Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wayne Coyne Animated Interview..

This weeks episode of PBS's Blank on Blank features an interview of the Flaming Lip's Wayne Coyne. In addition, the short includes Wayne's own drawings, which I used as backgrounds.  Here's a great write up from Rolling Stone. Hope everyone is having a great start to the holiday season!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Oscars Short List

I don't know if you heard, but the Academy Awards animated shorts "short list" was just announced, and my film "Footprints" made it on the list!

Three weeks ago, I attended the screening of all of the eligible animated shorts (56 films), which took place over 2 days, to vote on the films.  The quality this year was quite good.

Some of my favorites were "The Mask of Red Death" by Raul Garcia, "Rocky & Bullwinkle" (a trailer for the feature), "The Ledge-End of Phil from Accounting", and the Pixar short "Lava" - which I really liked (call me sentimental) but the NY audiences laughed at.

They showed my film "Footprints" right after the great Glen Keane's film "Duet" - so I thought my chances were dead in the water. 

To my surprise, last Wednesday night I got the word via e-mail that "Footprints" made it to the short list!  Whoopee!

The interesting situation this year is that I happen to have two Oscar-eligible films, "Footprints" in the animated shorts section, and "Cheatin'" in the animated features category.  And if the award Gods smile on me, I'll have a very rare opportunity to have both films nominated.  I don't think any director - not John Lasseter, Walt Disney or Hayao Miyazaki - has had two films in different categories in the same year.  That would be historic!

So, here's a run-down of the Animated Shorts "short list", and my opinions of the films:

"The Bigger Picture" by Daisy Jacobs.  Very inventive, but too crude for the Academy.

"Coda" by Alan Holly.  Beautiful, but too depressing.

"The Dam Keeper" by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi.  I think this film has a shot for a nomination.

"Duet" by Glen Keane.  A lock for a nomination.

 "Feast" by Patrick Osborne (Disney).  Also a lock for a nomination.

"Footprints" by Bill Plympton.  Who knows?

"Me and My Moulton" by Torill Kove.  Nice story and beautiful colors.  It's a toss-up.

"The Numberlys" by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg.  It's beautiful and smart, it should be nominated.

 "A Single Life" by Joris Oprins.  Frankly, I don't remember this one.

"Symphony No. 42" by Réka Bucsi.  Very funny and clever.  Short, funny takes that are linked together.  I liked it, but it may be too obscure.

Tune in for the big announcement on January 15.  Meanwhile, I'll be praying to the animation gods...

--Bill P.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Milt's dancing Llama...

Here's a Llama to cheer you up on this Friday..  also a reminder to loosen up while animating.. Milt was amazing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beast Transformation..

Pencil texture.. sincere pencil texture.  I miss this. Good luck Glenn for an oscar nom.. my academy colleagues reported that "Duet" played well during the shorts screenings!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Inspiration.. Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas inspiration for the day, enjoy.  Pencil test depot is as addictive as Deja view.




Friday, October 31, 2014

New York Comic Con 2014

We had an extra-special  marketing attraction this year at New York Comic-Con.  As most of you may know, I directed a special 10-page spread for Penthouse magazine (it will be in the December issue, which comes out in November) featuring mega porn star Julia Ann.  Penthouse made up some very collectible posters of Julia Ann, surrounded by my art. 

                                         Julia Ann gave my "Guard Dog" a good home...

We gave them away for free, as promotional items, and they went like hotcakes!  Because Julia Ann has such a great sense of humor and is such a good sport, we had a blast.  And guys were lined up around the corner to meet her.  One of her fans also found a comic book she starred in from 10 years ago - very cool! 

                                 Mega adult film star Julia Ann signing posters promoting her
                                     December Penthouse pictorial, featuring my artwork!

But we also had other great attractions, for the first time at NY Comic Con, I did caricatures for anyone who wanted to see what they'd look like drawn like one of my animated characters, for the paltry fire-sale price of $40.  And those sold like, umm, waffles, and so did the original art from all of my past films, including "Your Face".

