Thursday, 1 September 2022

Not-so-pale September


A clump of pleasant news to kick the month off with. Firstly I'll be speaking with one of my heroes Joanna Quinn at the Linoleum Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival in a couple weeks. Be sure to pencil this one in as we'll be speaking candidly about all manner of subjects, from navigating the emotional pitfalls that come with industry success to dealing with imposter syndrome, burnout, staying motivated when life gets in the way and the pressures the younger generation face in the current social media climate. Plus you'll be able to ask her questions of your own which is worth the price of admission alone (especially as it's free).
The lecture will be held within the I'M FINE! project and is supported by the British Council Ukraine under the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture and Projector Library. It will take place September 8th 6pm CEST (4pm UK time) and is available internationally, just be sure to register in advance.


On a related note, the second of our I'M FINE! podcast minisodes produced in association with Linoleum. has gone up over on Skwigly. This episode features insights from Catherine Lepage (The Great Malaise), Julia Skala (Sommeregen) and Johnny Kelly (Procrastination). Give it a stream or a download, whatever works for you.

Lastly, in anticipation of the impending new album my most recent Struwwelpeter EP Piggy (originally a Bandcamp exclusive put out on Inauguration Day 2021) has had an expanded release on most major streaming platforms including Spotify, YouTube and Amazon Music.
Be a pal and give 'er a listen 'cause my stats are a shambles at the moment and I need the boost.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Crafty coattail-ridin'

Encounters is gearing up for the return of its physical edition next month. Things have changed a bit over there and I'm no longer involved in the way I'd been the last few years but, rather splendidly, they'll be screening Speed following its inclusion in the 2020 online festival for a special retrospective programme. The film will be screened as part of Strange Hearts, kicking off 11am September 28th at Bristol's Watershed. Come on by, we can split a flapjack.

Two other films I nosed my way into that are getting themselves a repeat showing will be Laura-Beth Cowley's witchy shorts The Gift and Crafty Witch that were part of the 2020 and 2021 edition respectively. You can catch them in The Strength Within programme that screens at 12:30pm on the 29th and again at 4:30pm on the 30th.

Also coming up for Crafty Witch is a screening at this year's edition of Frightfest on Monday August 29th as part of Short Film Showcase 3. The programme starts at 1:30pm in 101 Films Discovery Screen 2 at the Prince Charles Cinema.

It will also be part of a programme from this year's Cardiff Animation Festival who will be taking nine of their accoladed shorts on tour across Wales, starting this Saturday (27th) with a screening at the festival's main venue Chapter at 2:30pm.


On a separate note, it struck me that it's been a little while since I had an actual website. For the first time in about five years I actually had a bit of downtime last month so I took the opportunity to cobble one together. It's kinda basic but then, shucks, so am I. Also managed to finally update my showreel for the first time since 2018, so if you fancy a gander check 'er out below:

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Accentuatin' the positive


A couple new podcasts for ya, both a bit different from the kind of stuff we usually do but definitely worth a listen. In the latest episode of Animation One-To-Ones I'm joined by Cardiff-based animator Lauren Orme, who previously appeared on episodes 80 and 93 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast. In this latest episode we talk about the ways in which she has steered both Cardiff Animation Festival and her animation studio Picl in a more eco-conscious direction while also actively researching practical and practicable solutions for combating the increasingly concerning realities of climate change.

The latest endeavour of Lauren’s is the newly-launched Planet Positive Animation Network to help animation, VFX and games companies and freelancers become environmentally sustainable and help us reach net zero sooner. You can watch the interview above or stream below (or download here).

While the new network will be hosted digitally, CAF has plans to run events enabling members to meet and share ideas in person. CAF is also sharing resources on their website, and is offering a consultancy service for animation companies who want a little more help reaching net zero or becoming environmentally sustainable. 


We've also popped up the first of a four-part series of special podcast minisodes for the I'M FINE! project we've been presenting with the Linoleum Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival. Taken from the Q&A panel sessions that accompany the screening programme, these feature artists sharing their experiences and insights into mental health, burnout and staying motivated as animation filmmakers. In episode 1 we hear from Will Anderson (The Making of Longbird), Anna Mantzaris (Enough) and Margarida Madeira (Playing Death). Stream down there or download right here.

I’M FINE! will be available on the MEGOGO media service during the LINOLEUM festival, which will be held online from 7 to 11 September.  Follow the news of the project on Skwigly, at linoleumfest.com, on the festival’s Instagram profile or at the I’M FINE! Facebook event page.

