Recap of the 43rd ASIFA-East Awards Ceremony

Last night (Sunday), ASIFA-East held their 43rd annual awards ceremony at the New School’s Tischman Auditorium. As per usual it was a great night with lots upon lots of lovely animation followed by much talking and socialising afterwards.

I thought the standard was quite high this year, with a particularly strong student section that was nicely book-ended by the experimental films, one of which, Old Man by Leah Shore, seems to be getting quite the praise.

My two favourites were Test Train by Brandon Denmark, which is sadly not online yet but development clips can be seen in Brandon’s reel. As a short, it mixed a rather dark plot with a suitably dark design all wrapped up in a soundtrack that was more than appropriate.

The other film that I really liked (and is online – see below) is Orbis Park by Andrew Kaiko which won the tie for Excellence in Design with The Girl and The Fox. Besides a great, humourous story line, it is a very well designed short. Great layouts and colours but above all a superb character design that ticks all the right marks.

Otherwise it was a very fun night with much animation discussions taking place with many friends both old and new. I was also congratulated no less than three times for my winning film, which was most unfortunate as the truth was far from reality in that I am apparently the doppelganger of Mike Rauch erstwhile half of the Rauch Bros. who won best in show for their Storycorps film John & Joe.

I can’t wait till next year. 🙂

TONIGHT IN NYC: It’s The 2011 ASIFA-East Animation Art Auction!

Apologies for the late notice, but while this is an event that I normally attend and willingly part with my hard earned cash in support of a good cause, I unfortunately have a final presentation in class tonight. Seeing as a good chunk of my final grade (and therefore the tuition I coughed up for it) depends on it, I won’t be making the trek to New York this time.

However, that should not preclude you in the slightest from swinging by the SVA on 23rd St (between 2nd and 3rd) at 7pm and heading on up to the ampitheatre and parting with your hard earned cash in exchange for some great animation art.

For a full list of the lots up for bid as well as pictures of everything, visit the aNYmator blog.

ASIFA-East Animation Art Auction
7:00 pm SVA Amphitheatre
209 E. 23rd Street, 3rd Floor

People I Respect: David B. Levy

This is the fourth in a series of posts in which I explain why I respect certain people in the animation industry and why you should do the same.

 Via: the ASIFA-East aNYmator

A long time ago (OK, not that long ago) I met David B. Levy. I’d never heard of him before, I wasn’t aware of any of his work and I certainly was aware that he was the President of ASIFA-East. Suffice to say, after that evening I was!

David is one the finest ambassadors that the New York animation scene has today and is absolutely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Such praise is not faint. Who in their right mind would give an Irish civil engineer the time of day let alone many opportunities to liaise with people inside the industry?

Being a New Yorker, David is immensely proud to be part of the local animation scene and can often be seen cheer leading for the cause over on his blog, Animondays.

It could be argued that he does this only in his capacity as President, but such an argument would be a very shallow one. David truly believes in the creative skill of the local animation community and will often champion the many success it has had and the numerous contributions it has made to animation in general over the years.

Besides all of this, David is also a bestselling author of three books that have won praise from all over the industry for their well-written and personal approach to working in the industry.

For all of this and much, much more that I am far to tired to write about (it;s 8:25 p.m. here at the moment and I have a midnight Harry Potter screening to go to), David B. Levy is someone I respect.

The Maryland Film Fest, Cars 2 Posters & Michael Sporn on the ASIFA-East Festival

MD Film Fest

Last night was a lot of fun down at the Charles Theater in Baltimore. The screening was packed and there was lots of top quality animation to be seen along with plenty of laughs and applause.

The shorts will be screened again on Sunday evening at 5pm in case you missed them.

Cars 2 Posters


As much as I have already discussed the ones created by Eric Tan, the latest batch (such as above) truly boggle the mind. For one of the top creative companies on the planet to turn out/approve such banal works is most disappointing. Especially when the concern things like cars, objects elevated to the status of art a long time ago.

Besides that, the ‘puns’ for titles make for almost gut-wrenching reading. They are neither funny nor appropriate.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say we’re headed for Pixar’s first major misstep. You heard it here first.

Michael Sporn on the ASIFA-East Festival

Last week the ASIFA-East Festival took place in New York. I wasn’t there for personal reasons but I read about the winners the following day. Seeing as I had a final exam on Tuesday, I congratulated a few winners and carried on with my life.

However, it seems that a heated discussion blew up on Cartoon Brew after the list of winners were posted. Sometimes negativity can cloud the debate and spoil it for everyone. Which is exactly what happened here.

Michael Sporn has posted a sage response on his blog that is the best I’ve read. If you are in doubt about the society or its voting procedures, you should read it. I’m glad I read it first before the Brew comments.


The 42nd ASIFA-East Aniamtion Festival is Just Around the Corner!


42nd ASIFA-East Fest PostcardVia: The ASIFA-East Exposure Sheet

In fact it’s even closer than that, it’s standing just across the street!

Yes, this Sunday (May 1st) plays host to the 42nd annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival in New York City. If you are not familiar with it, it’s the chapter’s annual awards show although it is much more than simply handing out glittering prizes.

