Monday, 16 April 2018

Another limp offering

https://open.spotify.com/album/1RSWntpoDLnNeSm5MVtTXO
The migration of my old tunes to Spotify and other various platforms continues this month with another EP, this time the 2016 Silverfish release Limp and Numb.
For those who missed the original release, this one's a mix of remastered songs from around 2007 with a couple of exclusive tracks thrown in. It's a mix of me being loud/daft and quiet/creepy, something to start off your week on a confusing note with. If nothing else it's nice and short!
Stream below or alternatively check it out on iTunes/Apple Music.

Friday, 13 April 2018

If they call you 'butt' over there it means they like you, I recently learned

https://twitter.com/CardiffAnimFest/status/984763347504594944
It's Friday! We made it to the end of another week! Go us!
That means there's now a mere six days to go before Cardiff Animation Festival kicks off and I'm very excited to be heading over there alongside Skwigly brethren and animationey pals alike.
There's a packed schedule of amazing events from Thursday 19th through to Sunday 22nd and while it's worth taking the time to peruse the full programme here are a couple I'm involved with:
As part of the Industry Day on the 19th I'll be on the 2pm panel Getting To Market with Helen Brunsdon, Adam Bailey and Huw Walters where we'll be discussing "the fine art of promoting and selling your work, from TV ideas to short films, at markets around the world". You can pick up an Industry Day pass here if you've not done so already.
Kim Keukeleire
On Saturday 21st I'll be chairing the Q&A session Making Isle of Dogs at 8:45pm, which will directly follow a 6:30pm screening of the film itself. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the crafting of the exceptional new Wes Anderson film from artists Joshua Flynn (puppetmaker), Kim Keukeleire (lead animator) and Kerry Dyer (puppet repairs), so you won't want to miss it.
I'll also be speaking with some of the attending filmmakers in competition for the Animator's Brunch Q&A sessions that will take place on the 21st and 22nd at 10:30am. Not only will you be able to meet/grill these splendid folks but you'll get to do so with coffee and croissants to hand - plus both sessions are free to attend, so treat yisselfs!
http://www.cardiffanimation.com/caf18-a-night-with-the-trampires
Other festival highlights you'll want to check out include a festival-long exhibition and Friday night special presentation for Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, the spectacular stop-mo feature I contributed some VFX bits to last summer, as well as a talk by all-around top bloke Grant "Hey Duggee" Orchard, a writing for animation panel, the official launch of Anim18, life drawing, a Bring Your Own Animation session (at which I may attempt a sneaky preview of my latest film Sunscapades), screenings and Q&As for recent features Early Man and The Breadwinner - not to mention a heap of parties and networking events you can get sauced at. Then there's the official selection itself, which as a member of the jury I can assuredly say is packed full of absolutely top-shelf work. Say hello* if you're there!
*Not an obligation. In fact an across-the-room-half-nod is already above and beyond.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Updateables

The fine folks at CRC Press are having themselves a sale so, should you be so inclined, you can pick up my book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films at 20% off! Well that's surely better than a kick in the pants. In fact if you buy two or more CRC Press books you get 25% off, so go ahead and have yourselves a little browse. Here's one I recommend. And another. And another. And another.
http://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/The-Adventures-of-Bertram-Fiddle-Episode-1-A-Dreadly-Business-1356997.html
Also, having previously mentioned that the first Bertram Fiddle game A Dreadly Business was coming to Nintendo Switch, I can cheerily confirm it's available now on the console's official store for a measly fivepoundce. Get fiddlin'!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Onward and Upward

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/424910595-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-79.mp3
Our latest podcast is a little more heavygoing than most, what with there being a certain big, creepy, Canadian elephant in the room. It's probably been hard to miss the aftermath of Ariane Lange, Katie Rice and Robyn Byrd's speaking out against John Kricfalusi, and while a fair few folks have been asking me about my thoughts on the matter, Ren and Stimpy enthusiast that I've been over the decades, I haven't had a whole lot to add to the discussion that doesn't merely echo the same mix of disappointment and sadness that so many others in the animation community are feeling. That being said, this podcast has grown over the years into a platform to spread awareness about key issues that we hope said community can rely on as well as being, as Steve puts it, "therapy for the both of us", so for those who are curious about where we stand it's pretty much all in there. Even more stuff has come out since the episode was recorded, so I have a feeling this saga is far from over.
To lighten the mood some we were able to include Steve's excellent recent chat with Simon Tofield, creator of the indie-animation-turned-merchandisable-behemoth Simon’s Cat, recorded during last month's tenth anniversary celebrations. We also give YouTube's ‘Copyright School’ a deserved smashing and go through some upcoming Cardiff Animation Festival highlights. As always you can direct download or stream below:

Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter Mundi

http://rio2c.com/entretenimento
Another update from the Lendas Animadas camp - one of my episodes Como Surgiram as Estrelas will be featured as part of a special series of programmes taking place at the Rio Creative Conference this weekend. Put together with the lovely folks at Anima Mundi (where this episode screened in competition last year and was picked as one of the 10 best Brazilian films of that edition) the screening kicks off 11am on April 7th at the Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Multiplied Objects

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/419988020-skwigly-independent-animation-03-david-oreilly.mp3
In the third episode of Independent Animation, the companion podcast series to my book I meet David OReilly who, in the past decade, has amassed a significant fanbase through the international success of his independently-produced auteur animation projects.
While in the UK to present a retrospective and lecture at the London International Animation Festival, David and I found some time to discuss the atypical path of his career that, alongside commercial work for Spike Jonze, Adult Swim and Adventure Time, has seen him build an international following through his multi-award-winning independent projects RGB XYZ, Octocat Adventures, Please Say Something, The External World, 109645790437692847650 and, more recently, the abstract gaming experiences Mountain (2014) and Everything (2017).
In this interview David elaborates on the circumstances of his most career-defining projects as well as the nature of success, managing expectations and staying grounded while being true to one’s work and artistic direction.
Stream the episode below or direct download:

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Kid Friendly

http://kidfilmfestival.hu
Happy news for Spring - I've been informed that Laura-Beth and I will once again have our work screened at the same festival, this time in Hungary for Cinemira - Budapest International Children's Film Festival which takes place April 6th-8th. Both films will screening in the Ages 10+ Section II programme that takes place 12pm on Sunday 8th at the Akvárium Klub. If you fancy swinging by you can grab yourself tickets here.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Old Chestnuts

Happy Monday all!
A few oldies that I worked on have recently resurfaced. Firstly the latest of my old discography to finally make its way to Spotify, iTunes et al is the 2010 EP Digital Stimulation.
This one originally came out in the run up to the LP The Book of Women that would be released at the end of the same year and features six exclusive alternate mixes/edits of songs from that album as well as its 2006 predecessor Agnosticaust (which will hopefully get itself a full reissue soon). Check 'er out:
On the animation side of things I saw that a collection of highlights from Jonti Picking (aka Weebl) and Sarah Darling's webseries Wobble Box went up over the weekend, with a couple of the segments I animated thrown in. So that's something to keep your company on your lunch break:
More good news is that Rumpus Animation's first step into the world of video game adventuring The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle - for which I provided the voices of That Guy Who Sounds Like Ben Mitchell and That Other Guy Who Sounds Like Ben Mitchell But A Bit Nasally among others - will be getting itself a Japanese release on the Nintendo Switch on March 29th, so fingers crossed for a wider release in the not-too-distant. You can learn more about this version here and there's a slightly more Nintendo-ey version of the trailer you can watch below:

Monday, 12 March 2018

Polarisation

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/412425954-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-78.mp3
Our podcast continues this week with a pair of fantastic special guests - speaking with Laura-Beth are director Paloma Baeza and producer Ser En Low who just won the National Film and Television School its fifth consecutive BAFTA win (not to mention picking up a McLaren and Annie Award among others) for Best Short Animation with their film Poles Apart. Give 'er a download or a listen below:
It's a brilliant, Wes Anderson-esque stop-motion film about the friendly/tense relationship between a polar bear and a grizzly that really stood out among last year's NFTS crop so it's great to see it continue to do so well.
These podcasts are always more fun to do when our blood is a little stirred up, so thanks to another disappointing Oscars year for helping us out on that front.
http://www.britishanimationawards.com/
On another note, just a reminder that later on this week the British Animation Awards, will return to London tahn on the 15th. I was once again part of the jury although I won't be able to be in the city for the awards themselves, but it should be a fun one. Well, as fun as anything can be in my absence. Soldier on, my brave little soldiers.
If you haven't yet got tickets it's probably a little close to the wire at this point, but you might get a place on the waiting list if you shoot them an email via their official site.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women, they're absolutely everywhere

