Friday, June 24, 2016

Watch this space...

Usually, at this time of year I'd be writing my recap of the Annecy Festival, telling you all what a great time I had at one of my favorite festivals.  Sorry, not this year, I didn't have a film in that festival, but I have high hopes for "Revengeance" being able to participate next time! 

But it's officially summer now, and a lot of other great things ARE going on this time of year.  First we've got the great big San Diego Comic-Con, which this year takes place July 20-24.  It's later this year than usual, my office manager tells me that it's got something to do with baseball - the convention center and Petco Park share parking garages, so the convention can only take place while the Padres are on a road trip.  Weird, huh?  That's San Diego for you.


Take it from a guy who's got THIS many conventions under his belt - and I hear that the stack of badges he has at home is even larger!  Anyway, we're not supposed to announce the details of Comic-Con until two weeks before - but I can tell you that there WILL be a "Revengeance" panel, both Jim Lujan and I will be there, we'll have much longer clips from our new "Revengeance" feature and a few cast members on hand, and I'll announce the date and time here as soon as I can.  My film "The Loneliest Stoplight" will also be playing in the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival, again, I'll announce the date and time when we get closer to the event.  Most of the time, I'll be at our usual booth, which you can find in the middle of all the madness by using this handy photo:

                                         This is the view from the mezzanine, facing north.
                      (The main entrances to the large convention floor are at the back of the photo)
After Comic-Con, I'll be in Portland, OR for a week, just to visit family and friends, and then in August, I'll be going to France for a week, to visit my wife's family.  No screenings planned on these trips (yet), for once these are genuine vacation trips! 

Also this summer, you can catch my short film "The Loneliest Stoplight" playing at a bunch of film festivals, like these:

L'Hybride / Cine-Barbecue, Lille, France, June 24-25
Animator Festival, Poznan, Poland, July 10-16
Fantasia Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 14-August 2
Drunken Film Festival, various pubs around the U.K., July 25-30
Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, MI, July 26-31
KloosterKino / Bouwlab, Nijmegen, Netherlands, August 20
World Festival of Animated Film, Varna, Bulgaria, September 7-11

Please check these festival's web-pages for exact screening dates and times.  Get yourself out to a comic-con or a film festival near you and start having a good time!  Enjoy the summer, everyone!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, June 20, 2016

End of "Revengeance" production

I'm now in the middle of a post-partum depression.  I've been working on "Revengeance" now for almost three years, and today I handed in the final drawings for the film, and I'm feeling depressed - because the project was so much fun to work on and it was so intensive, there's an emptiness now when I don't have to get up at 5:30 am and draw all day.  I feel like my baby is out of my hands and my life is somewhat meaningless.

So far, the response from the people who've seen "Revengeance" (the rough cut) has been phenomenal.  I don't want to get TOO excited, but it looks like this may be one of my best productions. 

Now comes the more difficult apart, finding a buyer or distributor for the film.  And that entails doing a marketing campaign (posters, trailers, post cards and press kits) and trying to get the film into as many important festivals as possible.  Festivals are where hungry buyers and press people are looking for the next hit. 

Also, Jim Lujan and I will be at San Diego Comic-Con with a booth and panel to promote the film, we'll show some longer clips this time, and we'll have a few cast members on hand to talk about doing the voices.  Stay tuned for more details. 

I'll also keep you updated on the progress of our journey to get "Revengeance" to as many outlets as possible. 

But as for my post-partum depression - I think I have a new "bun in the oven", I've just started work on my latest "Guard Dog" short, "Cop Dog", where our Oscar-nominated hero works at an airport, sniffing for drugs hidden in luggage.  You just know that's not going to end pretty. 

Thanks for your interest -

Bill Plympton

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Revengeance" wrap party!

OK, we may not be completely finished with production on "Revengeance", there are still some minor tweaks to be made to the film here and there, but we finished a submission cut for entering festivals, so we got as many of the interns and staff members together as we could, and had a wrap party over at the Frying Pan.



If you've never been to the Frying Pan, it's a bar on a railroad barge, next to a historic Coast Guard lightship, over on Pier 66 on the west side of Manhattan.  Maybe it's not the best place to go for drinks if you're vulnerable to seasickness, but it's a fun place and you just can't beat the view of the Hudson River. 


We went there on a Monday, so it wouldn't be as crowded as, say, a Friday or a Saturday.  They let us sit up on the raised platform, which made it a bit of a challenge to climb the stairs with drinks.  We filled up a few tables with people and got ourselves some beers and food.



