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.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

That festive feelin'

Some wonderful news in that both Laura-Beth Cowley's The Gift and my latest film Speed will both be among the line-up at this year's digital edition of the Manchester Animation Festival. As regular readers will be aware this is an event we've had a particularly fond relationship with in multiple capacities since it began five years ago. Festivalgoers can catch The Gift as part of the Short Films Panorama from November 15th with Speed part of the notorious MAFter Dark programme that will stream 9pm on the 18th. While the traditional Skwigly-curated screenings won't be part of this year's edition we are still cooking up an online version of our notoriously hair-thinning Skwigly Quiz that will be held on the 17th at 9pm, so hopefully see you there!

Quick follow-up to my recent post on this year's Encounters Film Festival, my dual role as both participating filmmaker and event helper-elf has called for a bit of schedule reshuffling and my original interview session has been moved from today to next week, mainly as I'm now hosting today's and things would run the risk of getting too meta if I interview myself.

If you're scratching your heads, basically I'll be running the following panels for the animation selection:

  • 23/09 - Animation 3: Short Shorts 1
  • 25/09 - Animation 5: Eyes on the World 1
  • 28/09 - Animation 6: Alumni 1
  • 01/10 - Animation 9: Trailblazers 2
  • 02/10 - Animation 10: Eyes on the World 2
  • 05/10 - Animation 11: Brits and Pieces
  • 07/10 - Animation 12: Short Shorts 3

All of these take place at noon and will be posted up the evenings of their initial live streams and available until the end of the festival. The other sessions will be hosted by Encounters' Animation Programmer Kieran Argo at the same time each day, so be sure to check 'em all out. Overall these will cover a far wider spectrum of participants than the live Q&As of past editions have been able to so that's a bit of silver lining as far as our current predicament goes. For those of you chomping at the bit to hear my pithy insights into the making of Speed, I believe I'll be part of the noon panel on the 30th (a week today). Tune in and give me a good grillin' why doncha?

Monday, 21 September 2020

Another little'un

New music for your Monday!

Hell For Leather, my latest EP in anticipation of the still-cooking Struwwelpeter album My Head Is Too Small For My Body, is up now on a bunch of platforms to stream/purchase. As well as an instrumental version of the title track it also features alternate non-LP versions of Act Right (which originally appeared on my 2015 LP The Birdcage) and the previously-unreleased Worst of You, which will be a bit longer and ruder on the album proper when it comes out.

Depending on where your loyalties lie you can check it out on Spotify (below), Bandcamp, Google Play, Apple Music, Amazon and Deezer, with more to come.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Speedy September

Hey there, youngfolk. You're all looking sprightly today.

Some general updates regarding the screening schedule of my latest film Speed for the rest of this month, which has turned out to be rather busy. Firstly the magnificent folks over at Pictoplasma will be showing it as part of their third short film programme Together, Apart, which will stream this Saturday September 19th at 5pm Germany time (4pm here in the UK) on the Festival Stream channel. If you're a fellow attendee I'm gonna try and nose my way into the Zoom meet'n'greet directly after the programme, so maybe see you there.

This weekend also sees the Encounters Film Festival here in Bristol kicking off for three massive weeks up until October 11th. My understanding is that, rather than there being specific screening slots, festival passholders will have access to the full programme to peruse at their leisure for the duration, so get on it! I will however be participating in a livestreamed filmmaker Q&A that festivalgoers can tune into this coming Wednesday, September 23rd at noon. In fact I'll be hosting a few of the other sessions as I'd previously done for the physical edition, so there's a chance you'll see my adorable hairy mug regardless. UPDATE 18/09: I've also just gotten wind that Speed will be part of a special Comedy Shorts presentation that will stream to passholders from 8pm tonight!

Then on Saturday September 26th you can catch Speed as part of the digital programme for this year's Anima Syros, closing out their International Panorama V screening which starts at 10:30pm in the Posidonia Virtual Hall. For the more adventurous Grecians among ye, there will also be a nearly-simultaneous (starting 10:45pm that same night) open-air screening of the same programme you can check out instead, which will be at the Posidonia Tsiropina Mansion. Fancy!