https://www.facebook.com/lendas.animadas
I just received some good news regarding Lendas Animadas, the Brazilian pre-school series I worked on a little while ago - one of the episodes I animated just picked up the Audience Award for Best Children's Short at the FESTin Portuguese Film Festival in Lisbon. Turns out the kids are alright.
On top of this the series is also a finalist for the 28th Prix Jeunesse International festival and competition which will take place in Munich from May 25th-30th.
Congrats and kudos to the team, most of all to Art Director Adriana Meirelles who was my immediate supervisor on the series and did an amazing job in keeping me on track, especially considering I don't speak any Portuguese.
Speaking of amazing women in animation, if you head on over to Skwigly's Twitter feed I've been corralling some coverage from the past year in honour of International Women's Day. There are some fantastic articles and insights - not to mention films - worth checking out there if you missed them the first time around.
While we're on the subject here's a rundown of the industry's inspiring female talents I've had the pleasure of personally interviewing since my days at the magazine began:

To be perfectly honest it should be a longer list, though I have some personal goals toward the gender parity of our coverage in the years to come that should hopefully amend that.
As for the present, the latest addition to our interviews section is the splendid Julie Roy who I had the pleasure of interviewing at last year's Annecy festival. This week saw her win her second Canadian Screen Award as a National Film Board of Canada producer (her main role is Executive Producer of the NFB's French Animation Studio). The winning film, directed by Matthew Rankin (an interview with whom went up a few months' back), is The Tesla World Light, which documents a troubled period of the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla’s life through a combination of exquisitely performed pixilation and experimental filmmaking techniques. Julie's producer filmography also includes some absolute crackers such as Paula (Dir. Dominic Étienne Simard), Kali, the Little Vampire (Dir. Regina Pessoa), In Deep Waters (Dir. Sarah van den Boom), Pilots on the Way Home (Dir. Priit and Olga Pärn), Inspector Street (Dir. Emmanuelle Loslier) and The Head Vanishes (Dir. Franck Dion) among others, so it was a real privilege to get to learn about her career path and process, as well as some insight into how the NFB approach the marketing and distribution of their films once they're done.
One last thing that, again, involves some super brilliant animation ladies, chiefly Lauren Orme, Dani Abram et al who have been working like mad on the first edition of the revived Cardiff Animation Festival. Having curated and hosted the animation strand of the Cardiff Independent Film Festival for a few years, as well as the city's regular meet-up Cardiff Animation Nights, the team have outdone themselves with an amazingly high-quality inaugural official selection for this year's event. I'll be involved in the festival in various capacities that I'll elaborate on when they've all been cemented but until then be sure to to get your hands on festival passes so you won't miss a thing.
That's it for today, I'll leave you with this new piece by Anna Ginsburg that I had nothing to do with but absolutely love:

Friday, 2 March 2018

Russian About

https://multfest.ru/film.php?id=3548&group=1146&fest=56&prog=600
No Sunscapades news to report, but our paddle-dependent lad Klementhro is still making desperate, needy bids for attention before he gets shunted aside. Over the next few weeks the film will be part of a touring programme spun off from last year's edition of Russia's Big Cartoon Festival for which it was officially selected. Traveling outside of Moscow this time, Klementhro - or Климентро, or Climentro, as I guess the word I made up translates to - will screen alongside a couple of personal favourites such as Love (Réka Bucsi) and Negative Space (Tiny Inventions) this Saturday, March 3rd, 8:40pm at the Spartak cinema in Voronezh.
Later in the month the programme will take place in Nizhny Novgorod at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts and Krasnoyarsk at the House of Cinema around the same time (March 23rd-April 1st). Head on over to the festival's official site and Facebook page for more specific event info. Other screenings that will be featured in the tour also include tremendous recent work by Niki Lindroth Von Bahr (The Burden), Britt Raes (Catherine), Nicolas Ménard (Wednesday With Goddard), Sean Buckelew (Lovestreams), Chintis Lundgren (Life with Herman H. Rott), Diane Obomsawin (I Like Girls), Anna Ginsburg (Material World),  as well as some modern classics from Kirsten Lepore (Bottle) and Tim Reckart (Head Over Heels). So if you're in the area be sure to check it out, 'cause if you miss out on a line-up like that then, frankly, you don't deserve nice things.
Not to be aggressive about it.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Snowed In

