Great Animation in 2018 Lives at the Local Level

Last week I attended the Sweaty Eyeballs monthly animation festival here in Baltimore and besides imbuing me with a greater degree of motivation, it also reminded me that great animation lives in far more places than on Netflix and TV in general. For one, it lives right on my own doorstep.

Baltimore is not a major centre for animation, but it is the east coast’s quirky, weird equivalent to the west coast’s Portland. Art there is unafraid to be bold, independent, and challenging of the status quo; everything that mainstream art is not. It attracts a crowd that dares to be different and aspires to be something more than a cog in a machine at a large studio.

Some of the animated shorts on display were student works, while others were collaborations with artists in other cities. Yet they were all remarkably different from what you’d see on a TV screen. They had a sense of ‘life’ to them that exhibited a vibrancy and excitement. Even the shortest student films were alternately amusing and stylish. Better yet, they were all different from each other! There was no repetition or slovenly imitation! Every short was a feast for the eyes and gave pause for thought.

What all this served to do was to remind me (as I’m now reminding you) that great animation actually doesn’t reside on the screens we’re been brainwashed into believing they are. Mainstream animated features are not great animation; indie features are. Animated TV shows (even those on Netflix) are not pushing the envelope; shorts on the internet and elsewhere are.

So perhaps consider this a recommendation to check out what’s animated events are happening in your area. You might discover something you’d never see otherwise. And if you can’t make it to a major city, consider starting a screening event of your own; there’s no reason why not in this day and age.

Baltimore Comic Con Recap

Just a couple of thoughts on the 2011 Baltimore Comic Con that took place this weekend. 🙂

  • Overall it was a lot of fun to just walk around and see stuff
  • There’s lots of diversity when it comes to comics. I saw people of all shapes, sizes and colours (the blue guy really stood out for me though)
  • It’s always great to get out and meet the artists in person and to see some of their artwork.
  • Once again, it was a pleasure to see Mike Maihack and to buy the second volume of Cleopatra in Space
  • I supported the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and picked up a copy of Will Eisner’s “New York The Big City
  • I was reminded that anyone who says women and girls aren’t into comic is lying through their teeth.
  • The bootleg DVD industry has to be feeling the pain of illegal downloading too. I mean, $50 for the entire series of Billy and Mandy or Kim Possible must have been a bargain at some point, but now that’s just crazy expensive.
  • The only way it could have been even more enjoyable was if I actually read comics on a regular basis.
  • Oh, and I saw Stan Lee through a gap in the curtains.

A Brilliant Entertainment Museum That’s Right on My Doorstep

I admit I kinda forgot about it as I hadn’t been in a while, but some time ago, we went to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum right in downtown Baltimore. It’s right by the baseball stadium and I was thoroughly surprised by how full it was of all kinds of memorabilia from the entertainment industry over the years (as well as all the comic books).

There was plenty of old (and new) stuff to be seen. So here is just a few of the more interesting things I came across during our visit.

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

Via: Hollywood.com

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.

 

This Weekend: Animated Shorts in Baltimore.

Yes, something animation-related on my own doorstep! Starting tonight, May 6th, the Maryland Film Festival runs until Sunday. Besides loads of great films, there is an animated shorts segment featuring the following:

  • BOTTLE, Kirsten Lepore, 6 mins
  • THE COW WHO WANTED TO BE A HAMBURGER, Bill Plympton, 6 mins
  • ENRIQUE WRECKS THE WORLD, David Chai, 5 mins
  • FAMILY PORTRAIT, Joseph Pierce, 5 mins, UK
  • FLESH COLOR, Masahiko Adachi, 4 mins, Japan
  • HONEYSUCKLE BLUE, Miranda Pfeiffer, 5 mins
  • KIDNAP, Sijia Luo, 4 mins
  • ONCE IT STARTED IT COULD NOT END OTHERWISE, Kelly Sears, 8 mins
  • STANLEY PICKLE, Victoria Mather, 9 mins, UK
  • THIS ROOM IS WHITE, Karen Yasinsky, 5 mins
  • WONDER HOSPITAL, Beomsik Shimbe, 12 mins, Japan
  • X.O. GENESIS, Rowan Wernham, 12 mins, New Zealand

Some names are familiar, some not so familiar so it appears you are in for a treat.Last year featured Elliot Cowan’s masterpiece ‘Brothers in Arms‘ so you know the bar is set quite high.

The shorts will be screened tonight (Friday) at 9:30pm in the Charles Theatre (I’ll be there) and again on Sunday in the Windup Space at 5:00pm. Tickets are $10.

You can find full details of the program as well as complete info on the Maryland Film Festival here.

Why Animators (and You) Need To Create A Network

Last night I attended a networking event put on by Loyola University here in Baltimore, where I currently undertake an MBA course of study. Now I’m not one to readily go out and ‘network’, I can be tremendously shy and nervous at events like these, however, I did find last night a great help insofar as persuading me that I need to attend more events like this (if that makes sense).

The most important lesson I took away from the evening was that relationships can matter a whole lot when it comes to business. Although this is kinda sad in a way, it is the truth, and thankfully, there is plenty you can do about it to help yourself get where you want or need to go.

For animators, creating a professional and personal network should be one of their highest priorities. You’ll likely already have one from school, but it is important to create one outside of that, either from the neighbourhood you live in, organisations like ASIFA or the Animation Guild, a drawing class, or even just the folks you work with.

One of the points that was hammered home last night was to build and maintain relationships. One of the panelists put it like this:

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

That’s a great quote and pretty much sums up how you can determine your place in the labour supply pool. If no-one knows you, then there’s a good chance that you can become isolated professionally and that can have detrimental consequences when it comes time to look for a job or even climb the career ladder.

ASIFA-East President and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, David Levy, often mentions networking over on his blog, Animondays. His reason is more practical than most. As a New Yorker, the tight-knit animation community flourishes because of personal relationships. There are no really large ‘faceless’ corporations operating in the city so a fair amount of the time, he is working directly with an individual or small studio. In such a situation, personal relationships can (and do) count for an awful lot. Animondays has plenty of advice so check it out (if you don not do so already).

Relationships are also something that can slip away easily. I know myself that I am a horrible communicator. If you ever get an e-mail from me, I can come off as whiny, needy, hyperactive or just plain ignorant. If you don’t receive a reply from me, I more than likely neglected to take the 5 seconds to reply.

I know these are things I need to work on, and it can be hard when you’re working or going to school full-time to justify spending an evening or afternoon schmoozing with other people in the field. However, once you create a relationship, it is imperative that you take the small amount of time to maintain it. E-mails now and then, or even the occasional lunch can work wonders.

However, it would seem that the benefits are well worth the time put in, and like a couple of the panelists were saying, the more people who know you’re out of work, the greater the chance they know someone with an open position that needs to be filled.

So quit making excuses for yourself. That TV show or computer game can wait this evening. Head on out there and meet someone in the same boat as yourself! You’ll be surprised at they great kinds of people you’ll come across.