Although I tend to focus more on larger industry matters here on the blog, I’ve an interest in smaller issues as well. For instance, what kind of things affect the independent animation producer. Frshta Mangal currently serves as producer of the animated series Library of Horror. She took the time to answer some of my questions on some of the unique challenges that she’s faced as the project came together.
What would the idyllic animation studio look like, and why does it matter?
Every fan loves to express their devotion to their favourite show, film, or comic. Now more than ever, they have a plethora of ways of doing so too, which wasn’t always the case. Not only is a wide variety of merchandise available, but it isn’t limited to what’s in the toy aisle either. There is however, one area where current merchandise seems to fail, and that’s when it comes to being appropriate for the workplace.
Everyone can create, but should everyone create? Plenty of great ideas never get off the drawing board, and seemingly terrible ones manage to make it all the way to YouTube. Everybody is different of course, but before they even start creating, here’s six questions every creator needs to ask of themselves.
Yesterday, I was treated to a screening of an independent animated feature film called The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead. Written, directed and animated almost single-handedly by Australian Elliot Cowan, it’s a film that I’m still mulling over in my head the next day; a good sign if ever there was one. I’m not going to comment on the film itself just jet, however, the entire project has prompted some questions of my own on independent animated films in general and especially those done by one man bands or very small studios.
- If Elliot can make a feature, why do so many others either fail or never try?
- Is perseverance the key to finishing an animated feature?
- What’s the general gameplan for what happens after the film is made if there even is one?
- What’s the ‘secret sauce’ to making related merchandise that sells?
- Why is financing so ridiculously complicated, and costly for even small budget films?
- Have characters in general become too complex in animated features?
- Should independent films even worry about targeting an audience?
- Are traditional promotional/marketing channels already dead or merely dying?
- Why are international sales such a formidable barrier in the age of the internet?
- Are 35mm prints dead for technological or cost reasons?
Over on the Society for Animation Studies blog, Lauren Carr writes about what she perceives as a crisis in animation studies stemming mainly from a desire by students to simply learn the software tools rather than the technique and theory behind animation. If that’s true, then we are heading for an impending apocalypse in the field from which it will be very difficult to recover.
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In a brief, but all too painful and to-the-point post over on Tumblr, Keith Lango lays out what it means to create animation for mass consumption. It’s an eye-opener but one that could be said to be necessary for many people working in the industry. The bottom line:
Audiences. Do. Not. Care. About. “Quality”. Animation.
It almost hurts to read but it is absolutely something you should if you want to confront a lot of truths about the animation industry as we know it today.
Of course, why should audiences care. They don’t particularly care about how live-action is made because despite their thirst for making-of extras on DVDs, they remain quite ignorant of what really makes films happen. Why should animation be any different?
Female characters often have a tough time with variety. While there is plenty of debate and discussion surrounding the prevalence of stereotypes that send poor messages to viewers, there is something else that is completely overlooked. Dave Pressler ponders the interesting question of why female characters are often forced too look feminine by executives.
This is sort of a question to readers as opposed to a post, but is the animation industry being held back by existing, established, players? Consider the car industry and the fact that it wasn’t a manufacturer that made the biggest breakthrough in driverless cars, it was Google.
Is animation similarly hamstrung by studios already in business? Will real innovation come from outside it?
It’s tricky to say because even so-called innovative studios and internet efforts still rely on talent and their ideas/notions that are solidly rooted in the existing industry.
In other words, where is the animation ‘disrupter’?
Baiting title aside, Mickey Mouse really is more popular than Bugs Bunny. He sells a lot more merchandise, appears in far more places around the world and is lauded as a mascot for the company that operates ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’ Bugs never even got such opportunities and yet as a character, he is far superior to Mickey. Why is that?
Engineers are a funny bunch; it takes one to know one. They operate in a peculiar way, often envisioning something that is perceptible only to them. They also tend to love the art of engineering, and it’s way of solving problems using logical hypotheses and rational guesses. If it sounds boring, it kind of is; all forms of engineering operate at a slow pace. Given that an animated film is a problem of sorts, is it therefore possible to engineer it to succeed?