Also on the 26th the film will be screening as part of the Tokyo Anime Award Festival's delayed presentation of this year's films in competition from earlier this year. Speed will screen in Slot 3 at 7pm, repeated the following day at 4:55pm at the New Bungeiza (Marhan Ikebukuro Building 3F).

In non-Speed-but-still-animation-screening-ey news, I should mention that Laura-Beth and I will again be mucking in with our pals at Cardiff Animation Nights this month for some Skwigly filmmaker Q&As, this time with participating animation talents Ivyy Chen (Isle of Chair) and Tobias Rud (But Jane Was Deaf) respectively. It's another pearler of a screening so be sure to tune in to their YouTube channel this Thursday September 24th at 8pm and treat yourselves.

Friday, 4 September 2020

State of the world

A couple new podcasts for your listenin' ears, folks!

Firstly I'm enormously proud to present the first podcast from Visible In Visuals, a new organisation pushing to make the animation and visual effects industries more inclusive. Following on from animator Tanya Scott's Skwigly piece Inclusion & Diversity in UK Animation Workforce: A Response, and subsequent online discussions including the recent panel Inclusion In Animation organised by ScreenSkills, UWE and the Cardiff Animation Festival, Visible In Visuals has been developed by Tanya and Hodan Abdi as an online platform pushing to make the animation and VFX industries more diverse and inclusive through honest, open conversation.

The first Visible In Visuals panel Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: A People of Colour Perspective features panelists Bimpe Alliu, Rizwan Rafiq, Mohamed Orekan and Tanya Scott. Direct download here or stream above.

We've also wrapped up another batch of Skwigly Film Club podcasts this week, with our latest episode seeing us watch-through another Raymond Briggs weepie When the Wind Blows, directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. These have been a lot of fun to do and I reckon it's very likely they'll continue once we're all a little less busy later on in the year. Certainly it looks like this lockdown lark isn't easing up anytime soon so it's a nice little series to have bubbling away. Give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or regular-ass email if you have any film suggestions for when it kicks off again. In the meantime you can stream the episode below or get it downloaded here.

Friday, 28 August 2020

End o'week twofer

Crikey, two blog posts in one week. It's starting to get like the before times up in here.

Firstly I want to say thanks to all the folks who checked out last night's Cardiff Animation Nights screening and to the wonderful filmmakers Lana Simanenkova, Cliona Noonan and Justin Hilden for participating in our Skwigly Q&As afterwards. It was really encouraging to see such a positive response over the feed and knock wood we'll be able to do more like it in the near future. Kudos as always to Lauren, Ellys and the CAN team for a great selection and for keeping enthusiasm for this kind of thing alive.

To wrap up this week I have news of two more events that will be including my latest film Speed, the first being the Warsaw Animation Film Festival that, having kicked off yesterday, will be including the film in the Professional Animation Competition Block 3: Twisted all throughout Sunday (August 30th) via the online platform MOJEeKINO. You can check out the full programme here. Dziękuję, folks!

The tremendous Anima Syros festival has also revealed that Speed is among their official selection this week. This was one of the first events to give Klementhro a punt around five years back so they hold a special place in my heart. This time around my film will be included as part of the International Panorama alongside some magnificent work and, all being well, the festival will run from September 23rd through to the 27th as a 'Phygital' edition. More info on how that will manifest itself and programme specifics when it comes.

That's all from this guy. Enjoy your bank holiday, kids!

Monday, 24 August 2020

What? 'Spalpeen' is definitely a word.

Happy Monday, youngfolk!

This year's edition of the magnificent Encounters Film Festival has announced its Official Selection, which I'm excited to say includes my latest film Speed as well as Laura-Beth's The Gift among what looks like an absolutely stellar line-up. For those of you paying attention - yes, I was on the preselection team for the festival again and no, I didn't get to preselect the films I worked on. But I would have in a goddamn heartbeat because I'm a lovably unscrupulous spalpeen and, frankly, they're delightful.

Other personal highlights include some films/filmmakers recently covered on Skwigly, such as Michaela Mihályi and David Štumpf's SH_T HAPPENS, Theodore Ushev's The Physics of SorrowAndreas Hykade's Altötting and Robin Shaw's The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Of course this will be a digital edition and you can find out more info as it comes via the festival website in the coming weeks.