Wow, what a turnout!  I think we had about three sets of interns show up, so for some people it was their first chance to meet nearly everyone else who worked on the film!  I had to leave at some point and take Lucas home, but I heard that when my crew got off the boat, they hung out in the grass by the river and watched the sun set, I guess the evening was so much fun that nobody wanted it to end!



My thanks to the Frying Pan for hosting our wrap party, and to everyone who came out to have a few drinks!  We'll make another reservation there when we finish the next film!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Hitler's Folly" premiere

Whew, it's over!  And I survived!  I'm writing this on the day after my world premiere of "Hitler's Folly" at the prestigious SVA Theatre.  And the reaction was terrific - no assaults, or verbal abuse, only laughter and applause.

In my early career as an illustrator and cartoonist, I loved to push the limits of good taste, and try to shock people.  I found that my cartoons were much more effective if they were scandalous.  At the same time, I was working for National Lampoon and that was their in-house style, to shock and disturb.  In fact, they once published a book of cartoons called "Hitler's Favorite Cartoons".

I loved their style of humor - after all, I grew up enjoying Charles Addams' cartoons, they were always irreverent, too.

So, when I got the idea for "Hitler's Folly", a mockumentary about an alternate world, where Hitler got accepted into the art academy and ends up being a very successful cartoonist, I thought, "This is perfect for me!"  A few years ago, I made a very popular short film called "Santa, the Fascist Years", which took a much-loved character, Santa Claus, and turned him into an evil dictator.

For "Hitler's Folly", I switched the roles and had an evil dictator become a kind, lovable artist.  I find a lot of humor in taking something iconic and turning it into its opposite.  It's a form of ironic humor.

But a few people who saw the rough cut of "Hitler's Folly" expressed fears that my career would be over and the Jewish Defense League would rough me up at the screening.  So I didn't know what to expect as the movie-goers filed into the SVA Theatre to watch the world premiere.

                                        Before the screening, with the cast of "Hitler's Folly"

                                            Dana Ashbrook (from "Twin Peaks") as Josh

                                          Michael Sullivan ("Greaser's Palace" as Michael

                                                      Nate Steinwachs as Adolf Hitler

As they entered the auditorium, I wondered to myself which of these people are "politically correct", or have no sense of humor and might be out to get me.  Maybe one of them is wearing an explosive vest or something, it's not like I can afford bomb-sniffing dogs or metal detectors at the door.  After all, three of my artists refused to work on my Hitler film and preferred to resign from the studio instead.

As I stood on the stage and introduced the stars of the film, I felt a little more comfortable from the polite applause.  Also, it helped that we had a live version of the cartoon character, Downy Duck, milling around the cinema and on stage, dancing and mugging for people.  He added an air of absurdity and fantasy to the evening.


As the film began and I heard the audience's laughter, I could finally relax and enjoy the show.  Afterward I had a lot of people approach me and tell me how much they loved the film, and how they were going to tell all of their friends about it, so they can watch it streaming on www.plymptoons.com

                                                          On stage with Dana Ashbrook

                                           On stage with Hitler's "creation", Downy Duck

I want to thank the staff and crew at the SVA Theatre for a great job, and also Emma Griffiths and John Holderried for their help in putting this wonderful event together.

Please check out my film "Hitler's Folly" on my web-site, www.plymptoons.com

And my thanks to Adam Rackoff for taking these great photos!

Thanks,

Bill Plympton

Friday, June 3, 2016

V.I.S.

VIS stands for Vienna Independent Shorts - it's a film festival that's been around for about 13 years.

Apparently, last year David OReilly and Don Hertzfeldt appeared there and sang my praises - for whatever reason, I don't know.  In any case, the Austrian Film Museum invited me to come this year and do a retrospective screening and a master class.  I'd heard great things about Vienna, and thought it would be fun to visit.  So here I am, I'm writing this while on an AirBerlin flight returning from my 4-day visit to VIS.

They put me up in a fancy, yet wackily-hip hotel called 25 Hours.  The festival opened with a celebration of my birthday on stage, after screening my latest "Simpsons" couch gag.  I was caught by surprise, partly because my birthday was a month ago, and also because they gave me a cake with a cow on it, and it was the cow from my film "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger", along with two large roman candles.

