New York

The 2012 NY International Children’s Film Festival is Coming!

It’s that time of the year yet again, when New York City hosts their International Children’s Film Festival, a fantastic event that brings a decent amount of otherwise obscure animation to the big screen on American shores.

This year’s lineup is quite impressive with the US premiere of A Monster In Paris and a sneak peek at Aardman’s latest, The Pirates!Besides that, there is the usual mix of live-action and animation from around the world, including an impressive shorts schedule. As an added bonus, they will also be screening the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine!

The festival runs from the 2nd to the 25th of March on the weekends, so you really don’t have many excuses for not making it to at least something.

Tickets, showtimes and locations, can all be found on their website.

Hang Out With Indie Animator Bill Plympton and Friends Tomorrow Night

Starting tomorrow night (Friday, May 27th), the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting not one, but two days of Bill Plympton-related screenings.

Friday will see a discussion with Bill and David B. Levy on their new book, Bill Plympton: Independently Animated and will include screenings of some of Bill’s shorts. As a bonus, Bill has promised every audience member a drawing of their very own! He will also be signing his book.

On Saturday (May 28th), there will be screenings of Bill’s feature films, Hair High and Idiots and Angels as well as a preview of the documentary Adventures in Plymptoons.

Below is the press release which contains all the details:

Museum of the Moving Image presents


May 27 – 28, 2011

Bill Plympton may be the only major animator who still hand-draws every single image of his own films. Though his approach to filmmaking may be old-fashioned, his offbeat and inventive artistic sensibility is unique. This two-day program of screenings and discussions celebrates Plympton’s new book, Independently Animated.

All screenings are free with museum admission unless otherwise noted.

Independently Animated: An Evening with Bill Plympton

Friday, May 27, 7:00 p.m.

Screening, discussion, and book signing with Bill Plympton and David Levy

The lavishly illustrated new book Independently Animated: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation, by Bill Plympton and David Levy, published by Rizzoli, is part biography, part retrospective, and part behind-the-scenes look at Bill Plympton’s life and career. It contains hundreds of pieces of art from his films, as well as never-before-seen doodles, drawings, and production notes. To celebrate the publication, the Museum presents a festive evening with a discussion, short films, and live drawing by Plympton, followed by a book signing. Everyone in attendance will receive their own original drawing from Plympton.

Among the highlights: a work-in-progress screening of an exciting new short film, Plympton’s hand-colored restoration of Winsor McCay’s 1921 film The Flying House, a charming film about a husband who turns his house into a flying machine, which bears remarkable similarities to the Pixar film Up; a screening of the popular short film Guard Dog and Guard Dog Jam, the result of an invitation to animators around the world to remake Plympton’s film by each contributing their own remake of one shot from the film.

Tickets: $10 public / Free for Museum members. Members may reserve tickets in advance by calling 718 777 6800.

Adventures in Plymptoons

Saturday, May 28, 3:00 p.m.

Preview screening With Alexia Anastasio in person

Dir. Alexia Anastasio. 2011, 98 mins. Digital projection. This new documentary about animator Bill Plympton follows his path from the many rainy days of a Portland childhood spent indoors drawing to a self-made career as an independent animator. The film includes interviews with family, friends, colleagues, critics, and fans.

Hair High

Saturday, May 28, 5:30 p.m.

Introduced by Bill Plympton

Dir. Bill Plympton. 2004, 78 mins. Digital projection. An outrageous gothic myth from the 1950s, Hair High is the legend of Cherri and Spud, a teenage couple who are murdered on prom night and left for dead at the bottom of Echo Lake. Exactly one year later, their skeletal remains come back to life and they return to the prom for revenge and their justly deserved crowns.

Idiots and Angels

May 28, 7:30 p.m.

Introduced by Bill Plympton

Dir. Bill Plympton. 2009, 78 mins. A misanthropic gun dealer who spouts an unwelcome pair of wings is the antihero of Plympton’s noir-flavored feature, which was entirely hand-drawn, mainly in gray pencil. According to the New York Times, the film, which is entirely without dialogue and has music by Tom Waits, Pink Martini, and others, “defies expectations. It is relentless, and brilliant.”

It’s Comic and Cartoon Time This Weekend in NYC!

Via: MoCCA

Starting tomorrow at 9am and continuing through till Sunday evening, the Lexington Ave Armory in New York City will pay host to the annual festival of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, better known as MoCCA.

I’ve never been before, but from listening (and eavesdropping) on twitter, it seems like its going to be a blast. The exhibitor list has been posted contains many, many artists whose work I am dying to see along with plenty of folks I’ve met before and am looking forward to seeing again. Besides that, there will be literally a ton of art on display and for sale.

I will be there on the Saturday (tomorrow) rambling about chatting to people. If you are about the festival yourself and you happen to see me, come up and say hi. I’ll be the tall fella with glasses wearing the brown cap. Don’t worry, I don’t bite (much) 😛

What Do Animators Get Up To Outside Of Work?

