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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
INDEPENDENTLY ANIMATED: BILL PLYMPTON
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.
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.”
Via Mike’s website
It’s a tough question that’s not too easy to answer straight off the bat. So let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages and compare them at the end, OK?
Having you own particular style of animation can have many advantages. Although it may sound tough to be unique in a market filled to the brim with creativity, there are always ways to make your own mark. A unique style can serve as a fantastic calling card. For example, look at the picture below. Can you tell who drew it? I bet you can.
It is of course, Bill Plympton. His pencilly style is known throughout the animation world and beyond. The same goes for the likes of Bruce Timm, Matt Groening, John Kricfalusi, David OReilly, etc. etc.
Besides being instantly recogniseable, a particular style can serve you well in your films as well. Arguably Bruce Timm’s style of hard edges and stylized characters and backgrounds served the original Batman: The Animated Series very well and played a significant role in that TV show’s success.
The same goes for the likes of South Park. Yes, it is incredibly crude, but it suits the incredibly crude nature of the show and after so many seasons, it is impossible to imagine it any other way.
Is there anything else a certain style can help you out with? How about merchandising? It’s something that is not necessarily at the forefront of your mind when you create a TV show is it? Or is it? Did you know that Chowder creator C. H. Greenblatt supposedly designed Chowder with a plush toy in mind?
Forget the fact that Cartoon Network never took up the opportunity but think about how easy it would be to turn the round little guy into a toy. Chowder is not a toyetic show in the traditional sense, but it style does lend itself quite well to marketing.
Now the bad news. Can a style hurt your career? Sure, it is easy to become typecast into a particular style although a lot of the time, this could be due to a multitude of other reasons besides the style of your work alone.
In fact, if you think about all the poor animated films out there, the style normally doesn’t even factor into it. Why? Well for one, a lot of poor films attempt to copy successful styles and appear as such, and secondly there are usually even bigger problems with the likes of the story or script that overshadow the style.
As an animator, it is these problems that will be the ones you will have to watch more so than your style. Having said that, there are still plenty of opportunities to go wrong, especially in the are of character design. An area where many non-Disney animated films seemed to fall short (at least according to my mother).
The second danger with having a strong style is that it may go out of fashion. A great example are the fantastic Cartoon Modern TV shows and films put out in the 1950s and early 60s. As fantastic looking as these shorts are now, they apparently could not stay in style forever and by the end of the 1960s, it was extinct in the mainstream.
This is not fault of its own, just the whims of consumer taste. Just bear in mind that if you have a very strong, contemporary feel to your style, you should be prepared to adapt a new one at some point.
Overall, the reasons for adopting your own style far outweigh the disadvantages. Signs of uniqueness and individualism can go a long way in the creative arts (just ask Andy Warhol or Georgia O’Keefe). In animation, developing a particular style should be a priority when it comes to your personal films or indeed your creative pitches to others.
What are your thoughts on a unique animation style?
A real quick post to relay the news that Independently Animated, a whole book dedicated to the amazing career of Bill Plympton launches
today March 22nd. I’m at work so I can’t post a lot but it was co-authored by my good friend David B. Levy so you know it’s a good read.
You can buy it here or, read this great interview with the man himself over on Cool Hunting.
EDIT: I lept before I looked. Woops! Oh well, it’s as good a time as any to post it 🙂
As mentioned previously, Bill Plympton’s first ever feature-length film, Idiots and Angels will begin its theatrical run this Wednesday at the IFC Center. What is unique about this event is that Bill himself has done all the back-breaking hard work on getting his films shown. he is relying on the animation community to spread word of mouth.
The films begins this Wednesday at the IFC Center in Manhattan and Bill will be in attendance for the evening presentations and having met the guy, I can safely say that his company is a pleasure to enjoy.
Seeing as I have not seen the film (yet), here are a selection of links to various interviews and discussions that Bill has done in the run-up to the premiere:
- Cartoon Brew (as always)
- ASIFA-East’s Katie Cropper has a great interview with the man himself
- Bill’s own Scribble Junkie’s blog (co-authored with Pat Smith)
- Line Boil (with screening info for Los Angeles too)
- Bill’s Twitter feed has tons of links to other folk’s chatter about the film
- Michael Sporn has a great (as always) interview with Bill that goes into much detail about the film and its production.
- Both Toon Zone and Animated Views have posted the full press release.
Yes, I mentioned it last week, but in the meantime, Katie Cropper has conducted a great interview with Bill over on ASIFA-East’s Exposure Sheet blog where he gets into some detail about how he eventually came to the conclusion that he had to distribute it himself.
It’s a great interview and I highly encourge you to head over and read it right now!