Monday, 29 December 2014

Chocolate Substitute
Our Skwigly advent calendar has wrapped up for another year, and what a thing of beauty it has become!
Here's another sampling of brilliant contributions:
Tanya Scott
Ross Butter and Louis Hudson
Rok Predin
Blue Zoo
Charlie Miller
Elliot Crutchley
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Massive gratitude again to everyone who took the time! Until next year, boys and gals.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Season Song

"Ew, why's that prick buggering up my lovely song?"
Happy allocated-family-togetherness week, m'lovelies! Here's hoping you have a tolerable time with you and yours this season. In lieu of a scrapped plan to put up some free downloadable EPs I've cleaned up my live recording of Danny Elfman's "La Canzone di Sally"/"Sally's Song" (from Nightmare Before Christmas) from the other week and made it downloadable between now and the new year as a sort unofficial Christmas single. Obviously I didn't write it so can't sell it, but should you feel so inclined give it a download here!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Latest Lightboxery
I mentioned last week that we would put up an extended version of Julia Young's brilliant interview with Disney legend Glen Keane. Here it be!
This is the first episode of what I've lazily dubbed Lightbox Plus (because, y'know, it's Lightbox with extra bits), a series I expect will be less regular than the standard Lightbox episodes and exclusive to our Vimeo channel. Don't forget we have another interview with Glen about his pre-Duet Disney years in the latest podcast (which you can download here).
Meanwhile the latest regular Lightbox features Seb Burnett, Creative Director of Rumpus Animation, talking about the previously mentioned Bertram Fiddle game. There are still some e-shopping days left and I suspect it would make the perfect cheap-as-chips gift for the indie point-and-click retro-gaming/Victorian era enthusiast in your life. So long as they have an iOS device. Have a watch below:
Learn more about the game at the Bertram Fiddle website. Look at me, brimming with seasonal altruism (in the self-serving-because-I'm-in-it sense).

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Merry Christmas to Me

Thought I'd treat myself to a little early Christmas present:
The physical copies of this one are very limited Record Store Day 'Black Friday' exclusives that didn't make it to UK stores. Luckily I managed to snag one kindly listed on the 'Bay without being horribly extorted. It's probably not a surprise that I'd be an avid Faith No More collector. In truth I don't think I've ever brought up the extent of it on here because it's sorta kinda sorta maybe a bit of a mental illness. To give a bit of a Jack-Torrence's-wife-reading-his-manuscript-for-the-first-time peek, this is an outdated photograph of how many copies of this album I own (but look carefully, they all have slight differences! Slight! Differences!):
So what was I gonna do, not find a way of getting my hands on the first vinyl 7" single they've released since 1992 (I am, of course, not counting promo releases and their 7x7" special extended edition of King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime, because that would be daft)?
As these panels from Throat indicate, I know I'm sick. BUT I NEVER WANNA GET BETTER.
So go, be with your brothers. They've been waiting 22 years.
The remix is pretty damn good, too.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Leaders of Men
Last Skwigly Animation Podcast of 2014!
No holiday play this year but I'm sure some of your Christmasses won't be completely ruined as a consequence. What more than makes up for it are the fantastic guests we have, and this episode's line-up is very esteemed indeed. In fact I think we all got time with a personal hero: Katie Steed talks to Glen Keane about his pre-Duet Disney career with some fantastic insight into the artistic theory and skill applied to his iconic characters such as the Beast, Aladdin, Tarzan, Pocahontas and Ariel; Steve Henderson brings Aardman's Peter Lord back (he was, if you recall, our very first major guest which really gave us credibility right out of the gate) to discuss the modern revival of his own iconic creation Morph; and I talk to indie genius PES about his fantastic stop-mo/pixilation creations, from Roof Sex to Submarine Sandwich (his latest, concluding the 'Food Trilogy' after Western Spaghetti and Fresh Guacamole).
I say this about a lot of them but this episode was another massive pleasure to put together. Stringing it all together Steve and I discuss upcoming features, Oscar predictions, animation 'celebrities', the oh-so-obvious Morph/South Park connection and we learn about Steve's 'incident' with Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
Download or stream over three hours of animation verbosity to stuff in your stocking! Don't say we don't spoil ya. For more goodness and to catch up on earlier episodes you can also of course subscribe on iTunes.
On a subject that could not be more unrelated if it tried, here's a clearer audio recording of one of Faith No More's new tracks, from a spontaneous live show they held at Amoeba Records on Record Store Day.