It’s been three (!) years since I first attended and the evening has been an absolute pleasure every time. The festival is a fine display of talent from the East Cost and beyond and with such a wide variety of categories, the films are a joy to watch and provide for plenty of entertainment throughout the evening. If you aren’t convinced (shame on you!) check out the signal film for this year’s festival produced by Dan Meth:

Besides getting to see some lovely films, there is also the opportunity to meet lots of really talented people, or as Mr. Warburton would call them, soooooooper talented people. The evening is a superb chance to meet and greet (and explain to everyone why an Irish civil engineer of all people would attend).

Things kick off this Sunday (May 1st) at the Tischman Auditorium in The New School at 6pm. If you love animation and live near New York, you really don’t have any excuse for not being there.

The 42nd ASIFA-East Festival.
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
Tishman Auditorium
The New School
66 West 12th Street
Party/Reception to follow
Admission: Free!

Recap of the 2010 ASIFA-East Art Auction

I’m a day late and much more than a dollar short with my recap of the this fantastic, bi-annual event that helps raise money for ASIFA-East. I do have a very good excuse, however, in that I didn’t get in the door until half two on Tuesday morning (it was a long bus ride in case you were wondering) and I had to revise for a test in the evening, so that meant blogging took the back seat for a day.

But enough beating about the bush and onto the auction itself, which was ably hosted by Mr. Justin Simonich who was assisted by the lovely Linda Beck.

Animators are involved in the creation of some truly fantastic pieces of artwork, be it the actual cels used in the cartoon, development art, backgrounds, etc, etc. Sometimes these wonderful items get mothballed in storage, sometimes they get auctioned off to the highest bidder and sometimes the artists themselves get to keep them. Thankfully, the auction has those and much, much more.

FanBoy and ChumChum sketch by Eric Robles

Besides your usual animation cels (of which I managed to acquire one, from Mark Kausler and Greg Ford’s short “It’s the Cat”), there was also plenty of comics, T-shirts, sketches, original paintings, development sketches and posters, all singed for posterity of course and many included little doodles (these people do draw for a living after all).

Fish Hooks sketch by Noah Z. Jones

Like any good buyer at an auction, I sussed out the lots and made note of which ones I planned to bid on. Of course I didn’t buy all of them (I would’ve needed a cart to take it all back) and besides, I didn’t want to be selfish. Of the items I did not win, the one I am probably most disappointed with is that above, the sketch by Noah Z. Jones of his new TV show, Fish Hooks. It’s pencilly look would’ve gone great with the white walls in my apartment. The second one I lost is below and is pretty self-explanatory. Not only is it from Sesame Street, it’s also signed by Big Bird himself!

Sesame Street picture book art.

There were plenty of laughs to be had and Mr. Warburton gave new meaning to the term “phoning it in” when he made a passionate plea on behalf of his lot that would better that of any politician (his assertion that $55 was just an ugly number to bid extracted plenty of laughter).

All in all, it was a great evening. The only downside was the contorted ride home, when I had to somehow get some sleep but also prevent my purchases from crashing to the floor. The auction is a great event that I’m glad I make the effort to attend. There are always some great art to be bought and the crowd is jovial. It certainly made my Monday a lot better than it could’ve been!

UPDATE: For the super-official recap of the event, head on over to The Exposure Sheet to see what Emmett Goodman has to say.

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.

The ASIFA-East Festival is Tomorrow Night!

This is perhaps my favourite event of the year which makes it all the harder to believe that it’s rolled around again already.

ASIFA-East as we all know and love, is the New York/North-East branch of ASIFA, the international animation society whose actual name is French. Seeing as I did German in school, we’ll move right along. The group is comprised of mainly of animators and a few producers along with one civil engineer (guess who that is) and besides holding monthly meetings, also organize events from September to June that represent the entire animation spectrum, from student films to commercial movies and everything inbetween.

Tomorrow’s festival isn’t so much the culmination of the past year but more a celebration of the New York animation scene, which has it’s one distinct flavour far removed from Burbank. Awards will be handed out for student films, individual films, commercial films both over and under 2 minutes as well as some outstanding achievement awards.

Last year was the first year I attended and besides asking Amid Amidi whether there was assigned seating, I think I barely said a word to anyone. Of course I almost missed the start having been delayed on the New Jersey Turnpike for well over an hour. Besides the usual faces, there is a mix of folks from various related organizations, faculty from the numerous fine animation schools in the NY area, studio heads, students themselves and one civil engineer (guess who that is).

After the actual event, where people receive their awards and we see their films, there is the official reception which serves as a fantastic meet and greet for all concerned. After that comes the unofficial reception at the local pub where even more conversations occur although perhaps less on an animated subject of conversation.

I mention all of this because I am sincerely looking forward to this year’s event. Besides meeting friends old and new, it’s also an opportunity to talk about a subject I’m passionate about with people whose passion it is.

If you are in the New York area and so not attend, you are missing out on a truly fantastic evening full of animation and companionship.

The 41st ASIFA-East Animation Festival,
Sunday, May 9th,
Tishman Auditorium,
The New School,
66 West 12th St,
Admission: FREE!

PS I’ll hopefully have a full recount of the evening in full early next week.