Monday, 25 July 2011

"Did Bugs just say 'slant-eyes'?"

The whimsical sleigh ride that is "The Naughty List"'s festival tour makes two further stops this coming September. The TriMedia Film Festival in Fort Collins CO, USA will be held between the 9th and the 11th, though they haven't yet posted the program so I'm not sure exactly when my film's playing.In Sydney it will be part of the Auburn International Film Festival for Children and Young Adults which tours the region from the 19th to the 23rd. It's nice to get some exposure at a festival aimed toward a younger audience, as this is my only 'family friendly' film to date I was sort of hoping it would get into more kids' festivals, which hasn't really turned out to be the case. Maybe if Santa had been wearing pants...On the subject of unsavoury animation, I've been transferring some old VHS tapes onto my hard drive and came across this pretty interesting documentary from 2000. It's called "Cartoons Kick Ass" and focuses on adult content in cartoons going all the way back to the dawn of animation, featuring contributions from Jerry Beck, Mike Judge, Paul Wells, John Kricfalusi and Ralph Bakshi to name a few. When it originally aired this was my introduction to stuff like the Censored Eleven, cartoons as a propaganda tool, antiquated racial stereotyping that modern society has 1984'd out of existence, submlinal/not-so-subliminal insertions of dirty jokes into animation and the alarmingly fatuous anti-animation agenda of conservative Christian groups. It aired on Channel 4 so it may get taken down but as it's A) really interesting, B) unavailable commercially to my knowledge, and C) impossible to find online (it isn't even on IMDB), do me a favour and don't be a fucking narc about it. Just enjoy it and pass it on.

Ending on a random note, I was playing American McGee's visually brilliant "Alice: Madness Returns" and spotted this piece of bizarrely coincidental set dressing which served as a pretty funny WTF moment. Not that it really warrants clarification, but mine's the one on the right :P

Friday, 15 July 2011

The continuing adventures of Papai Noel

Anima Mundi starts this weekend, and it's a thrill to say that "The Naughty List" will receive a whopping TEN screenings from then until the end of the month. It's shown as part of their International Panorama 2 section that will be screened at the following dates/times/venues:

Rio de Janeiro
July 15th - 5:30pm - Teatro 2 CCBB
July 16th - 2pm - Teatro 2 CCBB
July 17th - 3:30pm - Teatro 2 CCBB
July 19th - 5pm - Cinema Odeon BR
July 21st - 1pm - Centro Cultural Correious, Praça Animada
July 24th - 4:30pm - Cinema 2 CCBB

São Paulo
July 27th - 3pm - Livraria Cultura 1
July 29th - 9:30pm - Fund. Memorial da América Latina, Sala 3
July 30th - 10pm - Livraria Cultura 2
July 31st - 12noon - Fund. Memorial da América Latina, Sala 3

Coupled with the inclusion of my first animationey venture "House Guest" last year, the festival is making great strides in remedying my terror toward the nation of Brazil that those "Elite Squad" movies instilled in me. For info on all the other events and screenings on offer check out the festival website.Next month the film will be screening in competition at the Monterrey International Film Festival in Mexico. As with Anima Mundi it's another event that had the good manners to show "House Guest" a couple years back, and as such is automatically in my good graces.There's another Skwigly piece of mine up today, this one a review of the recent Allen Ginsberg biopic - and graphic novel tie-in - "Howl". My interest in it is mainly as an admirer of Eric Drooker, who was the animation designer and did a pretty impressive job visualising Ginsberg's work. Drooker's major graphic novels "Flood" and "Blood Song" are two of my favourites, and his long-standing association with the late Ginsberg makes him an ideal choice for the film's animated portions. Plus the number of film reviews that dismissively referred to the film's 'cartoon parts' were starting to bug me, so I wanted show it some respect in that regard. You can read it here:
"Howl" Film & Graphic Novel Review by Ben Mitchell

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Spiffing, Strolling and Skwiglying

After a bit of a hiatus, Skwigly is up and running again with a batch of new features to read on their site. These include the piece I did on "Tales of the Spiffing", the Aardman collaborative graphic novel project I referred to awhile back, wherein a bunch of the book's contributors share their thoughts on how it came together, using sequential art as a storytelling medium and how their skills translate from working in animation. Some interesting insights from some very talented artists, so read, buy, share and repeat!
CARTOON NATION: A chat with the talents behind "TALES OF THE SPIFFING"

Another interview I did is with Grant Orchard, director at Studio AKA and known for his viral shorts such as "Park Foot Ball" and "Paintballing". AKA are probably best known at the moment for their massive Lloyds TSB campaign, the staccato-hummed music of which has been driving the nation mildly insane (they look very pretty though). Other projects include Philip Hunt's spectacularly successful adaptation of Oliver Jeffers's "Lost and Found".Grant's new film "A Morning Stroll" seems destined to fit in with their impressive body of work and is already kicking the festival circuit's ass; in less than a month out there it's picked up awards at nearly every festival it's been screened at. Nice feller too, so give it a read and check out the film when it plays near you:
Studio AKA's Grant Orchard on "A Morning Stroll"

As well as everyone who took the time to be interviewed, special thanks to Ashley Boddy and JP Vine for their help with the "Spiffing" piece, as well as Ren Pesci from Studio AKA who, as well as helping setup the interview, has the greatest name in existence.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Geeking Out