I am chomping at the goddamn bit to hear the studio version. Spontaneous Christmas EP, chaps?
What? You never know, they might be reading this.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

First Wave

What do all these people have in common? Apart from being generally amazing, I now owe them all a pint or several.
Quarter of the way there. Watch this space, friends.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

And then, terrifyingly, it was already December...

So...yeah...another month kind of slipped through my fingers there. Apologies.
But it's all for the greater good, as I'm sure you'll all come to realise...a year and a half from now. Christ, it just hit me: Before Project Group Hug is done, the world will have seen both a new Faith No More album and a new season of Twin Peaks.
(Apologies again, it appears a blog post can't go by without mentioning one or the other these days)
SO, what's been happening? Aside from the book I've had my toe back in the waters of production music - who knows, you may hear one of my compositional masterworks next time you're flicking through your Freeview or being forced to wait on hold by some ungodly customer service department - whilst also doing a bit of visual stuff for Bristol upstarts Rumpus Animation. Incidentally their first adventure game Betram Fiddle: A Dreadly Business comes out for iOS tomorrow, have a look at the trailer:

I might have had some involvement in that one as well. Just be wary of this lot:
Skwigly news - check out the latest Lightbox episodes, starting with Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson, director of Monkey Love Experiments which recently won itself a Scottish BAFTA.

After this one I took a bit of a break from the series to rethink our approach; Frankly I don't feel it's 'landed' and there may be a better direction to go with it. We shall see, but either way it's back as of today with none other than legendary Disney character designer/animator Glen Keane. Have a watch of Julia Young's excellent interview, the extended version of which will go up next week to launch Lightbox+.

As with previous years we're running our daily advent calendar through to the 25th, with a new artist each day. Here's a smattering:
Greg (of the Brothers) McLeod

Bianca Ansems

Robert Grieves

Katie Steed

Laura-Beth Cowley
On the interview front I was absolutely delighted to get some more time with Aardman's Peter Lord (who I previously interviewed in 2012 for his film The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists) as well as Nick Park, the man behind Wallace and Gromit which makes him a bit of a goddamn rockstar.
The interview went up on Monday in anticipation of tonight's Bristol Encounters event Lip Synch: A 25 Year Celebration which looks back at some of the studio's early work, including their first Oscar winner in Nick Park's Creature Comforts.
This era of their formative creativity represents my fondest memories of their work (well, on a par with The Wrong Trousers) so it was a real treat to get some time to natter about it. Incidentally I had also previously chatted with Richard 'Golly' Starzak, director of Ident, in episode 11 of the podcast which you can download here). Special thanks to Kieran from Encounters for helping set up the interview, if you fancy swinging by the event you can book tickets here.
This had to be the most rewound VHS I ever owned. Well, next to Moll Flanders and Video Croissant.
On a musical note, I've been working on a special holiday sampler package as well as polishing a new album for Spring 2015. Supplementing this have been some 'practice' live shows where I've indulged my fondness for covers. Here's a stab at Mr. Bungle's 'Quote Unquote' (AKA 'Travolta'):
And keeping in the pale-Patton-imitation vein, last Saturday I closed my set with FNM throatripper 'Cuckoo For Caca'. If you make it all the way through it's followed by Danny Elfman's 'La Canzone di Sally' from Nightmare Before Christmas, for those who've ever harboured the desire to know what I sound like singing a Disney love song in Italian. Which I can only logically assume is everyone.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Red Letter Day

Xmas in November, it seems. Bloody lovely stuff:

Given that of the three new songs they've played live this was my least favourite and it sounds this goddamn great, I have high hopes. Welcome back, boys.
Also, greatest band photo in the history of band photos (by Dustin Rabin)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The "What the hell happened to October?" Blog Post

