Monday, 29 August 2011

Happy 40th!

Another festival checkpoint has been reached as of this morning, with "The Naughty List" clocking up its fortieth screening! That's four fifths of my long game for the film achieved (my plan is to retire it once it hits fifty), so cold turkey leftovers for everyone! Vilnius Film Shorts will take place in Lithuania from October 13th-16th, and knock wood I may be able to grab a long weekend and head on over there. The only Lithuanian I know is a barista who I'm pretty sure spits in my coffee every morning, so maybe if I immerse myself more in her culture she'll instantly love me. I really do make grounded, logical plans.I may as well use this opportunity to make the somewhat overdue announcement that I have received a grant to part-fund my fourth film "Bullies", which is trundling along nicely. Assets are gradually being built, deadlines are in place and, most importantly, I'm making headway getting the animatic edited down before I start the animation proper. Right now it's down to eighteen minutes after its initial twenty-five. There's lots more whittlin' down to be done (ideally if I can get it down to ten then I'll be in much better shape) but all in all, things look good. I also figure that, as with "House Guest", the unused dialogue that doesn't necessarily work as a film could still be used as part of a graphic novel adaptation once it's done. Look at me with my planning ahead as opposed to my usual barreling blindly into calamity. It's like I'm becoming a grownup.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The latest Skwigly piece of mine went up this week, and I can't sing the praises of its focus highly enough. It's a feature on/interview with the Oscar-winning Australian animator/writer/director Adam Elliot, a man whose work manages to be both retro (visually) and progressive (story-wise). His most recent project is "Mary & Max", the fantastic stop-motion feature which I brought up on here a couple years back.Even though I didn't become aware of his work until I began my MA back in 2006, I was instantly bowled over when I saw "Cousin" as part of a Pictoplasma DVD - somewhat incongruously as the bulk of the collection focused on digital character-based motion graphics.I think what grabbed me the most about his stuff was, at a time when people throw mental illness and tragedy into their films to disingenuously tug at audience heartstrings, Elliot takes the same subject matter and makes it fucking hilarious. Which, in turn, makes the somber elements all the more touching and honest. I won't go on about him too much here as it's a long-ass article and says everything I have to say far more coherently than these blog ramblings o' mine. But, if by some bizarre happenstance you're an animation fan and haven't encountered him, please give it a read and/or check out his work.

A Conversation With Adam Elliot

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Not knowing shnit from shninola...

Another festival update blog post for "The Naughty List", I know these are boring and self-congratulatory but it helps me keep track of them if I document the screenings on here. Oh yeah, and I'm a self-loving prick.First off is the Shnit International Short Film Festival, which has a pretty unique agenda of occurring simultaneously in four different regions - Bern in Switzerland, Cape Town in South Africa, Cologne in Germany and Wien in Austria. All four countries will host the festival from October 5th-9th, and at some point my jaunty li'l christmassy short will be part of Shnit Animates, I'll know when exactly once the program for this year's edition goes up.Before then it'll be screening in competition at the Sintetitza Pyrenees International Short Film Festival in Berga, Spain. Again I'm not 100% sure when but from what I gather the festival will be on from September 18th-25th.
Alright, I'm done. That wasn't so awful was it?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cheese & Nipples