That reminds me, following up on my earlier post regarding Speed's inclusion as part of Fest Anča's Extremely Short Selection of Extremely Short Films - it looks like that one is indeed going ahead as a physical edition. Obviously they have precautions set up but it'll be an indoor screening, so if you swing by then be sure to be safe and, y'know, make sure you don't hug your nan for a while. At any rate it'll be this Friday 11pm at the Stanica Žilina-Záriečie in the EKSEKF 2 programme.

Back to Skwiglyville, we've wrapped up our second batch of Skwigly Film Club episodes, so if you're not yet caught up then head over to the site to catch our recent watch-throughs of George Dunning's Yellow Submarine and Jonathan Myerson's The Canterbury Tales. Also if you want to weigh in on what we look at next then be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter and cast your votes during the playoffs.

If you fancy something else to listen to then you can siphon a previously-unreleased upload I dusted off over the weekend into your trembling little earholes. This is an alternate, non-explicit edit of the opening track to my 2015 LP The Birdcage plucked from a pile of prospective b-sides for the next EP that will hopefully be going up soon. It was quite a long time ago that I put this one together so I don't remember much about making it other than having some fun with the funky-worm synth during the bridge. Anyways, here it is:

Weren't that purtey? Right, now scram, ya ingrates.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Ridin' them coattails again


Happy Monday, gang! Following its TV broadcast earlier this year there's some festival news for Laura-Beth Cowley's latest film The Gift, made for BBC Arts/Calling The Shots and on which I animated and made various unpleasant noises. These will all be online events and all look like great fun so give 'em some consideration.

Down Mexico way it will be among the official selection for Macabro FICH, which takes place August 25th-30th. I'm not exactly sure if there are fixed programme times or if the screenings will be accessible for the duration as there's no English version of the site and I'm an uneducated fool who can barely speak his own language at the best of times, let alone Spanish.

Another exciting inclusion taking place around the same time is this year's edition of Arrow Video Frightfest. This is the second time I've been able to ride the coattails of someone else's film getting in to this particular festival and I'm enthusiastic to see how the digital version comes together. The Gift will be part of the Short Films Showcase 2 that festivalgoers can stream from 6pm on August 27th through to 9pm on the 31st. Tickets are a measly £5 and you can grab 'em up here. Also worth a reminder that right afterward Laura-Beth and I will be helping out our pals at Cardiff Animation Nights for their August programme that starts at 8:15pm on YouTube, so that's your evening sorted!

The following week the Linoleum Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival will be taking place, starting on September 2nd through to the 6th. Having featured Laura-Beth's previous film Boris-Noris back in 2017 (as well as my film Klementhro the previous year) these folks have further cemented their reputation for good taste by featuring both The Gift and my latest film Speed this year. The Gift will be among the Ladies First programme showcasing standout new work by female directors and Speed can be seen as part of the special screening #KillMePlease curated by Skwigly comrade Aaron Wood.

A couple months further down the line the film will be participating in the first season of the Nosferatu Film Festival, a triannual event focused of indie horror films that will be taking kicking things off in October/November. More info on that one when it comes, in the meantime you can follow the film's Facebook page and Instagram for updates.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Yelling with my mouth shut

Some more podcasts to sink your ears into, if that were how ears worked. It's been a minute but there's a new episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast up now in which we meet four of the rising talents at Walt Disney Animation Studios who have recently made films for the first season of the Disney+ exclusive shorts series Short Circuit.

Participating in the roundtable discussion are Jennifer Stratton (Zenith), Trent Correy (Drop), Kendra Vander Vliet (Downtown) and Jeff Gipson (Cycles).

Also discussed in this episode: The welcome return of Animaniacs, the unwelcome return of Ren and Stimpy among other recent Gen X Comedy Central reboots, Don Hertzfeldt's teaser for World of Tomorrow: Episode 3, the curious pushback against the creator of A24's new acquisition Hazbin Hotel as well as the rapid adaptation of the animation festival landscape midst the continuing pandemic. Direct download link is here or stream below if you're the streamin' type:

Maybe it's lockdown or maybe it's the heat - or maybe that we're nearly 100 episodes in - but listening back while putting this one together it feels a little more contentious and didactic than usual. As always if anyone out there has any thoughts on some of the stuff we go into feel free to get in touch, even if it's to tell me what a grouchy melt I'm being.