You mean besides hitting the bars? Hahaha, no seriously, animators can do much more than just animate. In fact, animators are often fully fledged artists in their own right! That’s where Too Art 4 TV comes in, it’s an exhibition of artwork by a collection of some very talented animators in the New York area and beyond.

This will be the show’s 5th year and it continues to challenge the perception that animators can only animate. I attended the 3rd exhibit and wrote about it at the time, being somewhat pleasantly surprised at the range and scope of the work on display.

I admit it was kinda fun to learn that animators often have differing tastes when it comes to their personal and professional lives. Of course, that can be true for anyone in the creative field, although the fact that an animator could make awesome robots from odds and ends in his spare time had not entered my mind at all.

Too Art 4 TV 5 begins this Friday (25th of March) at 6:30pm at Erebuni in Brooklyn. The opening evening features a whos who af folks from the animation world, so if you can make it, I highly encourage you to do so.

The exhibition runs until April 23rd. Full details (including an exhibitors list and the gallery’s address) can be found on the website.

How The Online Video Revolution Could Signal A New Era for Animation

Yesterday, it was announced that YouTube/Google had acquired Next New Networks. While this may not be of huge interest to those of you who tend to skip the business pages, it is nonetheless significant and will likely have some bearing on entertainment for years to come.

The reason is outlined in Fred Seibert (the co-founder of NNN) in his blog post announcing the sale. In it, he draws a lot of similarities between the current state of internet broadcasting and the fledgling cable networks back in the early 80s.

The similarities are, in fact, eerily similar. Back then, no-one really know how to make money, the established players were (extremely) wary of the new medium and the content that’s being offered wasn’t all that great (at least back then it wasn’t).

What does all of this have to do with animation? The answer is plain to see. Without cable, it is highly unlikely (impossible even) that we would have seen the explosion in animation that we saw with the three original Nicktoons, followed by the proliferation of creator-driven shows with (I suppose) a bump in animation at the movies too.

The originial Nicktoons didn’t come around for about 10 years after MTV. The reason for this was basically the lack of cable customers, which has a direct effect on the revenue of a network and as we all know, animation ain’t cheap.

Fast forward to today, and there exists a similar situation. People are embracing the internet but overall penetration is still way below cable, content will be king even more so than in cable and last but not least, even more money will be made by those who get it right.

Next New Networks may not be focused solely on animation (although it does broadcast Channel Frederator) but I think it is extremely likely that within 10 years, we will see a channel devoted solely to animation. Joe Murray is off to a great, early start with KaboingTV, which launches next month.

As the optimistic type, I think animation will continue to be a part of the entertainment landscape long after Comcast has been de-throned.

Is It Time for the New York International Children’s Film Festival Already?

Via: GKids

In a matter of fact, yes it is! Well, in less than a month’s time anyway. I mention it now because the pamphlet arrived yesterday with details of all the screenings and events that are going to take place during this wonderful celebration of cinema.

Of course, just because it has the word “children” in the title does not in any way preclude adults from being entertained too. On the contrary, the films are more than suitable for adults and besides, their are plenty of adult-friendly events held during the course of the festival.

Screenings and workshops are only held on the weekends, so if you happen to live in New York City, you have no excuses whatsoever for not making it to at least one screening. For the rest of us, the roster is full of top-notch films (both feature-length and short form). Many of the films showing are receiving their US premiere, which I think says a lot about the gravitas of the festival and its place in the film world.

Besides loads of great movies to see, there are also numerous workshops (on sound and the green screen) running during the festival itself in addition to ones that occur from February through till July that can give budding filmmakers a chance to learn a few of the tricks of the trade. One workshop that happened to jump out at me was the Flash animation one in July being held by the Rauch Brothers, two extremely nice brother who are more than capable of encouraging young minds towards a career in animation.

The festival normally has at least one big, mainstream film to show. Last year it was The Secret of Kells, which was then only an Academy Award-nominee, so there was much excitement in the atmosphere about whether it would triumph at the ceremony the following week.

The year, the main film is Mars Needs Moms, the motion-capture vehicle of Robert Zemeckis. Think what you will about the film (I know I am reserving my thoughts) but it will receive it’s world premiere at the Director’s Guild of America theatre on March 4th.

Last year I made the trip up for the day (in freezing weather and with slush everywhere) and it was well worth the effort. Sure it took up one of my precious, precious Saturdays, but I had a lot of fun and met plenty of interesting people. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to see films that otherwise might not be shown here in the US and I think they directors do a marvelous job of putting it on every year.

What I’d Hoped to Find in New York City

I had something in mind for today’s post. I was in New York City (a fairly large metropolis) and I figured that the easiest thing to do was to blog about something animation-related that I happened to run into.

The last time I was there, you couldn’t turn a corner without being confronted by a Tangled poster. This time around, I am sad to report that the only animation-related thing I discovered during a whole day of going up and down Manhattan was a small ad for Gnomeo and Juliet in a subway carriage. So suffice to say, the combination of a not-quite-so-smart phone and an pretty ugly location for the poster meant that I decided to wait till I got home to blog about it.