The other day, in anticipation of my landlord's annual visit, I decided to tidy up the apartment and at one point found myself dusting my cenobites. That's not a euphemism for anything, rather a declaration of my utter geekdom. Observe:This is who I am - a man painfully close to 30 who not only keeps toys, but displays them and keeps them clean. A man who buys vinyl records just because they're great big versions of albums I already own and like. A man who has developed legitimate objectophilia toward his Wacom Cintiq. A man who, in the past fortnight, has watched every episode of "Dinosaurs" on DVD. And a man who, yesterday, went all the way to London to be photographed with some cult celebrities. In much the same way as an infant gets their picture taken with Santa Claus at the mall. The experience really makes me think more people should embrace the geek within, because oftentimes it can be a fucking blast.
The event in question was the London Film & Comic Con, which I visited as part of my 'research-into-marketing-my-own-books-but-really-just-an-excuse-to-geek-the-fuck-out' endeavours. Lots of people I'm into were there so it made for a pretty awesome trip.First off there was Doug Bradley, who I've actually met before but as I've shed 100+lbs since then I wanted to get a better pic. Doug is mainly known as Pinhead (the leader of those toys I was dusting up there) from the "Hellraiser" movies. I'm actually not a big horror fan but I always liked Pinhead - he just struck me as classy, kind of like the Frasier Crane of movie monsters.Then the face of my fondest childhood movie memories, Christopher Lloyd, which I think even the most adamant non-geek would struggle to turn down an opportunity to meet. Between Doc Brown, Professor Plum, Uncle Fester and Judge Doom he's already one of my favourite character actors in the world, plus "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" are two of my favourite films as an adult, and he was fantastic in both of those.Also signing was Lea Thompson, Marty McFly's horny mom from "Back To The Future" and "Caroline In The City", a show I probably shouldn't admit to being familiar with. The beautiful older woman/redhead combo made it pretty tough to not ask her out; I was at the precipice of saying she was 'my density' but good sense (and a fear of being ejected by security personnel dressed as storm troopers) prevailed.The crème de la wotsit had to be, without a shadow of a doubt, author/artist/director Clive Barker, a man who I'm literally somewhat in love with. He's not a presence in animation as such (though he's been at the helm of some fantastic video games and graphic novels) - as a storyteller though he's 90% responsible for why I do what I do...far less competently than him, admittedly. But as a creative force he has been a tremendous influence and I probably would never have pursued the career I'm in now were it not for him. He's come up from time to time on this blog, but one day soon I'll write up a proper asskissey post.
As well as being incredibly gracious and funny, he spent the day signing autographs with an injured hand which was, frankly, above and beyond the call. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes to avoid being disappointed. Whoever 'they' are should have been a Clive Barker fan, because now I've met him in person I admire him twice as much.Ashley Laurence (also of "Hellraiser") was there too and as well as helping to fill in my DVD cover o' autographs she could be one of the nicest women alive. Granted, that's based on an accumulative five minutes of interaction but I'm a fantastic judge of character (as my adorable new pen-pal Casey Anthony would agree).
So I'm flying pretty high right now. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the amazing Negshin who was exhibiting and got me passed the queues so as not to miss my photo shoots. Without her the day would've been thrown completely out of whack and more or less ruined, so she's pretty much my favourite person in the world today. Go to her site and buy some prints, why don'cha? Or check out this film she co-wrote and give it some love:

Thursday, 7 July 2011


More fest news, "The Naughty List" will be part of another touring (or rather, cruising) festival from September 24th to October 3rd. The KROK International Animated Films Festival takes place on the Princess Dnipra which will be traveling through the Ukraine, stopping off at Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Sevastopol and Odessa. So, if you fancy some swashbuckling adventure (I'm sure river cruisers give you the option to swashbuckle), check it out.
Speaking of Eastern Europe, I found out recently that the woman who sold me my Wacom Cintiq is an Estonia-based model and artist who, by insane coincidence, is the face of David Thorne's hysterical 27b/6 website/book. Well, it's a coincidence because I recently became a huge fan of the website. If you're not familiar with Thorne, he's an Australian designer who, either from boredom or a career that has beaten him down to breaking point, publishes his email correspondence with a succession of recipients whose grasp of reality and humour is alarmingly literal. He cultivates a consummate douchebag persona although you always find yourself rooting for him. Anyway, it's a great go-to site for when I'm feeling all procrastinatey. And 'Tabitha' is a pretty talented artworker as well, so give her work a look.
Okay, I haven't talked about me for several sentences and frankly it's making my skin start to itch.I have two mini-edits of my films "Ground Running" and "The Naughty List" online at Virgin Media Shorts, one of those online short film competition thingies. They aren't in the running or anything, right now they're just two of about three-thousand that are presently viewable online. I'm usually a little loathe to put entire films up but as these versions are exclusive edits to accommodate the unusual 2'20" cutoff time I'm less precious about it. In both cases the stories (such as they are) are still pretty much the same. Some of the humour/timing doesn't play as well but given the concession I think they still work overall. Anyways, if you like you can give them a watch or several hundred. And share them with everyone you know - it doesn't affect whether or not they get shortlisted so I can't really be accused of trying to skew the judging in my favour.