Monday, 25 July 2022

What goes around...

I've been beavering away at a few projects that will start seeing the light of day soon. The first of which is actually released today - a special tenth anniversary edition of my 2012 graphic novel Throat.

This is the first time the entire, non-serialised version of the story has been in print for a fair few years, and it includes all the bonus content from the three-part editions as well as a brand new afterword that was a fun excuse to revisit and reflect on the project. As with pretty much every version of Throat that's come out, there's a standard black and white edition (dark cover) and a full-colour 'deluxe' edition (light cover), depending on how many shekels you're willing to part with in these tough times. If you're not struggling with the ol' finances and are after something a bit more fancy then you might want to hold tight for a limited edition hardcover that will be coming soon. Not 100% clear on the release date of that one just yet but will pop it up when I know.

In the meantime if your interest is piqued and you want a budget option, you can buy the older three-part set from me directly and cheaper than what they go for at most other outlets. I'll be selling the standard B/W set for £5 and the full-colour for £10 (plus shipping), heck if you want 'em signed I can do that although that'll probably just lower their resale value. If anyone's interested pop me a message on Facebook or Insta and we'll work it out.

Friday, 15 July 2022

Seasons of culture


Some news on the international events front this time around. Earlier in the month I was honoured to be part of this year's preselection team for the Fredrikstad Animation Festival that focuses on new work from the Nordic region, alongside festival director Anders Narverud Moen and Merete Korsberg of Krystallplaneten. Given the curational remit of the festival it proved a uniquely interesting look at the current animation scene from that particular corner of the globe and I'm really excited to share the programme we've been able to put together later on in the summer. All being well I'll be over there again for the event itself, which runs from October 20th-23rd, so give us a shout if you happen to be around.


In the meantime, Skwigly have paired up with the Linoleum Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival for I'M FINE!, a joint cultural project supported by the British Council within the framework of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture. With a focus on mental health, specifically the pernicious issue of burnout, the event will take the form of film screenings curated by Linoleum director Anastasiia Verlinska and Skwigly's Aaron Wood who drafted me in to create some exclusive content with the participating filmmakers that will accompany the programme. We'll also be putting out interview panels as podcasts in the near future, so keep your eyes and ears on the ol' Skwigly podcast feed. As well as I'M FINE! and the accompanying programme Sensitive Content being included as part of Linoleum's online edition via the platform MEGOGO from September 7th-11th, there'll also be some physical screenings starting August 27th at the Chichester International Film Festival.

Obviously with Linoleum being a Ukrainian event the issues presented are especially timely, and while the festival as a whole has been able to continue in spite of unfathomably challenging circumstances they still could do with some help, so if you have any funds to spare you can learn how you can give them a hand here.

Monday, 13 June 2022

That 'monthly roundup' idea didn't pan out, did it?

I've been kinda quiet 'cause, well, shucks, I don't have a whole lot to say these days. I'll rattle off some general updates to keep this site from going into atrophy.


The epic, protracted journey of Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires has reached its conclusion (some five years after I joined the film's post-production team in its latter months) with a suitably-retro home media release. I don't really buy blurays, except for the occasional animation one, but the sheer strength of craft that went into this is a pretty good justification to pick it up and by some accounts I've read this version looks a little nicer than its streaming alternatives.

Another journey's end worth mentioning is my stint with the fine folks at Shy Guys Studios wrapping up after four-and-a-bit years. It's probably the longest I've been at one place (albeit while juggling a ton of other gigs on the side, as my gluttony for punishment dictates) and it led to some really fun projects including graphics and titles for a bunch of TV shows, animation for educational/health films (the one above was a lot of fun) and my most recent film Speed which managed to tick a few more festival selections off my personal wishlist. As with all the best gigs the real highlight was the people I got to meet through it and I hope we'll manage to work alongside one another again down the line.

Elsewhere the world of Emojitown is growing like gangbusters, having just hit a million followers on its main YouTube channel and over 125k on its more recent TikTok channel. I've been working with WildBrain Spark as a consultant and contributing director/producer on its social media shorts which have accrued a stunning 250+ million views since the end of last year. It's a pretty incredible thing to see this kind of response to a brand new IP, so fingers crossed things continue as it's been a fun world to be a part of and occasionally inject my weirdness into.


