Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Denmark's the Spot

http://www.filmfestival.dk/
It's been quite a while since my last film festival inclusion, but I've gotten word that my newest film will be screened (possibly premiered) at the Odense International Film Festival in Denmark. I always liked them Denmarkivians - a solid bunch, the lot of them! Worth noting that the film being screened is not the infrequently-mentioned Bullies, which is still mired in its distribution limbo, but another short entirely - a secret, mystery short, if you will, for I am so appealingly secretive and mysterious. At any rate it's good news, especially as I'd been feeling somewhat...without a paddle, I daresay.
On a completely unrelated subject, check out the latest animated Skwigly banner from notorious ghost'n'rock enthusiast Sue Dunham:
Keep your eyes on the site next month as June's banner is gonna be a corker. In the meantime swing by to check out the latest episode of Lightbox, in which I meet Greg McLeod, the visual half of BAFTA-winning sibling team The Brothers McLeod whose work includes Codswallop, 365, Isle of Spagg, Phone Home and the upcoming animated travelogue Marfa:

Monday, 18 May 2015

That other thing I do

http://struwwelpeter.bandcamp.com/album/the-birdcage
It's rare that I get a personal project done and dusted on the exact date I'll have proclaimed I will but, sure enough, today being Sol Invictus/Scarlet Gospels day I've followed through and released my new album The Birdcage. So how 'bout that?
It's been a fair few years since my last full LP, my rate of music production significantly slowed since the days of this particular hobby's function as homework distraction, but I think the extra marinating time makes it a much easier listen. As hinted at earlier, save for the opening track and the odd loud moment here and there it came out very low-key, almost folksy in parts, especially considering how synth-pop-weird the earlier albums had been.
For now you can stream the whole album for free and, should you be so inclined, buy high quality songs for keeps at 50¢ each (you can save a few pennies if you buy the whole LP for a $5). There's no CD version yet but knock wood there'll be time over the summer to put together a nice package for those nostalgic types who still own something that will play a CD. In the meantime here's a track-by-track rundown:
Hope there's something amongst that lot for you to enjoy. While you're sifting through that I'll be drinking in the new Faith No More album and the new Clive Barker book simultaneously. If Alex Kingston can drop by and re-enact Moll Flanders in the corner then my trifecta of mid-nineties nostalgia will be complete.

Friday, 15 May 2015

'Cocky cockerel cuckolding' - quite proud of that one...

The latest podcast is now up! It's been a while but this will hopefully be worth the wait. It features the usual blather-on between myself and Steve on recent and upcoming Skwigly events, gushing over the new Don Hertzfeldt film and the glut of remakes this year has brought. In keeping with the latter I also chat to Ciro Nieli, the Exec Producer on Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the franchise that simply cannot die. Plus my indie hero Bill Plympton joins us again to discuss Revengeance (yet another feature film he's directing, this time in collaboration with writer and fellow indie animator Jim Lujan) and the mockumentary Hitler's Folly. Good stuff all round, so treat yisselfs and stream, download or subscribe away:
It's been a while since the last one, and realistically speaking it's getting less and less tenable to keep doing these podcasts in the same way I've done since I started three years back when both Steve and I didn't have quite so much on our plates. That isn't to say it's going away any time soon - if anything it'll be more of a frequent thing, albeit streamlined. But I'd like to do one more in the 'traditional' format and get us up to thirty before mixing things up a bit.
Also up this week is an interview with Tom Schroeder, whose magnificent animated film work includes Marcel, King of Tervuren, a tale of cocky cockerel cuckolding and one of my absolute favourites of 2013. When you've had a read of the interview give the film a watch, it's a good'un:

Monday, 11 May 2015

You had me at "I'd like to peel your skin off"

http://www.npr.org/2015/05/10/404672919/first-listen-faith-no-more-sol-invictus
Today's reason to be rock-back-and-forth-giggling-and-crying happy comes in the form of Faith No More's latest album Sol Invictus being available to stream a week ahead of its physical release. I've been fighting the urge to listen to badly-compressed leaked versions of the album and as such it feels like I'm literally the only FNM fan in the world who hadn't heard it until today. But by Christ it was worth the wait. Every molecule of doubt that it wouldn't be up to their previous standard was jettisoned the moment I heard the first chorus of the opening title track. It'll need a few hundred listens for me to get a proper sense of it as right now listening to it is more of an emotional experience (I have emotions! Who knew?) than anything else, but in the meantime why not join me and treat yourselves?
It feels a bit limp and embarrassing to bring up my own music on the heels of such excellence, but in anticipation of the digital release of my latest Struwwelpeter album The Birdcage I've put up another new song, one that's fairly representative of the strangely upbeat, folksy/poppy feel of the LP as a whole. I imagine if I played this to myself as a teenager he'd screw his fat face up in confusion.
http://player.piksel.com/player.php?video_uuid=q87z9lic&categoryId=70417
Also want to say thanks again to James of CineMe for having me on his show Short Cuts, talking animation, UWE, Bristol, Skwigly and my now-very-old short The Naughty List. The episode aired at the exact time last week's exit polls were causing the nation to collectively scream into a pillow so if you missed the broadcast you can watch it online here.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Addendum