If that still leaves you wanting then there's good news in that the Skwigly Film Club is still clubbin' along. Recent episodes have included watch-throughs of such fine fillums as Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Roger Mainwood's Ethel and Ernest as well as Chris Butler and Sam Fell's ParaNorman. The polls are still open for which film we'll babble over during this week's episode, so be sure to cast your vote and assist in determining our fate.

On the subject of a possible future podcast strand, some of you may recall Tanya Scott's Skwigly article Inclusion & Diversity in UK Animation Workforce: A Response addressing the findings of a prominent industry survey. It's prompted a lot of discussion and through podcasts and panel discussions Tanya's been expanding on some of the conversation points in the months since, such as a recent Inclusion In Animation panel back in June. The reactions have been very encouraging and hopefully it will prove to be something Skwigly can assist with further. In the meantime Tanya will be conducting a follow-up panel further discussing BAME issues within the industry and if you're interested in hearing more, helping out or contributing questions be sure to follow her new organisation Visible in Visuals. If you missed the original panel unfortunately it wasn't recorded but the Cardiff Animation Festival put up an excellent infographic series breaking down the points and insights that came up.

Speaking of the ever-wonderful CAF team, Laura-Beth and I will be mucking in with their next Cardiff Animation Nights screnning in a Skwigly capacity for some filmmaker Q&As. The event will take place August 27th via their YouTube channel, kicking off around 8:15pm so be sure to tune in.

As my brains are melting out of my ears right now I think I'll wrap up this post here, but swing by again soon as there's some more good news a-comin'...

Friday, 17 July 2020

Another staggered update

Some very happy news regarding my latest film Speed is that it's part of the official selection at this year's Pictoplasma conference. This is an organisation I've been an enormous fan of since before I even started making films so to finally have work included is a real coup. It'll run from September 18th-19th, naturally it'll be an online iteration but their guest line-up and fellow official selectees are all top-notch, plus it's completely free, so it should be pretty damn great. You can check out what's on offer here.
Those wonderful folks over at Routledge are having themselves a summer sale, which means that my chunky book Independent Animation: Developing, Producing and Distributing Your Animated Films is along for the ride at a glorious 20% off until the beginning of August. Don't forget there's FREE SHIPPING on top of that, friends. Grab yourself a copy today and stave off them pesky lockdown anxiety attacks with 440+ pages of indie animation wonderment!
Speaking of books, I've gotten wind that all of the paperback editions of my independent graphic novels have disappeared from Lulu. After a bit of lazy sleuthing it looks like there's been some big update over there and a bunch of stuff's been thrown out of whack, so I'll look into getting them back up but from what I gather their customer service has been lax lately so don't hold your breath.
In truth I'm not really sure if I'll bother as sales of all of them have slowed to a crawl and, while it was a pretty nifty thing in my early 20s, the thrill of the self-published indie comics scene has waned a touch 10+ years on. You can still buy the non-Lulu version of Throat, which I remain kind of proud of, as a three volume set via Amazon and various other outlets. There might be something in re-releasing that as a single book again down the line, we'll see.
A graphic novel project I'm altogether more excited about is the long-awaited print edition of the late great Rosto's absurdist, metaphysical opus Mind My Gap, which finally arrived alongside a stunning vinyl soundtrack to his Thee Wreckers tetralogy and various other goodies. Before he passed away I was peripherally involved in the book as a proof-reader and it's wonderful to see it made flesh by the folks at Autour de Minuit who have really done the fella proud. I'm not sure what future plans there are for non-backers to be able to buy a copy but if I hear anything I'll definitely post it up as it's turned out beautifully and the more people who own it the better.
If you haven't swung by Skwiglyville in a while then you might want to catch up on some of our recent Annecy 2020 coverage, including a new interview with Andreas Hykade about his latest film Altötting. The Skwigly Film Club has also been continuing and the last few weeks have seen us do watch-throughs of Chicken Run, Isle of Dogs, James and the Giant Peach, Watership Down and The Little Prince. Swing by the podcasts section of the site to check them out and get in touch if you have any future film suggestions.
Think that's all I got for this month so far. As you were.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Summer plans (in lieu of, y'know, actual summer plans)

