Thursday, 26 November 2020

Consume!


You know the holiday season is nearly upon us when I won't shut up about my book being on sale. If anyone out there reading this hasn't picked it up yet and is mighty sore that they missed out on some of the recent deals earlier in the month then stop your whining and instead rejoice that both the paperback and eBook editions of Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films will be available at a glorious 30% off throughout this entire Black Friday weekend! That's if you pick it up directly from the publisher which, considering they throw in free shipping, seems like a damn good option to me.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Setbacks and Advances

Following up on the last post, over in Montreal it looks like cinemas will be closed until January 11th at the earliest, so next week's Sommets du Cinéma d'Animation will be going all-digital and postponing any physical screenings until the spring, however the online events won't extend to the short films screenings so I guess they're in limbo for now. Ah well, spreads things out a bit at least. Fingers crossed it won't be too long into the new year when things ease up, in the interim however there has been some talk about my specific section getting some kind of parallel online exhibition so if that's still going ahead I'll post an update.

There's a similar situation playing out in Hungary, where the Anilogue International Animation Festival is kicking off today in online form. Having included Klementhro in their 14th edition they've had the good manners to throw in Speed for their 18th, although the programme specifics have been shrouded in mystery until today. Needless to say the Extremely Short Animated Films section that my film is part of won't actually be taking place until their rescheduled physical edition in May, so watch this space for info on when that comes together.

An outing for Speed that will actually be going ahead as planned (unless I've just jinxed it) is its inclusion in the comedy shorts film festival Short Com from November 30th! The event will be held virtually until December 6th via XerbTV with Speed part of the official selection. This one's geolocked to the UK but there's a tentative plan for some international screenings down the line. Worth mentioning that profits from these events will be donated to The Refugee Council, if you fancy checking them out tickets are available here.

One last update for now is that the Official Selection for the 2020 Palm Springs International Animation Festival & Expo is now online with Speed part of the Animated Comedy Shorts section. This one will be running from December 22nd through to January 2nd and will take the form of an online edition as well as a series of drive-in screenings, which is a nifty solution. Don't know much else about it just yet but keep your eyes on their Facebook for updates as they come.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Proper Northern

The latest official selection announcement for Speed is the top-notch Sommets du Cinéma d'Animation over in Montreal, which takes place December 1st through to the 6th. Obviously it burns my ass to not be able to attend in person, especially given it's where a lot of my favourite people in the world live, but I was privileged to be a guest of the festival in a Skwigly capacity back in 2013 and had an absolute blast so it's wonderful to finally be involved as a filmmaker under any circumstances.
Speed plays in the International Competition of Very Short Films on December 5th at 5pm among a stellar lineup. Check out their website and socials for full schedule and ticket info as it comes. Merci, mes amis!

In the meantime, this year's Manchester Animation Festival has officially kicked off and you'd be, if you'll pardon my language, a darn ninny if you missed out on it. Some personal recommendations include the Short Films Panorama including Laura-Beth Cowley's film The Gift, the MAFter Dark live watch-party featuring Speed, Marie-Ève Lacelle's ToonBoom Harmony masterclass plus a chance to catch the new Cartoon Saloon film Wolfwalkers as well as a Snowden-Fine retrospective and Q&A. Also this year's Skwigly Quiz is looking to be a fun one - alas it's sold out at this point but for those of you who managed to nab a ticket in time we've cooked up some fun stuff for our first online version so hopefully you'll get a kick out of it. There are still plenty of other events available so be sure to check out their full schedule and lineup here.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Old friends

A couple of familiar festivals on the horizon for Speed. From November 11th through to December 13th the digital edition of the magnificent Interfilm Berlin will be taking place and I'm grateful to be among the line-up of their special programme Eject _XXIII - The Long Night of Weird Shorts. I guess I'm nothing if not consistent as Klementhro screened as part of Eject XVIII five years ago - always nice to be back amongst my fellow weirdos. The programme will be available to stream from November 23rd-29th via the Sooner platform - from the 11th you can grab your tickets here