Despite my semi-regular declarations of being snowed-under with life, work and other fabricated commitments, it's actually quite rare to let over an entire month go by without forcing my inanities on the blogosphere. Things have kicked into gear in an amazing and, at times, slightly terrifying way and my time is rarely my own. Probably for the best as when I have free reign over my own time I tend to use it playing emulated SNES Lemmings while eating dry cornflakes from the box. I'm not even talking name brand here, folks; I'm talking ASDA's own. Eeyup.
All in all, life is good. Faith No More are plugging away in the studio and Twin Peaks is coming back, so those two alone should give me a will to live at least through 2016. Work-wise I'm back in the bits and pieces world of animation freelancing alongside the now quite full-on Project Group Hug (it's a book, by the way, though I doubt there was any lingering mystery as it's been up on my LinkedIn for a while now).
Whilst researching for this film I lived with The Stig for eleven months
This follows a quite long contract with the fabulous folks at Slurpy Studios doing a series of educational videos for Oxford University Press. It wrapped up in September and you can have a look at a couple of the vids I worked on at the Activate Kerboodle site.
Skwigly is still maintaining its stride with some great coverage up since I last posted. New articles include reviews of Signe Baumane's wonderful Rocks In My Pockets (which I'm delighted to see is performing brilliantly) and Floyd Norman's quasi-autobiographical animation handbook Animated Life.
Interview-wise there are new chats with Canadian NFB directorial duo Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau (No Fish Where To Go) as well as Australian animator Anthony Lawrence (Grace Under Water), both of whose films were screened as part of this year's London International Animation Festival which I was able to swing by. Another NFB film which premiered in the UK recently was Seth's Dominion, a brilliant feature documentary on Canadian cartoonist Seth directed by Luc Chamberland (interview here).
Also worth catching up on are the latest episodes of Lightbox, with J.G. Quintel (Regular Show), Mikey Please (Marilyn Myller) and Dan Ojari (Slow Derek) of Parabella Studios and experimental, drawn-on-film artist Steven Woloshen (1000 Plateaus)
October's podcast has a fabulous line-up also: Animator Craig Smith interviews Tonko House (who made the amazing Dam Keeper), Julia talks to Jorge R. Gutiérrez (director of Reel FX's The Book of Life) and I chat with artist Lisa Hanawalt, designer on Bojack Horseman, a show I have to say I'm quite tickled by.
All the usual listening options are here for you, folks. Stream below, download for keepsies or subscribe, whydoncha?
This marks the twenty-fifth episode to date (not even including the various specials and minisodes) and I have to say the continuing support and feedback over the years has been amazing, so thanks so much to all for keeping us going. From my perspective there's no danger of it slowing down soon, so here's to twenty-five more!
Gawd 'elp us...