Things are still active and busy over in the land of Skwigly (I certainly post there a lot more than I do here) with some National Film Board of Canada/Annecy coverage highlights including a chat with Métis filmmaker Terril Calder (Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics) and conversation with multi-Oscar-nominated duo Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby (When the Day Breaks, Wild Life and The Flying Sailor). Also in competition at Annecy is Magical Caresses, an NFB series on demystifying masturbation by Le Clitoris director Lori Malépart-Traversy, who returns to our podcast Intimate Animation to discuss the project. Stream below or download here

Other coverage to check out includes an interview with Hamish Steele who recently adapted his progressive YA graphic novel series Deadendia into a new Netflix show Dead End: Paranormal Park (some brilliantly talented folks worked on this one), Laura-Beth's interview with Sam O'Leary, who did an incredible job paying tribute to the shit-your-pants-scary animated PSAs of yore in the series 7 finale of Inside No. 9 (cheers to Mr. Shearsmith for the RT), a trifecta of interviews for Autism Awareness Month with Jorge R. Gutiérrez, Dani Bowman and Grainne McGuinness courtesy of writer Martyn Warren and new contributor Ryan Gaur's editorial pieces on streaming vs cinema, the upcoming Futurama reboot and the feature film Lightyear.


Ryan joins the latest episode of the Skwigly Animation Podcast with a segment interviewing Lightyear director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman. We also feature a chat between Laura-Beth and director/writer Loren Bouchard, co-director Bernard Derriman and co-writer/producer Nora Smith of The Bob's Burgers Movie. Again, it's streamable below and here's your download link, ya lucky so-and-so.

I think that's all the talk-about-ables for now. This summer might see things get a bit less quiet as there are a bunch of project announcements on the horizon, so, y'know, stay mildly alert.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Roundup: March/April 2022

Who likes podcasts? Well, whether you do or don't, that's literally all I have for you today so get with the programme. 


As I grapple with the grim realisation that I've been podcasting for over a decade I may as well pop up the latest batch for your delectation and/or derision. Firstly we report back from this year's British Animation Awards, which took place at London's BFI South Bank in March. This episode features Steve's exclusive post-ceremony chats with event director Helen Brunsdon and producer Kieran Argo as well as some of the awarded attendees: Joanna Quinn and Les Mills (director and writer of Affairs of the Art, winner of Best Short Film, Writers Award and Best Voice Performance), Jeroen Jaspaert and Matt Tea (Showrunner and director of Pip & Posy, winner of Best Children’s Pre-School), Grant Berry and Dane Winn (directors of The Beast, winner of Best Immersive Animation), Adrian Rhodes (Sound designer of Zog and the Flying Doctors, winner of Best Use of Sound) and Julie Lockhart (producer of Ron’s Gone Wrong, winner of Best Long Form). 


Laura-Beth and I also continue the fourth season of our Intimate Animation podcast series, featuring special guest and recent Oscar-winner Alberto Mielgo (The Windshield Wiper) in our latest episode. Also discussed: More on the British Animation Awards including award wins for previous Intimate Animation guests Renee Zhan, Anna Ginsburg and Caitlin McCarthy, love and sex-themed highlights from Miyu Distribution‘s new YouTube channel Bang Bang, the Manchester Animation Festival's new events strand MAF Presents and the return of Cardiff Animation Festival.


Speaking of CAF, Laura-Beth and I were delighted to be able to muck in with their fantastic third edition and first return to the physical format since they kicked off in 2018. Recordings of the Filmmaker Brunch sessions we hosted have been put out as a two-part podcast special that you can check out now. In Session 1 I speak with Laura-Beth (discussing Crafty Witch), Joanne Fisher (Stache and the Inner Walk), Emlyn Davies (Foo Fighters: Chasing Birds), Joanna Quinn and Les Mills (Affairs of the Art), Daniel Gray (HIDE), Paul O’Flanagan (Memento Mori) and Callum Angel (The Catalyst).


In Session 2 Laura-Beth speaks with Jana Kattan (Checkpoint), Cliona Noonan (Soft Tissue), Alisa Stern and Scott Ampleford (Posted No Hunting), Sacha Beeley (Babeheaven: Craziest Things), Lina Kalcheva (Other Half), Flora Martyr (04111311), Cleo Parker (The Big Top) and Hoching Kwok (Prince Edward). As always many congrats to Lauren, Elys and the incredible Cardiff Animation team for pulling off an incredible event boasting some amazing guest presentations and incomparable musical entertainment. You could tell it gave everyone there a real boost and felt the most 'normal' that anything's felt in a good long while.

