Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Benji Davies with bonus rant

Here is a quick snatch from the babies carriage, The Grotlyn by Benji Davies. I know I have been on a British tea and crumpets kick lately but they have such great on-line access and support of their animators. Mind you that the funding for animation isn't what it used to be in the U.K. but it seems though they have kept the foot on the ball and continued with co-op schemes such as Animators in Residence. This is how the Grotlyn got made with the partnership of StudioAKA and A.I.R. which is sponsored by the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and Channel 4. (Aside) you can see former A.I.R animator Ali Taylor's short, Puleng, in the Super Short Festival posting below. These types of partnerships should be something the CBC and the NFB should be looking at to emulate and support the growing Canadian animation talent stuck in limbo. I realize that they have that Maple Shorts thing and the Hothouse scheme respectively but the results of both of these have been colder than winters of my youth. It is time we really address the issue of jobs, support and independent distribution here that can meet the needs of the talent we have cultivated for the last 20 years. I know there are groups like the Quickdraw Animation Society, studios like Global Mechanic and media exposure and support through BRAVO! but the fact of the matter is that it stills falls too short. Rant rant rant...anyway, I will stop for now because the issue is too big to address on this blog format of mine. Damn, I need a vacay...oh yeah I am going on one. Viva Habana! Don't worry it is nothing a Mojito can't help with:)

Cath Elliott

Even though I haven't been posting that much the last couple of weeks, I have been looking at alot of animation on the net. Festivals are in full burning steam ahead in the eyes as you try and make it through the marathon screening crawl. From Annecy to Zagreb the picks are in and out for an eye orgy of independent sweat and creative juice flow. I know this blog is like that annoying flickering hair at the top corner of the film screen but if you have gone to a fest and have some highlights that you want to share, please feel free to give me a hoot and howler. So, here is me hoot and howler of someone's work I saw at a festival a few years back and have happily tripped on the murder weapon to land at the scene of the crime. Cath Elliott has been a suspect on the festival scene since graduating from the RCA and setting up her own company, Little Giant Pictures. I saw her film, Scientification, which you can view on her site along with many others. I stumbled onto another of her films, Inside Out, @ the Super Shorts Film Festival. There on the festival site you can watch a multitude of animated films, go here and choose animation category. There are too many bodies to i.d. but my highlights are Siri Melchior, Max Hattler, Marc Craste, Richard James, Ali Taylor and Ignacio Ferreras!!! Before you do that be sure to also check out Cath's illustrations, still wet from her blood tipped pen. I really like her scratch of the tooth and nail explorations of her films. Now, go and line up against the wall and hold the stuttering numbers in front of you and smile for the camera. I know your gonna be all over this one Ben!

Cordell Barker

Well, since I have already snitted about Richard Condie , we might as well let the whole bogie out of the nasal passage and throw in the cat. Cordell Barker was another integral fly in the ointment of the Manitoba NFB animation spray-unit. His great interpretation of the Harry S. Miller song, The Cat Came Back (via YouTube), was both an instant classic and an Oscar nominee in 1989. With the success of this film Cordell shifted into the commercial realm but in 2001 he proved to still be coming back around with Strange Invaders, garnering him another Oscar nod. View a clip of it here. Although, Cordell's style bears a strong handed influence from Richard Condie and even Paul Driesen, the humour is all his own! You can let loose the Dogs of War but the Cat will always wear them down in the End!
(thanx Alambique)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Gaelle Denis

One director/animator that I have failed to mention thus far is Gaelle Denis. She is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Art (UK) and her film City Paradise, her first professional film, has been winning festivals all over the world. It is a nice mix of live action and digital fx to create a world in between the rain. She tells a story of awkward discovery into a secret world below the cloud laden metropolis of London. Gaelle was part of Ars Electronica last year and you can view via webcast in Forum III her talk that she gave there. Too bad my brain is still lethargic from all the food and chocolate from the weekend to really give Gaelle the write up she deserves. A delicious film full of feature length potential and I look forward to her next project. I am wishing that I could go to Annecy this year but I think the only way I will be able to is to smack my head whilst going swimming. Who knows maybe I'll learn french in the process.

Friday, April 14, 2006

David Lea

Z'ho me lil' starlings! Stab your sharp beaks into the flesh of this music video by David Lea, Heartstopper for Emiliana Torrini. Take the strips of loss and despair and build a nest by the seaside so you can watch the delicious puppet animation. David Lea is a director for Passion Pictures, which is a British production cave inhabited by a clan of hunter-gatherer type of animators that re-invent the wheel of 24fps. He has done music videos for Radiohead and the Offspring as well as adverts for Greenpeace. You can watch the Heartstopper video and his other works by navigating the Passion Pictures site...Animation: Directors: David Lea. Also, check out this early video, Shadow Teaser and I think he also worked on the cool Demestos ad (via boards). So peck away until only the bones are left.
And I would like to say Happy B-day to the Monkeyboy. Arse, feck, drink and grrls! Here's to despair.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