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Pale September

Good Lord, the time's whizzing by. We're pretty much at the end of the month and there's much by way of updateables, so tilt yourself at a nice comfy angle and let yourself be gently coated in news.
Firstly we at Skwigly recently did our annual Encounters coverage, this time around covering the festival's 20th anniversary edition which included some excellent events, guests and new films. You can have a read of my competition and special screening highlights as well as Laura-Beth and Julia's top picks of the fest.
Skwigly meet Glen Keane. Pic via Encounters Festival
One major perk across the board was getting to meet Disney veteran Glen Keane, a legendary chap responsible for some of the studio's most iconic contemporary characters who's recently partnered up with Google to create the jaw-dropping interactive short Duet. Expect to see some brilliant insight from the man up on Skwigly in the not-too-distant future.
Another special guest of the festival was Yoni Goodman, who presented the Ari Folman films Waltz With Bashir and The Congress, both of which he served as Animation Director on. I managed to catch The Congress at last year's Sommets du Cinéma d’Animation (you can read my review of it here) and was glad to get a second chance to watch it as there's a great deal to take in. I have some ambivalence toward it as an overall film but visually it's mind-bending and, at times, truly inspired so I'm very glad I got some time with Yoni:
On the subject of Lightbox, last week's episode featured Canadian filmmaker Janet Perlman, whose relationship with the NFB goes back almost 40 years. Her latest short Monsieur Pug premiered at OIAF last week and is a very nice piece of work, so have a watch and keep your eyes out for it:
On the more experimental side of the NFB animation spectrum is Michèle Cournoyer, director of The Hat and Accordion whose most recent short Soif is an equally no-holds-barred affair, exploring the tragedies of alcoholism. The film also played at OIAF and got an honorable mention, you can read more about it and Michèle's work in our interview which went up this morning.
Also up today is our latest Skwigly Podcast, featuring extended interviews with LAIKA President Travis Knight (The Boxtrolls) and Yoni Goodman, as well as a chat with Jesse Cleverly of Wildseed Studios, a Bristol-based initiative for the development of new animated series pilots. Download, subscribe or stream below:
Laura-Beth also chats about her recent involvement with Animation Toolkit's first crowdfunding endeavour Pooch Proposal. The campaign has gone live as of this week, I lent a hand in putting the pitch video together and I recommend you all check it out. Should it go ahead there's some brilliant talent involved and the incentives are excellent, especially for prospective stop-motion animators in the market for high-end, professional grade armature kits:
You can also follow Pooch Proposal on Twitter and like their Facebook page for regular updates and behind-the-scenes goodies.
Another shout-out goes in the direction of Rumpus Animation, whose video game project The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle is soon to be released and currently up on Steam Community for a chance to get picked up. Head on over to their Steam page and give it a vote as it's sure to be a good'un and I hear tell it has some mind-blowing voice talent involved.
I like the guy on the left. Can't explain why, I just get a good vibe off him..

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


This Friday The Boxtrolls, the latest film from LAIKA will be released in cinemas in the UK. With all of us at Skwigly being massive fans of the visual style of Coraline and ParaNorman, this one's pretty hotly anticipated and we managed to bag some nice coverage in the lead-up to release.
Up now we have the latest episode of Lightbox which features an exclusive interview with LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight, a pretty huge get and a major player in the uniquely fascinating story of how the studio came to be (detailed very well in this article from a couple months back). Also featured in this episode is actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright (from Game of Thrones, as the EPK informs me) who plays the film's main character Eggs. This one can't be embedded for use of film clips, though they were provided by the PR company for press purposes so I'm not sure what the dilly-oh is, there. At any rate if you're in the UK you can give it a watch by clicking below:
 Many thanks to Tom Sanders for getting the interviews done. You can also have a read of Laura-Beth's review of the film from last week. It looks to be a good'un.
Laura-Beth is also helping out with a new project by armature specialists Animation Toolkit, in which they'll be putting the equipment they sell to professional use in their own short film Pooch Proposal. It's early days yet but we have it on good authority that some serious animation talent will be involved, so follow them on Twitter and Facebook as it'll be one to watch.
Lastly here's a quick chat with JG Quintel, a very nice fellow who gave us some time at this year's Annecy Festival to talk about his series Regular Show which airs on Comedy Central. It's a fun one so if it's passed you by thus far I'd recommend giving it a look if you get a chance.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


There's some nice new content for y'all over in Skwiglyland. Granted everything that will ever happen, good or bad, in the foreseeable future has been rendered mere background noise after this week's Faith No More news, but on the ever-so-slight offchance that some of you aren't as affected by that as I then why not check out our latest episodes of Lightbox?
In anticipation of his latest short Subconscious Password screening at Encounters later this month, I've repurposed our Chris Landreth interview from our Annecy Special, wherein the forgetful soul talks to Steve about his process.
Keeping things Canadian, this week's episode features my old paisan Phil Vaucher who does things with sand and salt man was never meant to do. Very impressively, I might add. Many moons ago Phil sold me the very lightbox who posed for my mediocre CG intro that opens each episode.
Our third respectable Canuck of the week is visual artist Randall Lloyd Okita, whose NFB short The Weatherman and The Shadowboxer debuts at TIFF this Sunday. It's a beautiful piece of work, especially to those with an eye for good mograph and compositing. Have a read of our interview here.
That's all for this week. Go, disperse, be merry.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Even I'm Uncomfortable

Very late on in the game I was finally nominated by the lovely Laura-Beth to give the ALS Challenge a go. Here is the result:

Friday, 22 August 2014

Group Hug, Everybody!

Two very lovely occurrences worth bringing up have...uh...occurred this week. The first is the news that, after several months of development, pitches and meetings I haven't been in the room for, Project Group-Hug appears to be going ahead! Hurrah! Of course, naturally this means I can tell you what it's all going to be about. But I'm not gonna.
What I will say is it's all set to come together toward the end of 2015 and be out in the world sometime the following year, so try to stay awake until then.
Far more important news came in the form of this tweet which went up the other day:
Regrettably I'd say this removes the foolish hope that Faith No More would have snuck out a surprise new LP before my birthday in October, but it's still a potentially brilliant development nonetheless. In the meantime I'll have to keep myself satisfied with this lovely video by Vincent Forcier for Mr. Patton's other band Tomahawk:
Puppet Patton is the shiz, yo.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Glory Box

After a short summer break I've resumed Lightbox, the Skwigly series of animation mini-docs I'm producing for our fledgling YouTube Channel. To get you up to speed here's Laura-Beth's exclusive interview with Ben Bocquelet, creator of the bizarrely endearing (or endearingly bizarre, either work) Cartoon Network series The Amazing World of Gumball.
Also in the lead-up to this year's Encounters festival, this week's episode features a chat with their 2013 jury member, special guest and great filmmaker all-around, Isabelle Favez.

Isabelle's work includes the shorts Valise, Tarte aux Pommes and my personal favourite Au Coeur de l'Hiver which accommodates my guilty penchant for cute cartoon things scampering about. They're also pretty chucklesome so if you manage to track them down they're worth the effort.
Don't forget to subscribe on YouTube to catch each new episode, plenty more a-comin'!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Abandoned Language
What's new, folks? How about this latest episode of the Skwigly Podcast, eh? Out today, full of goodness, from my hard drive to your awaiting earholes. Don't say I never do nothin' for ya.
I'm happy to say that, over two years in, putting these together is still quite exciting, especially with such high-caliber guests. In this episode we have Bonnie Arnold from Dreamworks, producer of the How To Train Your Dragon movies, Toy Story and, rather awesomely, The Addams Family. The good version of The Addams Family. Also from the world of Dragons we have an extended version of our chat with Dean DeBlois which featured on the last episode of Lightbox. On top of this Laura-Beth talks to Disney talents Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed and Jeff Turley, director, producer and designer respectively of the upcoming short Feast which we managed to get a look at in Annecy.
Meanwhile, in a less traffic-heavy corner of SoundCloud, I've bunged up an old track from an obscure LP I worked on under the moniker Silverfish. I don't think I've ever brought that particular project up on here as it was slap-bang in the middle of my MA and I did a pretty crappy job on the production. The album was made up of two soundscape EPs The Bug Chaser and The Gift Giver, shmushed together. It has a mix of songs and noise pieces generally darker and less marketable than my Struwwelpeter albums and I never felt that motivated to push it, only knocking out fifty self-pressed copies to give away at shows. Listening back I reckon it actually has potential to be quite an interesting little record if I took some proper time redoing the production. This track is my first such experiment in that regard, one of the more 'song'-type songs which always been fun to sing live. I sprinkled some Reason magic over it and it makes a world of difference. Have a listen:
Just for the record, the above is as 'radio-friendly' as the album gets.
Lastly, this week is crunch-week as far as Project Group-Hug goes, so any of you out there who might wish me well (for whatever baffling-yet-appreciated reason) do keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, 31 July 2014


What, you never seen two celebrities chippin' about or sumthin'? Tssst.
This is myself and Lyle 'Chip' Chipperson, international sensation. After a superlative set of his in Montreal this past weekend I managed to get a quick snap with the brilliant comedian and performer Jim Norton, known for his standup, The Opie and Anthony Show and, of course, this animation I did back in 2011:

