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.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Hope you all have a great day off

When new year's rolls around, a fella gets to contemplatin'...

Friday, 30 December 2016

End on a Song
The podcasts keep coming over in Skwiglyland, and I'm very pleased to bring you the end-of-year special Animation Composed, a celebration of the harmonious relationship between music and animation. This one's been brewing for a while as, being a musician myself, I've often found myself enamoured of the consideration that goes into animation music - quite frequently it's something that can make or break a film entirely. With the aid of Skwigly contributor and freelance composer Wez this episode's been put together as a sort of podcast 'pilot' that may very well have series potential depending on how well it goes down. The nice thing about it is that, on top of the regular interview segments the podcast series are known for, there's the inclusion of music itself which makes it a pretty different beast. So settle in for over two hours of standout animation music selections and exclusive interviews with special guests.
In this podcast we speak with Norwegian multi-instrumental composer/performer John Erik Kaada (AKA Kaada) whose discography includes the solo releases Thank You For Giving Me Your Valuable Time, Music For Moviebikers and Junkyard Nostalgias as well as the Kaada/Patton albums Romances and probably my favourite album of this year, Bacteria Cult. Kaada’s work as a composer for independent film scores recently extended into the world of animated shorts with The Absence of Eddy Table, directed by Rune Spaans.
We also meet Scot Stafford and Alexis Harte of Pollen Music Group, the songwriting organisation responsible for the music of the ongoing 360 VR filmmaking series Google Spotlight Stories, which includes the immersive film projects Duet, Windy Day, Buggy Night and Pearl.
Listen to the special below or over on Soundcloud (NB – this episode is streaming only):
Full playlist:
Phil Brookes – Theme from But Milk is Important
Shane HollyCoda (Excerpt 1)
KaadaThe Absence of Eddy Table (trailer snippet)
Thee WreckersNo Place Like Home
Happy Camper – Winnie & Otto (Otto)
Tim and Puma MimiDupi Dough (Ivan’s Need)
Pollen Music Group – No Wrong Way Home (Pearl)
Pollen Music Group – Les Brises (Windy Day)
Happy Camper – The Accident (Otto)
François-Xavier PaquinCrazy Dance (Wackatdooo)
Shane HollyCoda (Excerpt 2)
Pollen Music GroupBuggy Night (Excerpt)
Pollen Music Group – Breathless (Duet)
Phil Brookes – Theme from Three’s A Crowd
Phil Brookes – The Outsider (But Milk is Important)
Thee Wreckers – Splintertime

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Seasonal Cheer (Part 4/4)

You'll be relieved to hear that this post represents the last of what's been a doubtless unnerving bout of goodwill toward men. Well, self-promotion masquerading as goodwill toward men. At least I'm not still trying to get people to buy Throat or watch The Naughty List*.
Today to help balance things out I've instead gathered together some lovely work by some of my favourite creatives and studios, including Rumpus, Blue Zoo, Sun and Moon, Trunk and Mummu, as well as some newcomers. Head on over to Skwigly for the full rundown.

*But seriously folks, buy Throat and watch The Naughty List.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Seasonal Cheer (Part 3/4)
For our Christmas 2016 edition of the Skwigly Animation Podcast Steve, Laura-Beth and myself discuss death, grief, erectile dysfunction and eggnog bathing among other such seasonally appropriate topics. On the guests front we’re pleased to welcome talents from three animation highlights of this holiday season:
Firstly we hear from Jamie Badminton, co-director of Snowy Day, whose previous work includes helming Karrot Entertainment‘s various properties including the hugely successful Sarah & Duck. For Snowy Day Karrot have taken on the daunting task of adapting Ezra Jack Keats’s classic of American children’s fiction to animation for an Amazon Prime special.
Also joining the podcast are Joanna Harrison and Robin Shaw of Lupus Films, who have followed up this year’s acclaimed feature film version of Raymond Briggs’s Ethel & Ernest with another classic book adaptation, Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Channel 4, December 24th 7:30pm and December 25th, 5:25pm).
Last but not least, producer and Magic Light Pictures co-founder Michael Rose (Room on the Broom, Stick Man), discusses the two half-hour Roald Dahl animated specials Revolting Rhymes that he'll be bringing to UK screens (BBC1, December 26th 6:30pm and December 27th 6:30pm).
Lots of goodies indeed. We are, after all, a giving bunch. Give 'er a stream below, why doncha?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Seasonal Cheer (Part 2/4)

With Klementhro nearing the end of its festival run I wanted to do something for the holidays and, as anyone who's seen the film will doubtless attest, this character was the most obvious choice out of all my films for its range and nuance.
Love and thanks to everyone who's been supportive through the peaks and valleys of this year. And indeed special gratitude to those who saw something in my weird little non-film - OFF - Odense International Film Festival, ANONIMUL IFF, LAIKA, Festival International du Film d'Animation de Paris, Animasyros International Animation Festival + Agora, Área de Contenção, interfilm Berlin, Flensburger Kurzfilmtage, Kyiv International Short Film Festival, Nuit du Court Métrage, AniPromítačka/AniScreen, Skepto FilmFest, Kraken Con, Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), Porto7 - Festival Internacional de Curtas-metragens do Porto, Ploiesti International Film Festival (PIFF), Shorts Attack, Animaze - Montreal International Animation Film Festival, TAFF - Turku Animated Film Festival, BUSHO, Linoleum International Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival, Fantoche, Filmfest Eberswalde - Provinziale, filmzeitkaufbeuren, Kurzfilmnacht-Tour, SoDak Motion, Kuandu International Animation Festival, Anima Mundi, Anilogue, MUMIA (Mostra Udigrudi Mundial de Animação), London Short Film Festival.
It's been a blast to reconnect with the community again in this way after several years off and it's bolstered me to crack on with my next film Sunscapades which, all being well, will see the light sometime in 2017. Much love y'all!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Seasonal Cheer (Part 1/4)
My plan to gradually reissue my discography through Bandcamp is very gradually coming together in the smallest of small increments. By the end of this year I'd hoped to have an old 2008 album fully remastered and ready to go up, but as this site attests things have been busy as always and so there's still a bit of work to go. The LP in question - titled The Bug Chaser/The Gift Giver and originally put out as two vinyl EPs under the moniker Silverfish - is something of an oddity and pointedly darker/weirder than the stuff I've done as Struwwelpeter.
As a taster I've instead put together a little sampler EP featuring three remastered tracks from the upcoming re-release as well as two exclusive tracks, one a live recording from 2011 with the opening track Bleed My Weakness previously unreleased (it'd been lying on my HD unfinished for a while under the bizarre title 'cookingsong.rns' - I guess I was cooking when I first started writing it in my head). Here's a little announcement video I made for the new track:
The EP, titled Limp and Numb, is available to buy super-cheap on Bandcamp if you fancy treating yourself or the indie music fan in your life this holiday season. As with other releases you can stream it completely free. In fact I'll embed it below so you don't even need to leave this page. How's that for holiday spirit?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Ron & John Show
For our sixty-third episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we hear from directorial duo Ron Clements and John Musker – whose prior credits include the much-loved Disney features The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992) and Hercules (1997), as well as the more recent 2D animation revival film The Princess and the Frog (2009) – about their latest film Moana, out now in cinemas.
Also discussed in this episode: Animation UK’s recent announcement at 10 Downing Street, highlights from the London International Animation Festival, the continued success of Claude Barras’s My Life as a Courgette/Zucchini, incurring the wrath of Hayao Miyazaki and the bad influence of a certain Quoanna Jinn. Give it a stream down below, you streaming little streamy streamersons: