Thursday, 28 April 2016

Niemals mehr gesehen

Seems like a nice bunch.
Just a reminder that I'm headed to ITFS Stuttgart tomorrow for a weekend of animation-oriented Germanic merriment. Hope to see some of you there! Should you be about don't forget that Klementhro will screen as part of International Competition 5 which will take place this Saturday, 9pm April 30th at the Gloria 1 and again at 11am on Sunday (May 1st) at the Metropol 2. I'll also be at the Filmmaker Talks at 1pm on the Sunday, if any other festival guests wish to check it out and take me to task it will be held at the Café le Théâtre.
Some other events I'm really looking forward to include a filmmaker focus on the wonderful Špela Čadež and a presentation of recent projects from the Animation Workshop, not to mention the remaining competition and panorama screenings that include some films I can't wait to see on the big screen by the likes of Bill Plympton, Rosto, Theodore Ushev, Anni Oja, Izabela Plucinska, Joost Lieuwma and Daan Welsink. Wunderbar!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

"Zip up and let's dance..."
In the latest episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we welcome the highly prolific and acclaimed Dutch animator/multimedia storyteller Rosto. With musical origins that date back to the early nineties, Rosto’s interactive graphic novel project Mind My Gap began in 1998 and has since spawned a number of multi-award-winning animated shorts, including (the rise an fall of the legendary) Anglobilly Feverson, The Monster of Nix, No Place Like Home, Lonely Bones (the concluding chapter of Mind My Gap) and his most recent film Splintertime, which branches off into the continuing adventures of the metaphysical band Thee Wreckers.
Fresh from So Far, So Evil a recent exhibition as part of Animateka Aniweb exploring the Mind My Gap universe that took place at the Museum of Moden Art in Slovenia, Rosto’s Splintertime is still going strong, recently picking up a hat trick (Jury Award, Student Jury Award and Audience Award) of prizes at the European Short Film Festival of Bordeaux with upcoming screenings at this year’s edition of ITFS Stuttgart.
Also discussed in this episode: Skwigly anxiety dreams, forehead breasts, upcoming features (The Secret Life of Pets, Angry Birds and the extremely necessary Emoji movie), animators that push the limits and more!
Stream the latest episode below or direct download here.
To catch up on the podcast so far be sure to visit the Podcasts section of the site and, so as not to miss out on any future episodes, you can subscribe on iTunes!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Schaffhausen sightseeing
Lonesome, paddle-dependent Klementhro's journey is ever-continuing, with more upcoming screenings imminent. First off we have the next two stops of the Short Film Nights tour in Switzerland, which will see the film playing in Winterthur at Kino Kiwi Loge this Friday April 22nd, then again the following night in Schaffhausen at Kino Kiwi Scala. Visit the tour's official website for full time, venue and ticket info.
Also this Saturday (April 23rd) Klementhro will screen again at Ukraine's Kyiv International Short Film Festival in a repeat showing of their Animation Madness selection that originally took place last month, so if you missed it the first time and happen to be in the area then swing by the Kinopanorama at 2pm (the English listing says 4pm but I think that's a typo) and check 'er out!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Storm a-brewin'

The glut of April adventuring for our unlikely lad Klementhro is about to kick off good and proper, so here's a quickie roundup of where and when to catch him.
The next stop of the ongoing Kurzfilmnacht Schweiz tour throughout Switzerland will be Biel/Bienne, a city so nice they named it twice, evidently. The programme will kick off at Kino Rex at 8pm on April 15th - more info here.
As mentioned previously, the film will be playing at the Skepto International Film Festival, kicking off their Skeptyricon screening that also takes place on the 15th, at 10:25pm. The screening will play simultaneously at the Hostel Marina and the Auditorium Comunale in Cagliari. I'm very pleased to see it will screen alongside such excellent work as MANOMAN and Mute by recent podcast guests Simon Cartwright and Job, Joris and Marieke respectively.
Later on in the month I'm informed the film will get its Stateside debut at Kraken Con, a cartoons, comics and cosplay convention that takes place in Oakland, California. The film will be included in the event's inaugural animation festival which kicks off 2pm on Sunday 24th at the Oakland Convention Center, keep your eyes on their website for more info as it comes.
I can also now confirm that Klementhro will indeed be part of ITFS Stuttgart's official selection this year. This is wonderful news as I was able to attend the festival in 2011 when they included The Naughty List and had such a good time I swore to myself I'd be back the following year with a new film. Instead it's taken five years, but hey, I get there in the end. The film will screen in the International Competition 5 programme at 9pm on April 30th at the Gloria Kino (screen 1) and again at 11am on May 1st at the Metropol (screen 2). I'll be in attendance for those dates so if anyone else plans on being there give me a shout!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Visdüm Tooten