My three shows were big successes, because I had packed-house audiences and sustained applause throughout - this is what I live for.



But also, I was able to check out the robust cultural scene in Vienna.  The Belvedere Museum, which looks a lot like Versailles, had a couple of famous Gustav Klimt paintings.  Then I visited the Leopold Museum, which contains the largest collection of Egon Schiele artwork, and I must admit that right now I'm a freak for Egon, especially his drawings.  They're so evocative and distorted, yet are anatomically correct.  I'm considering using his drawing style for my next feature film.

Other highlights were the Austrian Congress building, where Hitler once gave a speech from a balcony where he claimed the conquest of Austria, in front of thousands of adoring Viennese fans.  And then, of course, the Austrian Academy of Art, which rejected Hitler's portfolio when he applied for enrollment to art school, which subsequently led to him trying to dominate the world.

Just imagine, if the school had accepted his application for enrollment - in fact, that's the premise of my new mockumentary, "Hitler's Folly", where you can see that alternate reality explored.  It's just released, you can see it streaming on my new web-site at www.plymptoons.com

But to get back to VIS - it's a vibrant shorts festival that concentrates on abstract and avant-garde shorts (I went through that phase in college).  That's why everyone who works for the festival is young or college-age, and it gives the festival a wonderful, free-form spirit, which I loved.  I give the VIS Festival a B+

Be sure to enter your short films there, it's a great experience.


And my thanks to the Austrian Film Museum for arranging my appearance, and for the great photos!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Angry Birds" + a trip to Montauk

First of all, I'm not an "Angry Birds" fan.  I've never seen them on my computer - since I don't watch stuff on my computer.  Yet I have a 3-year old son, and I"m trying to introduce him to the cinema/popcorn/coke habit - so we went to see "Angry Birds".

I liked the idea that an angry creature is the star of a film - any angry creature in a film, even a  human, would be refreshing.  I thought that it was a novel way to tell a story - I also like the evil pigs and their evil machinations.  They kind of reminded me of the evil penguin in Nick Park's "The Wrong Trousers".

However, to me the plot included too many characters - I got confused and the character design was a little too flat and crude.  And to the audience, there really was only one big joke - and honestly, now I can't remember what it was.  (I know, I should have written this immediately after the screening - but hey, I'm not a reviewer by profession, I'm a friggin' animator...)

So for me, it was a mildly entertaining film, but my son Lucas didn't like it at all.  Hmm, he's a tough critic.  So I give "Angry Birds" a C+

Also, I want to remind everyone that we're having the world premiere of my mockumentary "Hitler's Folly" at the SVA theater on 23rd St. in Manhattan, on Wednesday, June 1 at 7 pm.  All are invited and the admission is free - you just have to send an RSVP by e-mail to:  follyrsvp@gmail.com

So, if you want to see what Adolf Hitler would have been like as a cartoonist, check it out.  And if you don't live in the NY or NJ area, tell your friends about it, and you can watch it for free on my Plymptoons web-site, starting June 3.

Finally, last week I got together with my Scribble Junkies partner, Pat Smith, at his sprawling Montauk mansion.  It was a wonderful reunion, we talked animation and relaxed in the lap of luxury.  Here are some photos:









--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Hitler's Folly" premiere, June 1

I want to announce to everyone that we're having the World Premiere of "Hitler's Folly", my brand-new mockumentary on June 1, 7 pm at the SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd St. in New York City, and it's FREE!

I got the idea for this mockumentary when I read an article about Adolf Hitler that said he was obsessed with Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" - and the idea that the most evil man in history was laughing at Doc, Happy, Dopey et al. seemed like the most surreal concept to me - I had to make a film about it!

Two years later, the result is a movie called "Hitler's Folly" - a re-imagining of history, since we all know that the infamous German dictator was a failed artist, this film positions him instead as a wanna-be cartoonist.

The film is a combination of old WWII footage, new footage of actors portraying historical characters (Hitler is played by Nate Steinwachs), and cartoons and animation supposedly created by Mr. Hitler himself.


I'm not the first person to use Adolf Hitler as a comic character, filmmakers like Walt Disney ("Der Fuhrer's Face"), Tex Avery ("Blitzwolf"), Charlie Chaplin ("The Great Dictator") and of course, Mel Brooks ("The Producers") did it way before me.  So, I hope people who see the film have a sense of humor - if not, they probably shouldn't come and see it.