There is HELLP! right in your BackPocket

Speaking of damned souls in the maw of hell...here is a nice lil' CG short about a demon trying to cool off in the thermal nether regions. Hellp! is a product of the Vinton Studio scheme, Project:Backpocket, for a team of students to create (like Gods) there very own world from start to 'Ragnorok' ending. In this Pantheonic case it is Kishore Vijay, Sean Danyi, Ryan Yokley, Jessica Vliet, Andrea Shear, Jesus Chambrot, Benjamin Vu and Josh Parpan. Phew! Hot hot. The opening sequence by Josh Parpan will singe your nether regions with it's beautiful graphic style. Amid is right when he remarks about not worrying about 2D animation when there is people like Josh around. I also like the stylized 3D character design and the Burtonesque feel of this short film. Though the story is not sinful enough for me, it is a great example of this type of production model that should be emulated more here in North America. With free (will) reign and support students learn about the follies of film production under the supervision of the Studio. Let's see if Laika Entertainment will remember it's own footsteps or fall from grace.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Al Columbia

Today, I thought I would share a small bloody morsel of Al Columbia. Al Columbia is one of those artists whose output is relegated to out-patient status but whose influence carries weight behind his scalpel sharp pen. A mix of David Lynch meets the Fleischers describes his dark hybrid world. I found his work in Blab and that cool defunct anthology Zero Zero in which I scoured every cadavre to find every known strip of his work. His comics are like intentially sticking your hand in acid and then finger painting. His Biological Show comic were and still are a huge influence on me. They are still around so you should keep an eye out for them and his graphic novel Doghead. Doghead is a Bill Sienkiewicz inspired piece that shows the influence of Al's mentor but with stories like "I Was Killing When Killing Wasn't Cool" for Zero Zero #4 (via Comics Reporter) you can see his style come into it's own and show the slow unfolding darkness that makes Al one of the best. I don't bemoan his skant output or gnash my teeth for another Biological Show. Just go out and find what you can of his work and hope that he gets over whatever it is that makes that ticking in the head come back and put out another story for us to bury our blood soaked faces in to.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ottawa International Animation Festival

After dealing with exploding water tanks and herding the hydrocephalic animals back off the ark, we can get back to the more important stuff...cartoons. And what a better way than to end the week in announcing the apocalyptical bed wetting event, the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2006! They are celebrating their 30th anniversary of screening independent celluloid convulsions for our viewing pleasure. This year's OIAF is coming out of the starting blocks faster than damned souls into the maw of hell with the fiendish poster designed by Gary Baseman (above) and the planned retrospectives of Bob Clampett, Bruno Bozzetto, John Straiton, Jeff Scher and Konstantin Bronzit. Also, if you think your short film is sinful enough to make it into this animated orgy of Boschian proportion, than fill out the entry form here ,sacrifice two virgins and call me in the morning.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Kevin Titzer

Here is another cool link sent in by Fishbaitkate! Behold Kevin Titzer!! Very Nice.
Check out his MySpace and his Flickr accounts also. Now, I must go to bed and dream of scary puppets.

Toronto Animated Image Society

Well, I don't know how new their new site is but go and check out the new-to-me TAIS website. I see not only are they sponsoring and giving a workshop for the Steve Woloshen retrospective but they are having Drew Lightfoot give a stop-motion workshop at the end of the month. The TAIS is a very cool non-profit co-op that is starting to become Ontario's answer to the Calgary's Quickdraw Animation Sociey. If you live in the Toronto area I would definately recommend joining the ranks and using the animation facilities that they can provide you. Just for the visiting lecture series alone it is worth the membership. Check out the monthly events and GO!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Steve Woloshen live @ Ontario Cinematheque

This Wednesday, April 5th at the Ontario Cinematheque there will be a retrospective of Steve Woloshen films. Here are a few thoughts about this relatively unknown Canadian animator: Firstly, Steve is a true independent animator as he is one of the few artists that funds his art through his day job. No grants or funding bodies dictate when or where his ideas can be created. With that said, the medium in which he chooses to experiment with is scratch film abstract animation. I can almost hear the groaning. Well, it is almost laughable in Canada at least not to be forced to watch Norman McLaren films ad nauseum like some Clockwork Orange rehab clinic for the narratively depraved. Blinkity Blank becomes Blankity Blank for alot of students! Maybe, this is why Bill Plympton poked fun at abstract animation film at Annecy last year. I dunno. We have to be able to laugh a little at the absurdity in which people view abstract animation. I mean Bill has been riding the same style and humor train for his whole blankity blank career. Rebuttal aside Steve Woloshen along with Richard Reeves, Barbel Neubauer,Stephanie Maxwell and many others are taking scratch film to a new generation of animators. One of the biggest hurdles for abstract animation as Paul Bush (who uses scratch film technique for his film, The Albatross) remarks, is that the images become secondary to the music/soundtrack, i.e. free jazz. I agree with this statement as the music itself is often experimental and therefore another hurdle for the viewer to leap over. This is illustrated by the fact that Steve's latest film Curse of the Voodoo Child was well received at last years OIAF and I think that is part because of the familiarity of the song within pop culture. Juxtapose this with Chris Hinton's, Cnote, as it's energy and exuberance of image in relation to the jazz soundtrack is a two-fold barrier in front of the viewer. By this I DO NOT at all mean to imply Chris's work is subpar but I am just trying to give an access point in which people can see the mark as the MARK. For more, see the Pimp...Scratch here. I have digressed too much here. Go and see Steve Woloshen and his films at the Cinematheque and get synced to the experimental stylings of this cool independent animator.