In the latest episode of the third season of our podcast series Intimate Animation we meet Prague-based directorial duo Michaela Mihályi and David Štumpf, whose recent short film SH_T HAPPENS has been screening to much enthusiasm and acclaim around the world at events including Sundance, Clermont Ferrand, LIAF and Anima Brussels. 
We also discuss Laura-Beth’s recent experience making The Gift for Calling The Shots, the unexpected revival of Tuca and Bertie, the recent YouTube virality of previous podcast guest Dario Van Vree’s Tabook, the long-overdue progressiveness of Pixar’s Out plus love’n’sex-themed short film highlights from the recent online edition of ITFS Stuttgart. Give 'er a stream or download forevs.
Some upcoming festival news (of the shackled, lockdown variety) is that Speed will return to Japan as part of the Official Selection of this year's edition of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival. I've had these folks on my radar since I first started making films so it's wonderful to be part of the line-up. Of course it won't be going ahead in the traditional sense but it's an honour all the same. You can swing by their website for an outline of the revised format and the deliberations will be taking place from August 20th-24th. 
In the more immediate future the film will also be part of FilmOneFest, an event focusing on micro-shorts that will be kicking off June 23rd with free screenings via Facebook live that will span the following month. Once things have returned to normalcy there is a public screening planned which I'll follow up on once I know the details.

Another event to make the switch to an online edition is Russia's Big Cartoon Festival, who will include my 2015 film Klementhro among its line-up for what I gather is something of a digital retrospective edition (the film participated in its 2017 edition and several associated events the following year). The event will run from July 3rd-12th with my film part of their What A Day! screening that plays on the 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th and 12th and you can swing by their website for more specifics in the lead-up. These screenings will also be free from what I can tell, so go ahead'n'treat yourselves.

Sunday, 7 June 2020


Guess who liked "Weird Al" album covers growing up...
It's been a minute or two since the last one but today sees the release of the second single from the upcoming sixth Struwwelpeter album My Head Is Too Small For My Body. The album's still a ways from being cooked but it's taking shape and unlike any records I've produced it's actually turning out to be quite thematically consistent. In the meantime this song is called Progressive and it draws on an affection for alternative synth-pop I developed during my time on Trampires. It also lyrically felt like a prescient choice given the recent convergence of cancel culture and societal uprising that kicked off a couple weeks back. To that end, if bought/streamed from Google Play, Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon then 100% of any sales revenue will be going directly to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Color of Change (so 50% each), two organisations doing particularly important work amidst all of this uproar. For those of you on Bandcamp they will similarly be donating revenue to NAACPLDF if you buy on the 19th of the month moving forward.
The EP also features an exclusive remix of the song as well as a re-recorded acoustic version of an old track Staying In, a song about...well, staying in. Although the original version was less about social responsibility and more about being anxious and lazy it felt like a fitting topic either way.
If you're after some more lockdown listenin' then there a bunch more episodes of our Skwigly Film Club series in which we watch and discuss animated features. We'll be resuming the podcast from next week for another batch if you want to get involved but in the meantime you can listen back to our watch-throughs of The Iron Giant (Brad Bird), Corpse Bride (Mike Johnson/Tim Burton), South Park (Trey Parker) and The BFG (Brian Cosgrove).

Friday, 8 May 2020

Stormy May Days

It's sort of reassuring that, even when the world is at an unprecedented standstill, if I wait long enough between blog posts I can maintain the illusion that it's all-go.
If you didn't manage to catch the BBC4 programme Get Animated! featuring Laura-Beth's new film The Gift - or if you want to see it again - it will be available on the BBC iPlayer for nearly a year from now, which is grand news. I hadn't realised earlier but the channel also had a repeat showing of Secrets of British Animation, a documentary in which my beardy face occasionally makes an appearance to talk about dirty cartoons, so that's also back on iPlayer but just for the next few weeks. There's some fun stuff in there so definitely give it a look if you didn't catch it the first time around.
Some really nice news in that Slovakia's Fest Anča International Animation Festival, one of the events who screened my very first film back in the day, have announced that my new film Speed is among the official selection for their 2020 edition. It's scheduled to take place from August 27th-30th so it's hard to say whether or not it'll go ahead as planned or make the switch to digital, but in intent my film will be part of the Extremely Short Section of Extremely Short Films. Will keep you posted with any updates that come between then and now.

