk across the board was getting to meet Disney veteran Glen Keane, a legendary chap responsible for some of the studio's most iconic contemporary characters who's recently partnered up with Google to create the jaw-dropping interactive short Duet. Expect to see some brilliant insight from the man up on Skwigly in the not-too-distant future.
Another special guest of the festival was Yoni Goodman, who presented the Ari Folman films Waltz With Bashir and The Congress, both of which he served as Animation Director on. I managed to catch The Congress at last year's Sommets du Cinéma d’Animation (you can read my review of it here) and was glad to get a second chance to watch it as there's a great deal to take in. I have some ambivalence toward it as an overall film but visually it's mind-bending and, at times, truly inspired so I'm very glad I got some time with Yoni:
On the subject of Lightbox, last week's episode featured Canadian filmmaker Janet Perlman, whose relationship with the NFB goes back almost 40 years. Her latest short Monsieur Pug premiered at OIAF last week and is a very nice piece of work, so have a watch and keep your eyes out for it:
On the more experimental side of the NFB animation spectrum is Michèle Cournoyer, director of The Hat and Accordion whose most recent short Soif is an equally no-holds-barred affair, exploring the tragedies of alcoholism. The film also played at OIAF and got an honorable mention, you can read more about it and Michèle's work in our interview which went up this morning.
Also up today is our latest Skwigly Podcast, featuring extended interviews with LAIKA President Travis Knight (The Boxtrolls) and Yoni Goodman, as well as a chat with Jesse Cleverly of Wildseed Studios, a Bristol-based initiative for the development of new animated series pilots. Download, subscribe or stream below:
Laura-Beth also chats about her recent involvement with Animation Toolkit's first crowdfunding endeavour Pooch Proposal. The campaign has gone live as of this week, I lent a hand in putting the pitch video together and I recommend you all check it out. Should it go ahead there's some brilliant talent involved and the incentives are excellent, especially for prospective stop-motion animators in the market for high-end, professional grade armature kits:
You can also follow Pooch Proposal on Twitter and like their Facebook page for regular updates and behind-the-scenes goodies.
Another shout-out goes in the direction of Rumpus Animation, whose video game project The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle is soon to be released and currently up on Steam Community for a chance to get picked up. Head on over to their Steam page and give it a vote as it's sure to be a good'un and I hear tell it has some mind-blowing voice talent involved.
I like the guy on the left. Can't explain why, I just get a good vibe off him..

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


This Friday The Boxtrolls, the latest film from LAIKA will be released in cinemas in the UK. With all of us at Skwigly being massive fans of the visual style of Coraline and ParaNorman, this one's pretty hotly anticipated and we managed to bag some nice coverage in the lead-up to release.
Up now we have the latest episode of Lightbox which features an exclusive interview with LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight, a pretty huge get and a major player in the uniquely fascinating story of how the studio came to be (detailed very well in this article from a couple months back). Also featured in this episode is actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright (from Game of Thrones, as the EPK informs me) who plays the film's main character Eggs. This one can't be embedded for use of film clips, though they were provided by the PR company for press purposes so I'm not sure what the dilly-oh is, there. At any rate if you're in the UK you can give it a watch by clicking below:
 Many thanks to Tom Sanders for getting the interviews done. You can also have a read of Laura-Beth's review of the film from last week. It looks to be a good'un.
Laura-Beth is also helping out with a new project by armature specialists Animation Toolkit, in which they'll be putting the equipment they sell to professional use in their own short film Pooch Proposal. It's early days yet but we have it on good authority that some serious animation talent will be involved, so follow them on Twitter and Facebook as it'll be one to watch.
Lastly here's a quick chat with JG Quintel, a very nice fellow who gave us some time at this year's Annecy Festival to talk about his series Regular Show which airs on Comedy Central. It's a fun one so if it's passed you by thus far I'd recommend giving it a look if you get a chance.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


There's some nice new content for y'all over in Skwiglyland. Granted everything that will ever happen, good or bad, in the foreseeable future has been rendered mere background noise after this week's Faith No More news, but on the ever-so-slight offchance that some of you aren't as affected by that as I then why not check out our latest episodes of Lightbox?
In anticipation of his latest short Subconscious Password screening at Encounters later this month, I've repurposed our Chris Landreth interview from our Annecy Special, wherein the forgetful soul talks to Steve about his process.
Keeping things Canadian, this week's episode features my old paisan Phil Vaucher who does things with sand and salt man was never meant to do. Very impressively, I might add. Many moons ago Phil sold me the very lightbox who posed for my mediocre CG intro that opens each episode.
Our third respectable Canuck of the week is visual artist Randall Lloyd Okita, whose NFB short The Weatherman and The Shadowboxer debuts at TIFF this Sunday. It's a beautiful piece of work, especially to those with an eye for good mograph and compositing. Have a read of our interview here.
That's all for this week. Go, disperse, be merry.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Even I'm Uncomfortable

Very late on in the game I was finally nominated by the lovely Laura-Beth to give the ALS Challenge a go. Here is the result:

Friday, 22 August 2014

Group Hug, Everybody!

Two very lovely occurrences worth bringing up have...uh...occurred this week. The first is the news that, after several months of development, pitches and meetings I haven't been in the room for, Project Group-Hug appears to be going ahead! Hurrah! Of course, naturally this means I can tell you what it's all going to be about. But I'm not gonna.
What I will say is it's all set to come together toward the end of 2015 and be out in the world sometime the following year, so try to stay awake until then.
Far more important news came in the form of this tweet which went up the other day:
Regrettably I'd say this removes the foolish hope that Faith No More would have snuck out a surprise new LP before my birthday in October, but it's still a potentially brilliant development nonetheless. In the meantime I'll have to keep myself satisfied with this lovely video by Vincent Forcier for Mr. Patton's other band Tomahawk:
Puppet Patton is the shiz, yo.