The very green Land of Switzer, more precisely the town of Emmental, will be exposing Santa Claus's veiny thighs at the Emmentaler Filmtage this October. Said month is turning out to be a pretty busy one for "The Naughty List", with five fests and counting so far. It's certainly redeemed Emmental in my eyes, as frankly I have never been bowled over by the cheese which bears its name.As it turns out, my bi-monthly self-googling revealed that two other festivals in Italy (a country whose cheese is beyond compare - we get it, Ben, you're fat) snuck the film in earlier this year: Video Festival Imperia in April and the San Giò Verona Video Festival in July. It would've been nice to have been told before, but it kicks the festival count up to thirty-seven so far, which is pretty encouraging as the number I'm aiming for with this film is fifty by July next year.My figure drawing attempts have been plodding along, improving in some areas and plateauing in others. I'm finding that shading really does cover up a world of hurt, so I'm far less enamoured of the quicker warm-up sketches. Also the class I attend seems to have a tendency to favour slimmer, younger models, which are a lot trickier to replicate on paper as they have less focal points.
I'd make a great life model at the moment. My body is in this weird transitional phase where my limbs are toned while my torso is that of a middle-aged mother of ten. I'd get my kit off in a heartbeat for the cash but I don't trust that I'd be able to stay still for more than thirty seconds at a time. That and, y'know, li'l Ben can be unpredictable under pressure.
Here are some attempts with charcoal, to venture outside of my wheelhouse a bit:

And I've also been attempting some with my Cintiq. The issue, of course, being that I can't really bring it with me to a session, and my friends have all been selfishly unreceptive to coming over and getting naked for me in exchange for Asda deli pizza. So right now I'm working off freeze-frames of scenes from movies. Not ideal (and the ability to superimpose the stills over my drawings when I'm done and see just how horribly out of proportion they are is kinda depressing) but it's a start. Anyway, here's one. Guess the film and you win literally nothing:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Those little reminders that we're all hurtling towards death...

Art from "Ren's Retirement", season 3

The alarming revelation that "The Ren & Stimpy Show", probably my most crucial influence, debuted twenty years ago to the day means one thing above all else: I'm officially an old piece of shit. So in honour of this, here's a drawing I did to test out my Cintiq the other month:
I'm generally not into fan art, mainly because of the sociopathic insistence people have on putting the characters into horribly unpleasant sexual scenarios (although in the case of Ren & Stimpy John K already did that with the Lost Episodes). The old man behind them is Wilbur Cobb, one of the lesser-appreciated, post-Spümcø characters that I always had a fondness for as he was a dead ringer for my own granddad, right down to the coughing fits, missing body parts and talking in non-sequiturs.
About five years ago I slapped together a presentation on the show during my Animation MA, and threw it online when I first started this blog. it's a little patchy and my voiceover for it is horrible (and as a man who loves the sound of his own voice that's a telling admission, my friends) but what the heck, this seems like an appropriate enough occasion to dust it off:

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

La Lista Traviesa!

After last week's lamentation that "The Naughty List" hasn't gotten much of a response from kids' festivals, I just heard that it'll be part of Anifest Rozafa, another predominantly children-oriented festival in Albania this September. Which is nice of them. Forward thinking. I guess them Albanian young'uns have thicker skins. I've always liked that about them.The film's screenings later this month at Mexico's Monterrey International Film Festival I now know will be on Friday 19th (6:30pm), Sunday 21st (4pm) and Tuesday 23rd (9pm) at Cinépolis Las Américas. So if you want to be in Mexico in time you better make a move, sharpish.
Meanwhile, I'm continuing my VHS archival project, transferring any rarities or nostalgic vignettes ne'er released commercially that I come across. Midst amusement at recalling my adolescent impulse to record all manner of 'saucy' European films and Susie Bright documentaries, there have been some pretty good finds here and there. It'll take a while to transfer and upload them all, but here are a handful of snippets from an animation show called "Dope Sheet" back in 1997. I only taped part of one episode (I think because I knew John Kricfalusi was going to be on it and I wanted to see what the voice of Ren looked like) and from what I can see the show seems a little patchy and slow overall. This excerpt from a segment on animation in advertising is kind of interesting for the advice of Oscar Grillo to newcomers (IE don't bother) and a brief conversation with young up-and-comer Luis Cook (who has since both upped and come):

Another piece on cartoon wartime propaganda, similar to the previous doc I posted and notable for the contribution of a still-alive Chuck Jones:

And the aforementioned John K interview in which he extolls the virtues of Bob Clampett and Robert Mitchum:

Hope those entertain you all, because I'm out of things to write. Uh...bye.