Evenin' all!
So from what I gather the entire country has ground to a halt due to the onslaught of what may turn out to be literally centimeters of snow. Crikey, let's just do our best to keep it together, gang.
As a Canadian who has known the joy of icicles on my eyeballs I find it quite adorbs (but, y'know, stay safe on the roads and all). Hopefully you're all bundled up somewhere warm with someone you enjoy being warmly bundled up with. While you're a-bundlin' you can take a look at the new 1080p HD version of my 2010 film The Naughty List.
This was on my to-do list for a little while (the most highly-defined it's been in the past is 720p) so what with today being a snow-day I figured I may as well knock it on the head. With nearly eight years' distance between then and now all I can see is the high-definition of some extremely questionable line-work. That being said, there are some moments in it I'm still proud of.
Also worth mentioning that today is World Book Day, so why not bow to the pressure of the arbitrary assignment of a time of year to the concept of literature by picking up one of those delightful tomes you can see to the right of the page. You have to switch to web mode if you're reading this on your phone to know what I'm talking about.
I know, it's a lot of work. Fine, forget I brought it up.
You people.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Updates From Limbo

The evenings have been busy in the days since Sunscapades officially wrapped while I attempt to hammer out a plan of action as far as getting it out in the world. It's a slow-process and it'll be weeks or even months before I have anything to report on that front but watch this space for whatever I can come up with in the interim. Probably some teaser clips at the very least.
Meanwhile I'm happy to say that Klementhro will get a rare screening in his town of origin, that being here in rainy ol' Bristol. The film will be playing as part of the first CineMe screening in a few years, taking place at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer at 8pm this coming Tuesday (27th). It's great to be involved as, under its original management, I had a very clement relationship with CineMe who included my work at a bunch of local events, featured a segment on myself/The Naughty List on their associated TV series Short Cuts and collaborated with Laura-Beth and I on our Love, Lust and Libido screening that served as something of a precursor to our current Intimate Animation podcast. Fittingly Laura-Beth's own film Boris-Noris will also be screened on Tuesday, as well as Blanked, a film from her Weird Eye companions Fiona and Hannah (both of whom helped invaluably with Sunscapades, as it happens).
Not much else to report, save for episode 77 of the ol' Skwigly Podcast that went up a couple days ago. If you didn't hear it yet then give yourselves a little treat - it's a quick one but it features the rather smashing (and Oscar-nominated, to boot) Glen Keane making a welcome return:

Monday, 5 February 2018

Ben and Women

https://open.spotify.com/album/4CkXQhto9Cssps9InwkFqa
Continuing the migration of my musical back catalogue to some of these modern distribution channels - what with me being so hip and down with the youth and all - February's re-release is my 2010 album The Book of Women.
This one was originally put out when my attentions were mostly focused on The Naughty List and, in a limbo between the eras of MySpace and Bandcamp, didn't really get much momentum compared to the albums that came before and after. It was a lot of fun to do, however, and has a lot of great musician pals of mine guesting on it, not to mention fond memories associated with it. So if you're in the mood check 'er out for free on Spotify (you can stream below) or grab it for keepsies on iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon, Bandcamp or even on compact disc if you like your unfashionably retro music formats. The CD has the added bonus of featuring a photo of me on the back looking like a bell-end if that's an incentive at all.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

That Gumball you like is going to come back in style

Here's an interview I've been sitting on for ages that I hope you all get a kick out of. As part of 2017's Annecy coverage I got to meet three folks who've been on my interview wish-list for a good long while now: Creative duo Becky & Joe (who created the brilliant, Rainbow-meets-Requiem For A Dream horror series Don't Hug Me I'm Scared to tremendous viral success) recently brought their penchant for puppetry to The Amazing World of Gumball's season 5 episode The Puppets, and MANOMAN director Simon Cartwright of Cartwright Gantz who directed the accompanying webseries Waiting For Gumball (Simon previously appeared on episode 32 of the podcast).
Also at this junket were James Stevenson Bretton and Tom Stuart of Blink Industries as well as Ben Bocquelet (marking his second Lightbox appearance) and Mic Graves, Gumball's series creator and director respectively.
I'm still a little in the dark as to whether or not The Puppets and Waiting For Gumball were released/broadcast here in the UK, but they definitely came out in the States a few months' back. Either way they're great fun and it was a treat to chat with everyone involved. If you dig it you might want to check out the other interviews from this particular junket - with Simon Landrein (guest artist) and Ben Locket (composer).