Right, I'll be back later. Not sure with what, exactly, but knowing me there's a good chance it'll be some more podcasts.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Roundup: February 2022

My pals at the Manchester Animation Festival have kicked off a new series of year-round social/screening events MAF Presents, which began earlier this month with their first programme They Love Me, They Love Me Not that kindly featured my latest film Speed. If you're up North be sure to keep your eyes on their site and socials for updates on upcoming events as I'm sure you're itching to get back into the swing of that whole human contact thang.


On a similar note, the wonderful Cardiff Animation Nights gang have resumed their in-person events as well as carrying on the online screenings they started during the pandemic, so be sure to follow what they're up to as well. Even more exciting is the return of the Cardiff Animation Festival, whose third edition will take place at their usual Chapter Arts venue April 7th-10th, knock wood, with an online version going through to the 24th. There'll be more specific programme info to come but in the meantime I can confirm I'll be there to host the filmmaker Q&As and Laura-Beth Cowley's recent project Crafty Witch is among the festival's official selection as part of the Shorts 7: After Dark category. Pop it in your schedules!

Also on the events front, the biennial British Animation Awards - on which I mucked in as preselector/jury - will be happening on March 10th at the BFI Southbank with signal events in Bristol, Cardiff, Salford and Stirling if a Thursday night trek to London isn't doable but you still want to check out the festivities. All being well I'll be at the main event so hopefully will see some of y'all in the big smoke; I won't hug you but we can affectionately exchange finger-guns. Otherwise be sure to check out their site for the various viewing and ticket options they have.

Before any of that will be Speed's inclusion as part of Anima Brussels next weekend. Since the announcement of the official selection I now know it will be part of the second Animated Nights block on Saturday, March 5th, kicking off at 10pm in Flagey Studio 4 and 10:30pm at Palace. I'm properly gutted that I won't be able to make it in person as seeing Sunscapades as part of the same programme a couple years ago was an absolute blast, but right now the faff of getting in and out of Belgium would just be too disruptive to make it feasible. Fingers crossed I'll make it back over there before too long.

Following on from last month's UK streaming release of Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, it will be traveling further afield as of March 1st with its arrival on streaming platforms in the US, Canada and Australia. It's a job I have a lot of fond associations with and it's really nice that all the hard work the crew put into it will get some wider visibility. Check out what viewing options are available to you here.

Over on Skwigly I've delved a bit further into the production of the incredible Netflix film The House (the directors of which I interviewed last month) via an interview with Nexus Studios producer/co-founder Charlotte Bavasso. As well as discussing the film itself we also go into the early days of the studio and what the future may hold - it was a real treat to chat with her and I hope you find her insights as inspirational as I did.

Having been out of print for a little while I'm pleased to see that We Still Care A Lot, the tribute album I contributed to in honour of the late Chuck Mosley, has finally gotten itself a digital release. You can check out the full album over on Bandcamp.

Not a whole bunch else I can explicitly talk about but if you happen to be one of those trendy youngsters who lurk about on TikTok you might want to go ahead and follow this little IP that's on the grow. The keen of ear may even detect a familiar vocal performance in the video below:


Finally, these pipes have gone viral.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Roundup: January 2022

Been a quiet-ish start to 2022 as far as things I can publicly mention, so as we reach the end of the month here's a few bits and pieces to throw into the ol' void in one go.


Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
, the insane stop-mo feature I did some bits on a few years ago, is finally being released to buy or rent this coming Monday after last year's brief theatrical run. This is just online and in the UK for now but knock wood there'll be some physical/international release updates soon.

The House, one of the projects I was looking forward to the most in 2022, had the good manners to be released right at the beginning of the year, so I've rather gleefully devoted some time to giving it coverage. Head over to Skwigly and have a read of my review and interview with the incomparably gifted directors Emma De Swaef, Marc James RoelsNiki Lindroth von Bahr and Paloma Baeza. As with Chuck, this boasts some true stop-motion greats among its crew, although tonally it's miles away. Definitely give it a watch if you get a sec.


Going back to something I worked on (in a small sense) - Laura-Beth Cowley's Crafty Witch has a couple more screenings coming up. Firstly the excellent Berlin festival British Shorts (who have been gracious enough to screen my films Klementhro, Sunscapades and Speed in the past) will be showing it tomorrow at two venues - 8pm at City Kino Wedding and 8:15pm at Sputnik Kino. Laura-Beth also spoke with culture blog The New Current about making the film - have a read here.


Another Berlin outing for the film will be on Saturday, February 5th at the Final Girls Berlin festival. Crafty Witch will be screening as part of the 11pm Shorts 6: Midnight programme, again at City Kino Wedding. Grab your tickets here.