Anomaly Approved: Asterisk Animation

Blogging, it’s a tough thing to get right at the best of times, heck, I screw it up on a fairly regular basis. There are a chosen few however that excel at the practise. Richard O’Connor is one of them.

Emanating from my favourite city in the whole wide world (New York), Richard writes for the Asterisk Animation blog. In case you didn’t already know, Asterisk is a studio based in New York that turns out many projects for private clients but also undertakes larger stuff, like the superb work they completed for PBS’ film, The Buddha (featuring the handiwork of everyone’s favourite Australian, Elliot Cowan).

Regular readers will note that Richard is not the sole animator blogger in New York, he’s not even the sole daily animator blogger in New York. He shares that distinction with Michael Sporn, a most unique animator whom I recommended just last month!

That is where the similarities end however. There are many differences between the two that serve to provide some fantastic variety in the New York animation scene. For one, Richards focuses much more on the practicalities of animation.

What I mean by this is that we get some original class notes from Tissa David! That is not all however, Richard also posts plenty of tips and tricks on how to create good animation, not just who we should look up to in the industry. Besides that, there are numerous posts filled with seasoned advice that can only come from someone who has been in the industry and has seen it all. Indeed, a series of posts has been posted on the correct way to cost a project. That is advice that can be hard to come by at the best of times and here it is being given away freely!

Richard also posts recaps from various events held in New York. Seeing as one person cannot make them all, it is nice to have a few blogs from where to read how events went. For those of us who don’t live in the Big Apple, these are a blessing.

Being the blog of an animation studio, it would be a crime if there weren’t plenty of posts about goings on in the place. Richard excels at posting about the ins and outs of working and running a studio. Besides that, he gives boatloads of background on many of the projects the studio works on. Although times are slowly changing, it is still rare to see first hand information about the nuts and bolts of a studio coming out on a regular basis.

An interesting aspect of the Asterisk blog is the numerous posts devoted to The Animator, the former newsletter of the trade union in the city. These offer a fascinating insight to the industry as it was many years ago and serve as a great reminder of how much things have changed. They are well worth a read if you have the time to spare.

Of course it wouldn’t be a blog if there weren’t a few personal posts here and there. Richard supplies the goods with posts on varying topics of interest. A notable pair of posts was centred on anime and how it came to be in this country.

As I said at the start, blogging is hard to do right. Doing it every day and getting it right is even harder. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Asterisk Animation blog is Anomaly Approved.

Recap of The 41st ASIFA-East Festival

Here it is! Photographic proof that I was at the ASIFA-East Festival held this past Sunday. That brown blob of pixels happens to be my cap, which I was thnkfully wearing otherwise you wouldn’t know that was me at all!

What can I say, it was a fantastic evening for all concerned. I arrived extra early in contrast to last year when I crashed through the doors at the last moinute. The house was slightly less than full, but most everyone was in agreement that it being Mother’s Day probably had something to do with that.

The caliber of the films was impressive to say the least. Not only were the student films amazingly creative, and, in the case of “Sam the Super Sticky” by George Thorman, quite hilarious in a silly way. The overall winner in the student category “Down to the Bone” by Peter Ahern, is one of the more interesting student films I’ve seen in recent times with some very interesting characters and a plot that certainly caught everyon’s attention.

The commercial category threw up an interesting video in the Beano’s very own Dennis & Gnasher, which I thought for sure I’d never see again having moved to the other side of the pond. The winner was “Don’t Miss It” by David Cowles and Jeremy Galante for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a fantastic piece that asserts the drama of classical music to great effect.

For the sponsored films, we had en ecelectic selection with education mixed with entertainment. My favourites were the two based on Mo Willem’s books, “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus” and “Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity”. I found both to be highly entertaining even though I’m at an age where I am considered a “mature” student.

For the independent films, there was a great mix of storytelling (such as Elliot Cowan’s “The Thing in the Distance”) as well as techincal fantasies (Tom Gasek’s “Off-Line”) to funny songs like Stephen Neary’s “Let’s Make Out”, which is shown below because I got a big kick out of it.


After all that with an unscheduled break inbetween, it was time for Best in Show, which went to Aaron Hughes and Lisa LaBracio’s “Backwards”. I’m not going to spoil the film (embedded below) but suffice to say it takes what could have been a very formulaic plot and turns it into a truly intersting, complex and surprising piece of storytelling that makes it stand out from the crowd.


Afterwards there was a the after-party where much socializing and debate occurred. Kudos must be given to the organizing committee who lobbied hard for more beer this year and whose efforts were very much appreciated.

It’s sad that such an event comes around only once a year, but thankfully, ASIFA-East puts on many more events throughout the year that I am more than happy to attend. The festival is a celebration of what animation has been made in the previous year and I know for certain that even as I write this, the next round of films are already being made.