Quickie update to amend the info in the last post, the episode of Short Cuts I'll be appearing on will now air this Thursday at 10pm, not tomorrow. All the channel info remains the same to the best of my knowledge. A few frames of The Naughty List also seems to have made it into the opening credits. Take a gander:

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Upcomings & Outgoings

I've made the somewhat douchey decision to self-set the release date of The Birdcage, my first LP in a good while, as the week of May 18th. I say 'douchey' because this is also the week both Faith No More's new album Sol Invictus and Clive Barker's Hellraiser swansong The Scarlet Gospels - two projects I've been hotly anticipating to say the least - both come out. There's no real connection, it just generally helps to have a deadline to work to when I'm in the last stretch of anything, plus I reckon my album's pretty much cooked at this point. I have to say I like how it's turned out - it's the quiet, folksy death rattle of a would-be-rocker-turned-production-music-scribe giving in to a secret, guilty urge to be melodic and quaint rather than edgy or avant garde. I expect I'll release it digitally on Bandcamp to begin with and then see what new options there now are for a physical release in the 4.5 years since my last LP.
http://throatbook.com
This will pave the way for another upcoming release, the final installment of my lingering graphic novel series Throat. I'm still finalising the bonus content but the proposed release date is August 3rd. As with Book 1 and Book 2 it should be available to buy in US retailers and on Amazon for the UK and elsewhere.
On the Skwigly pile this week, the Lightbox series I've been producing has resumed with a video interview from mine and Laura-Beth's encounter with the talented and dapper Luc Chamberland, whose OIAF-winning NFB documentary Seth's Dominion (an exploration of the life and work of Canadian comic artist Seth) is playing at Toronto's Hot Docs at the moment.
Also on the site I chat once again to auld acquaintances Seb and Joe from Rumpus, whose game The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle is now available on PC via Steam as well as it's original App Store release for iOS. This interview is the first in a series of Skwigly profiles on South West-based studios/artists in association with the South West Animation Network, an organisation put together by Becalelis Brodskis and Susannah Shaw. Keep an eye out for more Skwigly/SWANraderie and if you're a South Westerner yourself check them out at swanimationnetwork.co.uk
http://www.madeinbristol.tv/programme/short-cuts/
Bringing it back to my own ephemeral output, as is my egomaniacal wont, I'll be appearing on the TV show Short Cuts hosted by James Ewen of CineMe, who's been a much-appreciated supporter of my work in the past. I'm not sure what'll get included in the final edit but I expect the focus will be on my old seasonal short The Naughty List. It'll be broadcast on Made In Bristol (Freeview 8/Sky 117/Virgin Media 159) May 5th at 8:30pm, so tune in if your receivers are suitably receptive.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Box Trawls

Our Skwigly guest spot at the London Animation Club earlier this week was a massive success. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially to Martin again for having us, hopefully you all enjoyed it as much as we did! For those who weren't able to make it I got the impression some of it was filmed and I believe that will go up at some point down the line, so keep checking their website.
In the meantime I've uploaded a special Lightbox compilation video I edited together as part of our presentation. It's impossible to do a complete 'best-of' in 20 minutes but this I think gives an impression of the range and scope of our coverage, from emerging up-and-comers to established Oscar-winners.

The video features snippets our chats with Mikey Please, Dan Ojari, Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi, Bill Plympton, Torill Kove, Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson, Will Becher, Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed and Jeff Turley. Don't forget you can watch all of their interviews plus many more in full over at our official channel.
http://www.thisisnotacartoon.com/
For those of you based up North, I strongly urge you to check out This Is Not A Cartoon, a new Skwigly venture in association with the BFI Film Hub. The events have been programmed primarily by Jen Hall of Manchester's Cornerhouse/HOME, the first of which taking place April 24th at the Stoke-on-Trent Science Centre featuring a live Q&A with the aforementioned Ainslie Henderson, director of Monkey Love Experiments and I Am Tom Moody. For more info on the programme and upcoming events head over to the website.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Club Life

So both the chances of new Twin Peaks and Opie and Anthony ever getting back together have seemingly gone up in smoke over one Easter break. Good going, bunny-Jesus. If anything happens to The Scarlet Gospels or Sol Invictus before May I'll have pretty much no more cultural interests left.
Well, there's the old ball-and-chain of animation, I suppose. Although on some fronts things are without a paddle, so to speak, I recently had a nostalgic opportunity to revisit an old film for an interview that will hopefully surface late April/early May. Will post that when there are postables.
https://www.facebook.com/events/337977323063007/
Before then, however, those of you near and within ol' London town may wish to swing by The Green Man around 7:30pm this coming Tuesday (14th) for the London Animation Club, at which Skwigly - in the comely form of Aaron, Steve and myself - will be doing a special presentation on the past, present and future of our fine website, now in the third glorious year of its diabolical new regime. Many thanks to organiser Martin for extending the invite. Check out the Facebook event page for more info and I hope to see some of you dapper darlings there.