Still need painkillers but at least the swelling's going down
After months of needless delays I've finally had my shitting bastard wisdom tooth pulled. It's been a thorn in my arse every few months for the past couple years and I was cheerfully informed in my drooling, post-extraction haze that the removal couldn't have gone worse and as such the inside of my head has so many stitches Jennifer Chiaverini could write a goddamn novel about it. I was hoping to get to keep the tooth afterward so I could occasionally take it out and taunt "Haha, shithead, I beat you in the end!" but apparently it came out in like fifty different pieces that then each splintered off into fifty more different pieces, so I was denied even that simple joy. As such I find myself nursing a more swell't head than usual and taking painkillers to the point of potential liver damage. Luckily I have the new Don Hertzfeldt Blu-ray to take my mind off it.
While I was stoned off my gourd at the clinic yesterday the latest Skwigly Podcast went up, this one featuring Felix Massie who is presently working at Nexus on the latest Google Spotlight Stories project Rain or Shine. This comes on the heels of some highly-acclaimed work such as Keith Reynolds Can't Make it Tonight and the particularly excellent In The Air is Christopher Gray.
Also discussed amongst Steve and myself are the usual pertinent industry issues such as which is the better Batman and why 'College Jock' and 'Tube Steak' are both in my search history. It's a fun one, bung it on and brighten your day, why doncha?
As always you can direct download and/or subscribe.
I also spent last weekend gleefully revisiting the old 90s video game chestnut Day of the Tentacle which has been reissued with updated graphics (blessedly it's the same design and animation, just traced over for HD resolution purposes) and all sorts of goodies. I've also put up a review of the original game and its new incarnation that in part borrows from an earlier post on here. All in all my appreciation for the subject remains the same as it did in 2007.
Some more Klementhro news - the film's next stops on the Kurzfilmnacht Schweiz tour will be this Friday 8th in Baden-Wettingen with the evening's screenings kicking off at 7pm at the Kino Orient, with another showing the following evening (the 9th, which to be fair most of you could have worked out yourselves) in Aarau at the Kino Center Schloss, again starting at 7pm.
More immediately, however, the film will play tonight in the Czech Republic at the Prague Rock Café at 7:30pm as part of AniScreen's series of thematically-curated screening nights. I clocked this by happenstance at the last minute so apologies for the short notice, but to whoever might be reading this in Prague (it's a very light shade of green on my stats map, I'll concede) that fancies something to do tonight then swing on by!
A bit of a tease to end on is that I cheerily note a certain handsome, wall-eyed ginger appears to show up in the pocket guide for this year's edition of ITFS Stuttgart. What might that mean, I asks ya? Stay tuned...

Monday, 28 March 2016

"Satirico, grottesco e oltre"

Zürich ho!
As March wraps its sweet little self up I'm happy to be able to bring you folks up to speed with what awaits paddling troublemaker Klementhro this coming April.
This Friday (the 1st) he'll begin his involvement in the first of two touring film programs that will be playing throughout Switzerland. The first - Kurzfilmnacht Schweiz - will be focusing on Swiss-German speaking cities, with its first screenings taking place in Zürich at two venues, the Arthouse Le Paris at 8:30pm and the Arthouse Uto at 9pm. Klementhro will be part of the Happy Aging program, more info for which can be found by clicking here.
Later on in the month I'm happy to say the film will be playing at the Skepto International Film Festival, an event I'm well-acquainted with as it has screened both Ground Running and The Naughty List in the past. It's in some excellent company this time around, screening alongside such terrific filmmakers as Simon Cartwright, Job, Joris and Marieke, Konstantin Bronzit and Réka Bucsi. Klementhro will play as part of the Skeptyricon (Satire, Grotesque and Beyond) screening and the festival itself will run from April 13th to 16th in Cagliari, Italy. More specifics to follow, but in the meantime you can check out the festival website here.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Girls just wanna have fun
Hi there, faithful readers. I hope you're having yourselves a long Good Friday. I've personally spent the last week and a bit hacking my lungs out through my eyeholes, as evidence by my Lemsip-soaked mumblings and grumblings in the latest Skwigly Podcast which went up this week.
It's not all grousing and spluttering, however, as the interview segment is from a couple weeks back when I still had my voice and was privileged to meet the fantastic directorial duo Charlie Kaufman (he who penned such fantastic films as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Starburns Industries' ace Duke Johnson, discussing their phenomenal independent stop-mo feature Anomalisa. The film is still out in select UK cinemas and I can't recommend it enough. Give it a stream below or a download here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Where are you going, Klementhro?

Things have been a little quiet on the bayou of late, but my latest film Klementhro is looking to have a pretty exciting couple of months ahead.
I haven't really spoken much about this film as there wasn't much by way of development, it just sort of...happened. I put it out semi-anonymously to a handful of festivals last year and was met with a fairly tepid success rate, however upon seeing it go down very well for the first time in November I have a little bit of renewed enthusiasm for it. It won't be setting the world aflame, but people - not everyone, mind - seemed to get it way more than I expected.
At any rate, in the lead-up to a busy April it will screen this weekend as part of the Kyiv International Short Film Festival's pre-fest celebrations in honour of the event's fifth anniversary. It's in some fine company too, alongside work by Florian Grolig, Priit Tender, Réka Bucsi and Rory Waudby-Tolley. The screening takes place this Saturday, March 19th, then repeated on Sunday 20th. You can find out more specific info on the official site or the Facebook event page.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mad Marchness

So far we're on one post per month in blogland; available time in which to jot down my pithy observations has been scarce, to say the least. Any floating nuggets of assumption that this year would prove less busy than my hair-thinning 2015 have been well and truly flushed away at this point.
I don't think there'll be anything I'll be able to show for the current contract I'm on for a good little while but here's a roundup of what's been happening elsewise.
The last few Skwigly podcasts have boasted some excellent animation guests, including:
Australian indie director Elliot Cowan (The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead) in episode 43...
...Louis Hudson and Ian Ravenscroft of Dice Productions discussing their career and recently released Nickelodeon short DuckManBoy in episode 44...
...not to mention Dan Gray and Tom Brown of Holbrooks, whose wonderfully grim short teeth was one of my top picks of last year, in episode 45:
Treat yourselves and get caught up!
As far as written features go, there are two recent interviews with NFB filmmakers Sarah Van Den Boom whose tremendous film In Deep Waters is an exploration of ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’; a constant sense of incompleteness that can stem from our time in the womb. I'm also very happy to once again speak with Theodore Ushev, this time on his latest film Blind Vaysha, an adventurous stereoscopic piece adapted from a short story by Georgi Gospodinov, shortly after its premiere at Berlinale in February.
I'm also incredibly happy to have interviewed Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman on his first animated feature Anomalisa, a truly atypical stop-motion film that comes out this weekend in the UK. It may not be for everyone but it's such a breath of fresh air midst all the generica doing the rounds. Also interviewed is co-director Duke Johnson, whose acclaimed credits include Community and Mary Shelley's Frankenhole. The film is out tomorrow throughout the UK, I highly recommend you check out the listings to see if it's playing near you.
That's all for now. Hopefully see you again before another month goes by...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Goings On

Apologies for the quiet start to the year. Not that I presume anyone's on tenterhooks for the latest Ben Mitchell bon mot, but still. On top of the unending goddamn death parade January was when it comes to people I love in the worlds of film and music, closer to home there has been a peculiar glut of family hardship and tragedy that has been very difficult to just grin and wade through.
Tempted as I've sometimes been to use this blog as a repository for personal woes, I'll once more abstain and keep focused on the positives. Mainly that there is an abundance of love and support in my life that I'm beyond grateful for, that I have a job I've been especially enjoying of late and that the good news for 2016 is starting to trickle in. On the latter front I should have some updates soon, but in the meantime here's some Skwigly stuff to get caught up on:
We have two new podcasts for January, the first in which Steve meets Disney'n'Dragon's Lair veterans Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the second featuring Mike and Tim Rauch of Rauch Bros. Animation who, among other work, produced many of the Storycorps animated shorts. For those not familiar with Storycorps, they're essentially a collection of animated oral histories/documentaries, making great use of industry talent such as Jim Smith, Bill Wray and Stephen deStefano (all of whom I've been a huge fan of since the days of their Ren and Stimpy tenure).
On the subject of animated docs, George Sander-Jackson (with whom we previously spoke in episode 10 of the podcast) recently corralled a group of some fantastic animators to direct short animated segments detailing stories of postnatal mental illness for Animated Minds, the aim being to spread awareness to families facing similar issues as well as healthcare professionals. As well as being gorgeously rendered they are also fascinating and tremendously informative so I recommend you give them all a watch and learn more about how they came together from the directors themselves:
Animated Minds: Stories of Postnatal Depression
Elsewhere on the site I recently spoke with The Secret Life of Pets director Chris Renaud (of Despicable Me and Minions fame) in anticipation of the film's Summer release, learned a bit about the animated revival of a 'lost episode' of Dad's Army from some pals who worked on it, interviewed New York-based Australian animator Elliot Cowan on his indie feature The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead (which will screen here in the UK February 13th at Animex) and put up two new Lightbox episodes. The first features my chat with Tomm Moore at the recent KLIK! festival discussing Song of the Sea and his role in Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, the second is a somewhat old (though evergreen) interview Steve did with Mackinnon and Saunders (the fabrication team who created the puppets for Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, Fantastic Mr. Fox and many more), who have an exhibition of their work up at the Waterside Arts Centre for the rest of this month. Give 'em both a watch below:

Other highlights from our contributing writers include a breakdown of this year's VFX Oscar hopefuls by Nathan Wilkes, Stephen Cavalier celebrates Chris Shepherd's Dad's Dead (one of my personal favourites, recently remastered in HD) as part of his 100 Greatest Animated Shorts series, Laura-Beth interviews Sheridan grad Edlyn Capulong on her wonderfully weird short Lucy and the Limbs and Julia Young dissects Frédéric Doazan's brutal and brilliant satirical piece Supervenus, which was recently given an official online release. Definitely give this one a watch (maybe not while having your dinner) - it's sort of Terry Gilliam-meets-Embarrassing Bodies-meets-Saw:
That'll do for now. Keep 'em peeled in the coming weeks for some exciting announcements and the like.