You may also recall that I created the new "H" segment in the soon-to-be-released film "ABC's of Death II", and there was a signing at the Magnet Pictures booth, where I autographed posters, along with the great Larry Fessenden and Jen & Sylvia Soska, aka the Twisted Twins.  There was a long line of fun people and I got to catch up with Larry's projects. 

                                With Larry Fessenden and the Soska Sisters in the Magnet booth

I've been going to the San Diego Comic Con for over 10 years and the NY Comic Con for 7 years, and it's interesting to see the contrast between the two events.  The San Diego Con is more old Hollywood, with TV show panels and movie stars, while the NY Con seems more literary, with a lot of publishers and games.   So both are great for my needs, and I love going to both of them. 

If you believe the crowd estimates, it seems like NY Comic Con now has more attendees, but I think the San Diego Comic-Con is still larger in terms of space, since they now have events outside the Convention Center, at nearby hotels and the whole darn Gaslamp District.  But I think they're working on making the San Diego Convention Center bigger so they can increase attendance in coming years.  At the same time, this was the first year that NYCC has taken up the whole Jacob Javits Center, so if it keeps on growing, they're going to have to figure out a solution.
       
                                         Me with most of my booth staff - Michael, Ingrida,
                                                     James, Julia Ann, Sandrine + Lucas

And here are some of the best costumes seen at the convention, photos taken by my booth manager, John Holderried.  For the full gallery, please visit:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/66064297@N00/sets/72157648333599350/

Wow, how about that for a collection of Bats and Cats and Scarecrows, and other people in crazy costumes?  Happy Halloween, everybody!

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dublin Animation Film Festival

As we entered the Dublin Airport passport office, Sandrine and I prepared ourselves for a repeat of what had happened at the U.S. passport office - and as we neared the gruff-looking inspector, the lady in front of us wanted to ask him a question.  He looked at her and said, "Due to the poor financial state of the Irish economy, you'll have to pay 5 euros for the answer."  The lady looked stunned and, after a short pause, the inspector laughed and said he was only kidding.

                                                      At the IADT with Will Becher

Right then, I know I was in a different place - and that's what my experiences at the Dublin Animation Film Festival (DAFF) were all about.  The director of the festival, Fionnghuala O'Neill, put us up at the posh Royal Marine Hotel - and anything we wanted was supplied.  Sandrine and I both held workshops at IADT, a college for animation, to good crowds and the next day I hosted the Irish festival premiere of "Cheatin'" to a large, loving crowd.

                                                         Bill's Master Class at the IADT.

                                                  Sandrine hosting her workshop at IADT.

One of the great events there was the screening of Irish animation.  I was thrilled and amazed to see such wonderful films from young filmmakers. Three films stood out for me - "Wounded" by Helga Kristjana Bjarnadottir, "The Ledge End of Phil (From Accounting)" by Paul O’Muiris, and "Coda" by Alan Holly.

                                           Bill and Lucas checking out the Irish animation

On our last day there, we took a trip to Killkenny ("kill" means area") to visit with my good friends Tomm Moore and Paul Young at Cartoon Saloon.  They just finished their new feature, "Song of the Sea", which is why their studio is half-staffed (about 40 people).  They showed me their new TV show, "Puffin Rock", which is very charming.  I'm so excited to see "Song of the Sea", because the artwork is so glorious.  It opens in the U.S. in the middle of December.

                                                   With Paul Young at Cartoon Saloon

The Dublin Animation Festival is only 3 years old, but already it's bursting with energy and talent, so I highly recommend you enter your films next year to this up-and-coming festival.  If you attend, you'll feel the warmth and generosity of Ireland, and perhaps you'll run into the same crazy immigration officer that we did.

                                                 With the DAFF Award for Best Feature!

I give the festival an "A".

Bill Plympton

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Juxtapoz

I met the great painter Robert Williams about 15 years ago, at a custom car convention in L.A. and I was very impressed that he talked to me.