Another event I'm pretty stoked about is Estonia's PÖFF Shorts, the sub-festival of the prestigious Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Way back in 2009 PÖFF was one of the first events to give my student film House Guest some indecent exposure and I've not managed to weasel my way back into any of their line-ups since, so this is a li'l nugget o' gratification. This one runs from November 17th through to the 25th and will be an online/physical hybrid event. Speed is part of the shorts programme Late Night Love that has two near-simultaneous screenings on November 25th - 7:45pm (in Hall 7 of Tallinn's Coca-Cola Plaza) and 8pm at Tartu's Athena Center. If you're not feeling it yet when it comes to physical screenings you can find info on how the online viewing works here.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Humbleswag


Hola m'lovelies. Hope you're all staying safe and sane as we slide into another month of nationally-regulated hermitude. Now would be as good a time as any to stock up on some fine animation literature and, thanks to the modern miracle of targeted marketing, I've just gotten wind that my book Independent Animation: Directing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films is part of a Mastering Animation collection curated by the fine folks at CRC Press. The collection is available via Humble Bundle and, from what I gather, is a tiered bundle where you pay in increments to unlock a range of titles in eBook format, so the more you pay the more you get access to. I don't know much more other than that and frankly have no idea if the arrangement does or doesn't benefit me in any particular way, but as the only complaint I ever hear about the book is its price tag I'm always keen to spread the word if there are more cost-effective ways for folks to get their mitts on it. Also some of the profits will go to the Hero Initiative which is a pretty decent cause.

It's a pay-what-you-like system but the site has a breakdown of what you get for your cash, what I do know is that if you go with the highest tier you get 23 books that would cost you a pretty massive wedge if you bought them all individually. Among the other books in the collection my main recommendations (some of which I've reviewed already) include Bill Plympton's Make Toons That Sell (Without Selling Out), Floyd Norman's Animated Life, Adam Phillips's Animate To Harmony as well as Tony Bancroft's Directing For Animation, Hane Bacher's Dream Worlds and Acting and Performance for Animation, an essential text on character animation by Derek Hayes and my old UWE mentor Chris Webster. 

You have about eighteen days from today to snap 'em up, if it grabs ya then you can find more info here.


If you'd still prefer the satisfying weight, girth and aroma of a physical book then the paperback edition of Independent Animation is also presently available at a reduced price as part of Routledge/CRC's current sale that goes until November 15th. As is often the case with their sale offers you get 20% off if you buy it on its own and 25% off for two or more books. Holiday season's just around the corner, don'cha know...

Friday, 23 October 2020

“To beginnings…and endings. And the wisdom to know the difference.”


Something of a Skwigly milestone this week with the release of our landmark 100th episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast.

Fittingly enough it's a guest roster of heavy-hitters as we welcome back Tomm Moore and meet Ross Stewart of Cartoon Saloon, directors of the stunning new feature film Wolfwalkers that is released in cinemas from October 26th and will be available on Apple TV+ from December 11th. I was lucky enough to get snuck in to a screening of this one at the BFI London Film Festival a couple weeks back and it's absolutely gorgeous, so be sure to give it some love.

We also welcome back previous podcast guest and Oscar-winner Glen Keane to discuss his new CG feature Over the Moon, released today on Netflix, as well as Vanessa Harryhausen, daughter of the legendary Ray Harryhausen and author of the new book Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema that  accompanies the exhibition of the same name.

Also discussed in this episode: The evolution of digital film festivals from our various perspectives as programmers, attendees and filmmakers, upcoming highlights from Manchester Animation Festival and Cardiff Animation Festival, the arbitrary furore of Disney’s updated content warnings and the site-breaking popularity of Vivziepop – plus we read out messages from the Skwigly audience, having desperately solicited approval.

Direct download here or stream the episode below:

Producing and hosting this series alongside our various other podcast strands (if you add them all up the full tally is 190 episodes) has been an enormously gratifying ongoing project over the years, one that has not only granted me time with some of my biggest personal inspirations but also forged strong relationships with some of the animation industry's most important organisations and events. 

Aaaaaand migraine.

In an ideal world it would go on forever but the inconvenient reality is that the kind of free time I had available back when it started over eight years ago just isn't there anymore, and as it's never been a source of direct income it will have to proceed sporadically, if at all. In truth that's already been the case this past year and nobody's complained, and I have no desire to hang it up outright so I'm just going to roll with the punches. Tentative plan is to have it be a seasonal thing but you never know what circumstances will dictate, especially these days. In the meantime if you have a few pennies you'd be happy to throw our way you can support the site here. But if you don't we still like ya anyways.

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.