Speaking of switching to digital, another event that has recently kicked off is Lift-Off Global Network's Genre Content Extravaganza, which includes both Speed and my preceding film Sunscapades in their Page 2 section. The programme can be rented and voted on through May 14th - with over 100 films to check out you get a lot of bang for your buck and, to be honest, it's not like you've got anywhere to be right now - so grab some popcorn and check it out. I'd originally submitted my work to this one as selected filmmakers get to visit Pinewood Studios and I was hoping I'd get to swing by the Channard Institute, so it's a bit of a shame that's not happening - but waddayagonnado? Nice of them to include the work either way.

If you need some audio goodness to accompany your extended weekend then - huzzah - we've got some podcasts for ya. The latest episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast welcomes back previous guest Kris Pearn to learn about his new Netflix film The Willoughbys and our Skwigly Film Club series continues with watch-throughs of animation classics The Land Before Time (Don Bluth) and The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet). Keep following us on Facebook, Twitter et al to get involved and help us decide which films we watch in future. We've also recently expanded our distribution platforms a touch so, depending on which floats your boat most buoyantly, be sure to follow us via Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or Acast and never miss an episode!

Friday, 24 April 2020

April Drizzle

As the world is generally moving a little slower these days I inevitably have less to post about, but this week's seen a bit of a clump of nifty updates I can share. Firstly the amazing Laura-Beth Cowley's latest film The Gift (made last year with Calling the Shots/BBC Arts and on which I was privileged to contribute some animation and sound) will be getting its broadcast premiere this Sunday evening on BBC as part of a special BBC Introducing Arts programme Get Animated! You can get a sneaky preview of what to expect here and be sure to tune in to BBC4 at 10:55pm to catch it - it'll also be available on BBC iPlayer afterwards.
After a long period of radio silence following its much-loved festival run, there are some rumblings of activity coming from the Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires camp in the form of a newly-revamped website for production studio Animortal and a recently-released behind-the-scenes featurette on the film itself. Have a gander above to see some of the incredible work that went into it (you may even catch a little breakdown of my own contributions to the VFX and compositing at around the 3:20 mark). Fingers crossed we'll hear some word of a release in the near future...

Meanwhile the wonderful Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film has, like many events for the foreseeable future, migrated its programme to a special online edition running from May 5th-10th. Having been involved in the festival as both press and as a filmmaker in the past I had been set to attend in a third capacity, this time as part of the International Competition Jury - but alas, I ain't goin' nowhere. We will, however, be convening online and I can assuredly say this year's selection of films is a uniquely strong and consistent cross-section of some of the best work around and I can't recommend checking this online iteration out enough. You can find out more info here but in short there are three options for experiencing the festival - a free edition, equivalent to their open-air Festival on Schlossplatz; streaming access to the entire official selection for 9.99€; and, for professionals, the Pro edition grants digital access to an assortment of masterclasses, presentations and the complete animated video market for 19.99€. When you think of what you're saving on air fare and accommodation it really is a steal, so check out the festival website for more info.
If life durin' lockdown is starting to drag you might want to get yourselves caught up on our new Skwigly podcast series Skwigly Film Club in which myself, Steve, Laura-Beth and possibly others down the line babble over a variety of animated feature films. Since we launched it a few weeks back with Don Hertzfeldt's It's Such a Beautiful Day we've since hit play on Adam Elliot's Mary and Max, Claude Barras's My Life as a Courgette (or Zucchini, depending on which side of the pond you're on) and Gerald Potterton's Heavy Metal. I'm sure episodes to come will be even more diverse and if anyone wants to weigh in with their suggestions, thoughts, memories and suchlike be sure to keep in touch via our Twitter and Facebook as the series continues.