And just last year, I met him again at the San Diego Comic-Con, where he was a special guest.  I told him how much I love his stuff, and his magazine, Juxtapoz.  He said it's the largest circulated art magazine in the U.S. (bigger than Art Forum or Art in America).  That's pretty cool.

He said I should put my stuff in it, and sure enough, this new October issue of Juxtapoz has an interview with Matthew Modine and me, and they show finished drawings from "Cheatin'", plus some of the storyboards.  I'm really honored to be in Juxtapoz because they show real art by real artists, not that conceptual, artsy-fartsy intellectual masturbatory crap.

No, this is art with a sense of humor, fantasy, storytelling and great draftsmanship.  That's why I love the magazine and why you should pick up a copy at your nearest newstand or art store.

Thanks for your patronage,

Bill P.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Message to Man Festival (Part 3)

Of course, my main purpose at the Message to Man Festival was to serve on the jury, to select the best films in each category from all over the world.

To help, there were 4 judges of extreme talents - Philip Groning, a director and writer from Germany, he made the great documentary "Into Great Silence"; Claire Simon of France, who had 2 films there, "Gare du Nord" and "Human Geography"; Alisher Khamidkhodjaev, who is a famous cinematographer from Russia; and Sylvia Hoeks, a beautiful actress from Holland.





                                                   The judging panel at Message to Man


The screening process was long, but consistently entertaining - the selection of the winners went pretty smoothly.  There was only one conflict, over best short documentary - it was between two excellent films, "La Princess (La Reina)" and "Beach Boy".  They were both excellent, so we decided to split the prize. 

The grand prize went to a feature-length film about Pygmies in the Congo, "Forest of the Dancing Spirits" by Linda Västrik.  It's a wonderful documentary that looks at a remote tribe as a soap opera. 

One curious thing was the fact that during all of my interviews, the questions were about politics.  What did I think about Putin, or the situation in Ukraine?  I told them all the same thing - I was there to show my film "Cheatin'" and talk about animation.  I'm not a student of politics, especially Russian politics, so I wasn't going to make a fool of myself talking about that.

Besides, I'm returning to Russia in December, to a festival in Ekatarinburg, and I don't want my visa to get rejected because I made some anti-Putin remarks!  In fact, I heard that the documentary "Pussy Versus Putin" was ordered to be withdrawn from the festival by the Minister of Culture - so there you go.

--Bill Plympton

Friday, October 17, 2014

Message to Man Festival (Part 2)

Another activity at the Message to Man Festival in St. Petersburg was my Master Class - it took place at the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, and they totally underestimated my draw.  There were seats for about 60-70 people and over 150 showed up!  They were laid out on the floor and standing in the back and on the sides.  Some people didn't even have a view of my films, but they came just to hear me talk.

I've often wondered why I'm so popular in places like Russia and China, when in the U.S. it's so hard for me to fill a cinema. I asked some of the fans where they saw my work, and all of them claim to have seen my stuff on the internet.  So, I may not be making a lot of money in Russia, but I sure have a lot of fans.

That may change in the near future, when all of my shorts and features get released on iTunes in the middle of October.  So hopefully I'll soon enjoy the same recognition in the U.S. that I have in Russia. 

I was very excited to see my old friend Konstantin Bronzit in St. Petersburg - he's one of the greatest Russian animators.  His films "At the Ends of the Earth" and the Oscar-nominated "Lavatory Lovestory" are classics.  We got to hang out and swap animation gossip - apparently Yuriy Norshteyn's not going to finish "The Overcoat" and doesn't even want to talk about it.

                                               With Konstantin Bronzit in St. Petersburg

We did have time for some cultural visits to the giant St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Hermitage - it's called that because czarina Catherine the Great used to go there and became a "hermit", alone with her art.  There we saw some very nice Da Vincis, Michelangelos and Rembrandts. 

We also visited the Russian Museum.  When I was in Moscow a few years ago, I visited the Russian Museum there and was blown away by the pre-Revolutionary historical giant canvasses.  They were meant to tell stories from Russian history and they had such a grasp of storytelling and drama, it was like watching "Gone With the Wind" frozen in oil paint. 