He's lost a lot of weight since then (from "gahn t'the jahm'n ate'n beh-tehr") so if I ever have time to do another one I'll have to redesign his character to have a neck.
O&A has been a background staple of my working life since 2008 and, as some may be aware, it appears to be no more after Anthony Cumia fell prey to the media hypocrisies they've so astutely ridiculed over the years and got his over-passionately-tweeting self fired. I could rant about it but many others have voiced my exact issues with far more articulacy and wit than I could, especially magical man-giant and all-around top bloke Penn Jillette:
Sad times. But I got to meet Chip regardless, and Ant's starting a new show on August 4th which I expect will be pretty decent, so the world appears to still be turning.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Still Skwiglin'

Just a quick fumble to keep you all appraised of some Skwigly updates.
The latest episode of Lightbox is now up and features the amiably amiable Dean DeBlois, director of How to Train Your Dragon 2. I'm more of a casual Dreamworks fan and, while I certainly enjoyed the first film, the sequel is a genuinely solid, witty piece of work which I'd definitely recommend checking out when it opens in the UK tomorrow.
There's also more Annecy 2014 coverage I haven't yet mentioned on here, have a read of some of the short film highlights and special events. Also the first piece from our time with Cartoon Network is up, wherein Laura-Beth chats to Ben Bocquelet, creator of The Amazing World of Gumball. Laura-Beth has also stepped up to design and animate this month's site banner:
These are getting to be a really nice way of engaging out writers and readers alike. You can check out an archive of prior banners here, including two personal favourites by Rumpus:
...and Sophie Klevenow:
Both of whom fall firmly into the category of people I periodically have to fight the urge to call up and say how awesome I think they are, mainly because it'd doubtless creep them out.
Some news to end on is that I've been told that Project Group-Hug is in the final stage before getting the go-ahead or not. As I've never elaborated on what it even is I appreciate that any interest in said news is probably less than nil. But it's worth keeping tabs on should it proceed. And if you never hear of it again...well, consider it a massive, derision-worthy failure. If I can offer you all nothing else than schadenfreude it's surely the least I can do.

Monday, 7 July 2014

"You don't feel it after awhile; You take the beating."

Holy effing moly, did I take a beating on Friday. While I'd planned to watch all the BST acts from afar, my overzealous enthusiasm in the moment planted me pretty much bang in the middle of the mosh pit for the first five hours. So the main thing I've taken away from the experience is: Yep, I am too old for that shiz (also for using words like 'shiz', but let's stay focused). True, it did take me back to them halcyon days of going apeshit at the Astoria and Mean Fiddler, but that was when I was young and foolish and didn't carry valuables; Nowadays nothing puts the fear into an old prick like me than the possibility of a mildly-scratched HTC display. Cold sweats just thinking about it. Brrr.
As for the day itself, bruises aside it ruled. Lemmy and his bulge were on fine form, Ozzy and the rest of Sabbath absolutely killed it, Soundgarden were nice enough to play all of Superunknown and there also.
But Faith No More were obviously who I came for above all else, and they were utterly goddamn blistering. Of the four shows I've now seen them do, it could very well be the tightest, it's just a shame that as openers they only got an hour slot. The setlist kept to mainly tried-and-tested live classics, the only song I'd not previously seen performed being the unexpected deep track Zombie Eaters which they opened with. Also peppered throughout were all-time personal favourites Midlife Crisis, Caffeine, Everything's Ruined, We Care A Lot, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies and King For A Day. Oh, and there were the new songs they threw in near the end. The first new songs written in years, which they debuted for what I can only assume was my benefit. No biggie, whatevs. Jeez, chillax, yo.
In truth I think I experienced what women in the olden days referred to as 'the vapours'.
Being the quintet of mischievous cockteases they're known to be, there've been no subsequent updates as to what this indicates, but predictably I've been obsessing over the new material, this one in particular:
Whether or not it's a work in progress, I love it. It brings to mind moments of Perfect Crime, What A Day, Digging The Grave, even the pre-Patton days of Introduce Yourself. I am over the freakin' moon. Along with the mysterious song Matador, which debuted in 2011, this now makes for three new songs in five years of being back together. Another couple years and we might have ourselves an EP, people!
Now to not move for several weeks while my bones knit. In the meantime I'll leave you with some Faith No Moreoke:

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Where am I? And how can I leave?