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The 'Cast Continues

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/388381550-skwigly-skwigly-podcast-76.mp3
For episode 76 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast I was thrilled to speak with Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey, director of the animated feature film adaptation of Deborah Ellis’s The Breadwinner that just got itself an Oscar nomination.
Fulfilling a variety of key roles at the studio, Nora’s has served as Creative Director on projects such as preschool series Puffin Rock, as well as co-directing the 2009 feature The Secret of Kells alongside co-founder Tomm Moore, directing the short films From Darkness (2002) and Cúilín Dualach (2004) and serving as Head of Story on Song Of The Sea (2014).
Having received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, The Breadwinner has gone on to receive a Golden Globe nomination and multiple nominations for the Annie Awards and the Canadian Screen Awards, winning Best Animation at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards and Leeds International Film Festival.
Also discussed in this episode: A look at the other animated Academy Award contenders, BAFTA nominations and early impressions of Aardman's Early Man,  Stream this episode below or direct download:

Monday, 15 January 2018

Kickey Muck

https://www.thenewcurrent.co.uk/benmitchell-klementhro
As part of their coverage of this year's edition of British Shorts in Berlin (which had the good manners to screen Klementhro on Friday), the fine folks at indie film mag The New Current interviewed me about it. Have a read here for some wafflings about making indie animated films, managing Skwigly and putting together my book.
Elsewhere the new Bertram Fiddle game A Bleaker Predicklement (from pals Rumpus Animation and featuring yours truly attempting a variety of dubious regional accent) has this week expanded its release to include Android, so get downloadin' for Pete's sake!
You'll marvel at Blacksmith and Little Wacksmith's geographically inexplicable voice characterisations
If you want to get caught up then throughout this week you'll be able to get yourself a copy of the first game A Dreadly Business - one of the major case studies of aforementioned book, don'cha know - for free! If that doesn't kick Blue Monday up its blue arse I don't know what will.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Ich bin ein Berlin-type guy

http://www.britishshorts.de/programmEN.html?id=1157852577126700000
I'm pleasantly surprised to say that, as Sunscapades nears its finish line (for real this time), my previous film Klementhro still has a bit of life in it yet. This coming Friday (12th) it will get its first (and possibly last/only) 2018 screening in Berlin at the 11th Lichtspielklub Short Film Festival (AKA British Shorts), a fantastic-looking event I'm disappointed to not be able to attend in person. The screening will take place at the Sputnik Kino at 7:30pm, click here for more info on what else is playing. Having a skim of the programme it looks like there are some belters representing the animation side of things, including recent work by Robert Morgan, Joseph Wallace, Liam Harris, Sara Barbas and Will Anderson among others, so give it some love if you're in the city.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Reel Gone

It's been a good long while but I've given the ol' showreel a bit of an update:
Hopefully over the course of this year I'll be able to do a complete revamp with footage from some of the recent projects I've worked on that I'm not allowed to share just yet. In the meantime this one is structured in much the same way as it's been for the last few years with the addition of some first looks at several scenes from Sunscapades and a couple snippets from stuff like Klementhro and Lendas Animadas.
Hope it entertains for a minute and a bit. If it moves you to hire me that'd be even better. I brighten any workplace with my puckish-yet-unobtrusive bon mots and have been told I make a tolerable cuppa.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

If you have 48 minutes to kill

https://open.spotify.com/album/4FCECZYmFFHJYl5ReoyECl
Happy new year, ya filthy animals.
Alongside the usual animationey chunks I'll be expectorating into the world over the coming months I'm keen to have 2018 be a year for some new - or, at the very least, unheard - music of mine. Rather than get ahead of myself and outline what I have planned - because whenever I do that on here it pretty much guarantees it won't pan out (remember when Sunscapades was supposedly going to be done by last May?) - I'm first going to tackle the long-overdue expanded digital release of some old albums.
Kicking things off I'm happy to say the fifth Struwwelpeter album The Birdcage, originally released May 2015, is now available on a wider variety of platforms as of today. These include iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify among others. You can give the Spotify version a whirl below - it's free, fun and the health risks are slim:
Hopefully some of the other Struwwelpeter albums will see the light of the day as well, which would be nice as a lot of them have been OOP for a fair few years now. I'll play it by ear. In the meantime the original digital release is still available on Bandcamp and, for you old-fogeys, compact disc. Whatever's your pleasure.