The two artists I liked the most were Vasily Surikov and Mikhail Vrubel.  From their work, I can see where the great animator Alexander Petrov gets his draughtmanship and storytelling skills. 

End of Part 2

Monday, October 13, 2014

Message to Man Festival (Part 1)

If you read my previous blog post about my visit to Kiev, then this one should have some interest for you - it was purely by accident that I arranged sequential film festival visits to two warring countries.  This afforded me the opportunity to see a world crisis from both sides.

I've had many films play in the Message to Man Festival in historic and beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia - so I was delighted to be invited to the festival and be the president of the international jury (they all kidded around by calling me "President Bill Clinton", ha ha).  I was also commissioned to create the festival trailer, to play in front of every film.

                                   My Message to Man trailer playing at the awards ceremony

After I arrived, they put me in the luxurious Kempinski Hotel on one of the wonderful canals that wind throughout the streets of the city.  After the grand opening and lots of vodka, we began the next day at 10 am, watching a hell of a lot of films.  I had planned to work on "Revengeance" storyboards, but the film schedule was so rigorous there was barely time to eat.

I truly enjoyed the programs of film.  This festival is one of the few major festivals that celebrate shorts, animation, documentaries and experimental films.  They even have a category for "mockumentaries", which is one of my favorite genres.

Also on my schedule were three screenings of "Cheatin'", but unfortunately because of my frantic pace I was only able to attend one and half of those.  As you may already know, I like to introduce my film, then take questions after and sign cards for everyone.  Well, the president of the festival demanded that I attend a dinner with him and all of the VIPs, so I had to flake out on handing out the sketches, and the audience was very disappointed.  By the way, the dinner started late and I never got to talk with the festival president.

I would think that the festival organizers would prefer that the audience had a great experience - than have my presence at a silly dinner party.

Continued in Part II, later this week

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Linoleum Film Festival, Kiev

The big news in the headlines over the last few months has been the Russian grab for Crimea, the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, and then the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

Before all this political turmoil, I was invited to attend the Linoleum Animation Festival in Kiev (or "Kyiv").  As the festival neared and the war was really heating up, many friends warned me not to go.

However, at the moment the war seemed to be located on the eastern side of Ukraine, and I figured I would be relatively safe in Kiev, which is more centrally located in the country.  The festival organizers were probably very relieved to see me step off the plane and arrive at the Arts Center, the location of the festival.  I think they took bets on whether I had the guts to make the flight there.

                                                   Outside the Arts Center in Kiev, Ukraine

The festival took place September 17-20, and was organized by Michael Tsarev.  It was originally located in Moscow but they felt that the Ukraine was a much better location.

Other than the flower memorials for fallen demonstrators placed around the famous Mydon Square, there was no physical evidence whatsoever that there was an invasion going on.  However, in talking to all of the people at the festival I could feel a palpable mood of fear and insecurity, since Ukraine has an army about 1/1000 the size of the Russian army - besides, Putin is such a madman (very similar to George W. Bush).

But the festival went on with a great spirit of a brighter animated future.

One of the other judges was the great Russian animator Garri Bardin, who I met 20 years ago.  He's done some of my favorite films.  We chose to give prizes to "Gum" and "The Lost Handkerchief", two very wonderful films.

After a quick tour of the famous "cave" monastery" and the Russian park for World War II ("The Great Patriotic War"), where I saw all the mighty Russian battle weapons, T-34 tanks, and Sturmovick airplanes, then I was whisked to my next stop, St. Petersburg, Russia.

--Bill Plympton

Monday, October 6, 2014

"The Festival", Mexico City

I get numerous invitations to festivals and I find it a very enjoyable way to see the world and meet new people when I go to these fun events.

I was recently invited to a festival in Cuernavaca, Mexico - which seemed like a fun place to go, but I already had a commitment to the Message to Man Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia (my blog on that trip will follow soon), so I had to say no to the festival organizers in Mexico.  However, they still wanted me to go, so Jose Inesta invited me to come to Mexico City 2 weeks earlier, as a promotion for the Mexican Animation Festival in Cuernavaca. 