Criminey, a month-plus of radio silence. Surely bliss for the blogosphere?
Well, here I am again. Reconcile yourself with that and tough it out, friends.
The end of this week should mark a return to a life where I have more time available in the day than the scant few minutes in which to graze or micturate the last couple of months have allowed. On top of animation work I've been dealing with all sorts of exciting Skwigly diddlywotsits, unnecessary Throat (the book, not my actual throat) concerns, organising some special music events and the most needlessly protracted flatmove imaginable - especially considering it's within the same building. On top of all this I've also been in the final stages of getting something I'll refer to as "Project Group-Hug" off the ground. Based on a meeting I had last week things are looking good and, if it happens, it'll be something pretty damned amazing, so think warm gooey thoughts and spray them in my general direction.
Going back to the Skwigly diddlywotsits, here's a round-up:
Meeting celebs
Myself and Laura-Beth went over to Annecy the other week for the Sunniest Animation Festival Ever (thank Christ it was by a lake or our UK-acclimated selves would've snapped before the week was through). Predictably it was superb and, while I was a little nonplussed with a good deal of the competition selection, the special events and industry gatherings were spectacular. Stay tuned for some in-depth coverage of new developments from Dreamworks, Disney, the NFB and Cartoon Network to name a few. In the meantime here's some festival coverage to sink your toothies into:
Latest podcast featuring: Greg MacLeod (of the Bros. MacLeod) on his and brother Myles's recent films 365, Isle of Spagg and the upcoming Marfa; Jackie Cockle, whose work as an animator and director spans some of the most prominent stop-motion TV productions in the UK, such as Pingu and Timmy Time. Also included is some of the panel discussion I recently participated in alongside Dani Abram, Jane Davies, Gareth Cavanagh and Kerry Dyer. Download, subscribe and/or stream!
The Lightbox series of mini-docs which started up back in May has been going strong. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do so here and catch up with what's gone up so far:

Other new interviews of the written variety include Anita Kwiatkowska-Naqvi, whose pregnancy-themed film Ab Ovo is one of my absolute favourites from the festival circuit last year. Also as part of our Producing Animation series of articles I was able to chat with Annecy's current Artistic Director Marcel Jean on his prior career as an Animation Producer. Some really nice insights here, especially on transitioning from directing to producing.