Friday, 3 April 2015

The World is Yours

I hope you're all geared up for a weekend of eggy chocolate Jesus zombie antics. I myself am rebuilding myself emotionally from an intense end-of-March deadline while cracking on with what's proving to be a rather therapeutic day-job. I don't think I can talk about it until it's done but I'll just say it involves lots of wavy lines that have proved to have quite a calming effect. Right this second I'm waiting on a bit of client feedback to come through so I'll take the opportunity to do a li'l update post.
http://www.skwigly.co.uk/melissa-johnson-robertino-zambrano/
I have two new interviews up on the site I hope you'll all enjoy. The first is with directorial duo Melissa Johnson and Robertino Zambrano who made Love in the Time of March Madness, one of my favourite films from last year. It's essentially a docu-memoir about Melissa's own romantic misadventures as a uniquely tall athlete, with Robertino putting together a host of truly impressive visual interpretations that really showcase how much more effective animation can be when it comes to communicating abstract concepts within non-fiction. Have a read here.
http://www.skwigly.co.uk/hertzfeldt-world-of-tomorrow/
Speaking of abstract concepts, Don Hertzfeldt released his new film this week. It's called World of Tomorrow and is more than worth the price of admission; You can stream it for a month for a paltry rental fee on Vimeo, and I can't recommend doing so enough. Like most of his recent work, such as the graphic novel The End of The World and his independent feature It's Such a Beautiful Day, it solicits a huge gamut of emotional response and, primarily, is goddamn hysterical. Gladly I also got an interview with Hertzfeldt himself, something I've been angling for really since day one. Good times indeed.
Also I've noticed that Shaun in the City, the arts project that will see a whole gaggle of oversized Shaun the Sheeps dotted about London (similar to the Gromit Unleashed project in Bristol a couple years back) is now in effect. So there's no harm in putting up some of my own submissions, all of which were sensibly rejected:
Counterclockwise from top-left: Shaun as a Blue Meanie, Shaun as Wallace, Shaun as an old-timey cartoon and Shaun that'd go great with a side of mint jelly
I can appreciate 'Blue Shaunie' may have been a bit thorny, rights-wise, and while I assume 'ShaunWallace' wouldn't have been as big an issue it's a bit on-the-nose (see, he's Shaun, but he's all coloured in and dressed like Wallace geddit? Teeheehoho etc). That being said I quite liked 'Rubberhose Shaun' on the bottom right and, my personal favourite, 'Mrs. Bleaton's Cookbook', top right. Like all truly great artists I'm sure the genius of them all will be more appreciated after I'm dead. It's a fine cause so check out the Shaun in the City site to find out more.
Completely changing the subject, this wonderful new item of vinyl Faith No More-ery is now in my possession:

It's been a month since the song debuted and I still can't fully convey in words how goddamn in love with it I am. It's worth mentioning that the vinyl version sounds better, and I don't mean that in that douchey way vinyl enthusiasts insist upon; It's actually a different, less 'produced' mix that feels more traditionally FNM to my ears. Adrian at newfaithnomore.com put up a little comparison analysis I made (which you can also listen to here).
Let it not be said that I don't give back to my community.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Northern Exposure

It's another busy period with little blogging time available; I'm currently hard at work cackhandedly educating today's youth working on some more science-ey films while alternately hard at work cackhandedly educating today's not-so-youthful youth putting Project Group Hug together, the next milestone deadline for which is the beginning of April. So between the two I'll be radio silent for the rest of the month.
In the meantime check out a video interview with NFB director Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre, whose film Jutra has, in the time since my original February article went up, gone on to win both a Canadian Screen Award as well as a Jutra Award, suitably enough.
 
On the subject of the NFB, I was able to catch up with Chris Landreth, director of the Oscar-winning Ryan, on his involvement as Mentoring Director of the most recent Hothouse apprenticeship programme which the Film Board have run since 2003. You can read more in our interview here as well as some insight into each of the scheme's participants: Esteban Azuela, Stephanie Braithwaite, Alex Boya, Alexandra Lemay, Frances Adair Mckenzie, Neal Moignard, Benjamín Mugica and Kathleen Weldon.
Chris is also the director of the Annecy Cristal-winning Subconscious Password, for which Steve interviewed him when we were at the festival back in 2013:
 
If you missed it at the time, you can hear the full interview in episode 15 of the Skwigly Podcast.