I could show "CHEATIN'', hold a masterclass and meet with the press - it sounded like fun, so I soon found myself in their fantastic blend of ultra-modern and brick hotel called "The Downtown", situated exactly where that name implies.  This hotel was so exclusive, it only had about 10 rooms, but it was quite a large hotel with a wonderful pool and a bar on the roof.

I started my stay in Mexico City with a tour and a master class at a film school, where I talked to 50 or so very eager students and showed them my new projects.  Then later that night, I was escorted to a huge bunker-like museum of digital arts, underneath a large roundabout traffic plaza.  There I held another master class for about 150 Mexican fans.


The purpose of my visit to Mexico City and the Cuernavaca Festival was to plant the seeds of animation in one of the world's largest cities (estimated population: 22 million).  So I was there to introduce independent animation to the new generation of artists - and hopefully 10 years from now there will be a budding Pixar studio or perhaps a few Mexican Bill Plymptons making great animations about Mexican culture. 

I hope that happens, and I'm looking forward to returning next year to continue my mission.

--Bill Plympton


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New York Comic Con, October 9-12

It's Comic-Con time again, and do we have some cool stuff this year!

Because of Lucas, my son, we've had to make some more room at home.  So all those bins of original animation art that have been taking up room in my apartment had to be disposed of.  But when I started throwing stuff out, my wife said that she wanted to keep some of the art because it was so cool!

Then she said, rather than toss it, I should sell it at the Comic Cons at discount prices!  I thought she was crazy, but I gave it a shot and, much to my surprise, the artwork started selling like the proverbial hotcakes. 

So, I've had my trusted interns go through all of my old art bins to pull stuff that people might like to own, and these are the drawings we will be offering at NYCC at severely discounted prices.

The other cool new attraction will be my availability to do caricatures for anyone who wants to see what they would look like in the drawing style of my animated films.  I offered this in San Diego for $20 each, and we had so much demand that it caused arguments at the booth over who was next in line.  So unfortunately I have to increase the price to a more sane value of $40 per caricature.  But you have to remember that at one point, I was one of the most successful caricature artists in the U.S., so they should be highly valued.

                                       Buy this book from us at NYCC and get a FREE gift! 

I'll also let you in on a little tip - we'll have copies of my Rizzoli book "Independently Animated" for sale at the booth for $40 and I'll usually do a caricature inside the book for anyone who buys one.  And since I charge $40 for a separate drawing, it's a great deal - just buy the $40 book and you get the drawing for free!  So it's like getting $80 worth of stuff for half-price!  

                               We'll have info on how to order your own 3-D printed "Guard Dog"!

So along with the other cool stuff - like art prints from "Cheatin'", the new "Guard Dog" 3-D sculptures, original art, posters and of course my ever-popular DVDs, we're also gonna have something we've never had before...

If you read my previous blog posting about doing a Penthouse pictorial (directing, not posing for one, thank God...) for the December issue, well, Penthouse really loved what I did, so they proposed that the beautiful and sexy Penthouse model, Julia Ann, should make an appearance at our booth!  That's right, you heard me correctly, every day at our booth #2944, we're gonna have one of the sexiest women alive right there, and she and I will be signing very collectible prints of my glorious art for Penthouse magazine. 

                                                               the lovely Julia Ann!

We're not sure of Julia Ann's hours yet, but keep track of our updates, follow me on Twitter (@plymptoons) or just come to our booth at NY Comic Con and get a very sexy piece of art signed by the hot Julia Ann and also yours truly!

See you there - at the Javits Center that is.  For more information and show hours, please visit:
http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bette Davis Animated Interview.. PBS's Blank on Blank series..


We're starting our third season of Blank on Blank, and this weeks animation features Bette Davis. This was a particularly interesting one to draw mostly because of the black and white old cinema feel.  I loved drawing her heavy eyes and aloof attitude.  Also, her words were filled with visual imagery opportunities. These episodes go a lot smoother when the subject speaks in a way that can be illustrated graphically.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!