It's nice to look at the above as some evidence that I have actually been being productive for the last little while. In truth I've been in a bit of a stress blur with the move, and my absence from this blog has been substituted with endless moaning at friends and family with each dull development and setback. What's given me tremendous perspective is just how good I have it as far as support from all directions when seas get choppy. Plus I've lost about 12lbs since I started flathunting, which I guess is a silver-lining. That and the new place is bloody lovely, so I have to concede it really was worth it.
Always darkest before the dawn, and July is also looking to be an exciting month ahead for fanboy reasons. You see, as a longtime David Lynch enthusiast, every two years or so I put myself through the strange dual pleasure/torture of watching a now-very-old show called Twin Peaks. Probably it doesn't need an introduction, it being such a staple of pop culture - it arguably did more for the landscape of television in the 90s than David Chase did with The Sopranos over a decade later. The difference being that, while I can think of *maybe* two episodes of Sopranos that didn't do it for me, at least a third of the episodes of Peaks are borderline unwatchable. It's one of the biggest and most well-known laments of the Lynch fan, that a show which starts off so brilliantly devolves so quickly (in all there are only thirty episodes, the first ten of which are pretty much faultless).
I suppose I'm really more a fan of Fire Walk With Me, the much-maligned movie prequel made after the show which resolves virtually none of the cliffhangers that remained when the series was canceled. Knowing nothing about the premise other than Mike Patton once covered the theme song and that it was a prequel, I figured it'd be a safe bet to start with it and then embark on the show if I liked what I saw. It was 2002 and my Lynch fandom was still in its early stages, you see. Of course, had I known then that the concept of time is treated very loosely in the otherworldly Black Lodge and that its being chronologically a prequel doesn't mean jack shit in terms of fully understanding what's going on - or, more crucially, that the show itself is a goddamned whodunit and so by watching the murder happen beforehand would undermine the whole mystery aspect of the show - I might have tracked down the series first. But then I wonder if I would have liked the film as much that way around, or if I would've even made it past the midway point of season two at all.
In truth, having not seen the show makes Fire Walk With Me a classic standalone David Lynch film, and easily my favourite. While a lot bears explaining, that's also the case with Lost Highway and Mulhulland Drive and, in the same respect, contributes to its appeal as a film to be dissected and pored over with all the time you thought you'd be spending having sex because, after all, it's your first year in college and you don't assume that the only intermittent play you'll get is from that one recent-divorcee townie wracked with Catholic guilt who you met at such-and-such's house party.
Ah, Gabrielle. I don't want to think too hard about how old she must be now. But I digress.
The genius of Fire Walk With Me is that, from a story perspective, it does actually flow perfectly into the events of the show. The pilot episode and first season, while more conventionally structured and far less intense, very much feel like they're carrying on the story, albeit with a sudden change of hairstyles all round. Knowing who the murderer is while everyone else is trying to work it out makes it a satisfying watch for entirely different reasons than it would've been when originally broadcast. A lot of confusing aspects of the film, mainly the backstories of characters we know nothing about having not seen the show are expanded on, though some aren't; A decade later I remain disappointed that Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Isaac, Harry Dean Stanton and David Bowie's characters, all created for FWWM, never show up in the series. It makes the more bafflingly lazy storylines introduced in the later episodes all the more frustrating. Also the frustrations a lot of the fans of the show must have felt when watching the movie can only be appreciated in hindsight; Looking back it must have been a bit jarring that a lot of the main characters - Ben and Audrey Horne, Sherriff Truman, Josie Packard, Pete Martell et al - don't show up at all. Plus one major character is completely redefined when, in FWWM, they commit a murder of their own, one which they're never held accountable for in the series.
Granted the show does pick up near the end. Were it not for needlessly hammy dialogue and a penchant for pantomimey theatrics, Windom Earle might have had potential as a villain. And the last episode is one of the most amazing things I've seen on television - though it's clearly of its time, nothing has quite matched what Lynch achieved with the Black Lodge sequence. Plus it isn't until the very end that the mythology on which most of FWWM is based is properly introduced. Basically if you threw the whole series into Final Cut, lanced out five or so hours of weak subplots and cheesey moments, you'd have an amazing overall story (surely some geek out there has done this already?).
One of the big white whales for Lynch geeks like me has been the promise that somewhere there exists literally hours of footage shot for FWWM that didn't make it into the final edit, chiefly vignettes involving characters from the series that otherwise don't make an appearance. Various versions of the film's script include these and, overall, it reads like a more cohesive Inland Empire, one bound within the Twin Peaks universe. Omitting the scenes made sense to keep the film about Laura Palmer's battle with the demonic BOB, but for devotees of the show like myself who realistically assumed it wouldn't return, these scenes have been something of a holy grail. Last month, over 11 years after I first became fascinated with the movie (and over twenty for those who were there at the time), this appeared:
I'd always hoped they'd see the light of day but assumed it would be in a dusty, found in a vault somewhere, low-resolution state that most deleted scenes from old movies show up as.
This shit looks fucking amazing.
It's like watching a trailer for an entirely new film in which the main cast have managed to sidestep twenty years of aging (and, in some sad instances, death). And we're being told they've put nearly 90 minutes of it together. I am a happy little cinephile, my friends.
If that weren't enough, something popped up on Twitter last month that got my attention:
What. The actual fuck. Does THAT mean? I asks ya...
If Faith No More start producing new music (a conclusion I don't want to set myself up for the disappointment of not being the case but that a lot of music news outlets have drawn) the same month that the deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me are released...holy shit, we could just call it: 2014 wins. It'll be an amazing day regardless but when I see them on 4th there might very well be some indication of what exactly is going on. In the meantime I'm watching their Twitter feed like a fucking hawk.