Since the film has a lot of photos, film clips and music from the internet, I was afraid of lawsuits if I release the film, as I just plain don't have the money to pay for a copyright lawyer and all of the fees to use the images and music - so what I decided to do is release "Hitler's Folly" for free on the internet, and if some kind viewers like my humor and want me to continue making films like this, they can send a donation to my studio.  That way, hopefully I can make more crazy wacky films like this in the future.

So, be sure to tell all your friends about my new feature, and if you want to get tickets, send an e-mail to:  follyrsvp@gmail.com   and if you can't make it to New York, then check it out online at www.plymptoons.com  a few days after that.

Thanks for your support!

--Bill Plympton


The world premiere of "Hitler's Folly" will take place at SVA Theatre on Wednesday, June 1 at 7:00 pm. After the screening, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bill Plympton will be handing out drawings to all attendees.

This screening is FREE and open to the public and all of Bill’s fans. RSVP is required for admittance via: follyrsvp@gmail.com. Seating is strictly on a first-come, first-served basis.

A merciless satire from Academy Award nominee Bill Plympton, HITLER'S FOLLY explores what might have happened if Adolf Hitler's art career had been more successful and instead of becoming an evil dictator, he was inspired to become an animator like Walt Disney.

Using World War II footage, Hitler's early artwork and Plympton's signature animation, this dark mockumentary re-imagines history and explores Hitler’s unfulfilled animation career in the spirit of "The Producers" by Mel Brooks.  The film stars Dana Ashbrook of "Twin Peaks", Mike Sullivan of Robert Downey's "Greaser’s Palace" and Nate Steinwachs as Hitler.

HITLER'S FOLLY IS DIRECTED, DESIGNED, ANIMATED, AND WRITTEN BY BILL PLYMPTON.

See more at: http://svatheatre.com/events/hitlers-folly-new-york-premiere/

Monday, May 9, 2016

Roofdeck Birthday Party

It's been a crazy two weeks, with editing work on "Revengeance" and a trip to Spain, but somewhere in there, I had a birthday! And a LOT of my staff and interns had birthdays in late April, too! So the Friday before I left for Spain, we went up on my roof deck and had some beer and wine, a couple of birthday cakes, and some hot dogs and "not dogs".




Thanks to everyone who stuck around on Friday night, and also thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter! -- Bill Plympton



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cortoons Festival

A bunch of years ago - too many for me to remember - I was invited to a film festival in Italy run by Alessandro d'Urso.  I don't remember much, except that I had a great time.

Well, just a few months ago, Alessandro contacted me again and that the Italian economy was shitty and the government was corrupt, and that he was very happy to be moving his Cortoons Festival to Spain.  Gandia, to be exact, and he wanted to know if I would like to come.  Well, I'm a big freak for Spain, and Gandia is a famous resort town on the Southern coast, near Valencia - I said, "Get me a ticket, I'm coming!"

I was met at the Valencia airport by Alessandro and two chicas (my guides) on a rainy afternoon last week, just before the festival's outdoor opening ceremonies, which obviously then needed to be moved to inside City Hall.  It wasn't a great start for what was supposed to be a sun-drenched festival.

Alessandro's programming is unique, he only shows animation and it's not a competitive festival, it's only films that he loves.  So I saw a great Betty Boop show, and a Tex Avery and Bob Clampett show.  Plus the best cartoon shorts from around the world.

The other amazing thing is that the whole damn festival is free to the public.  What?  Free to the public?  How does he do that?  Is he some kind of rich film mogul?  No, he says that he makes money doing photography work, and relies on a lot of volunteers.  He's got a magnetic enthusiasm that just seems to draw people to his festival.



There was a night of Bill Plympton, with a shorts program and my feature film "Cheatin'" - then a Master Class on Saturday that was packed, even the mayor was there. That took place on my birthday, so I was really happy that so many people came out to the event.

A little bit of weird trivia, they put me up in the Hotel Borgia, right near the Borgia Castle, and I came to find out that the evil Borgia family started out in Spain before moving to Italy.

                                  I met Angel and his wife, who had recently commissioned
                                     some caricatures from me.  Glad they could make it!

By the way, after two days of cold and rain, the weather cleared up, and I was able to go swimming in the Mediterranean and eat seafood paella by the shore.



I give the Cortoons Festival a B+

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Nerdland"

I've known Chris Prynoski for years, he used to work at MTV, then he started the animation production company Titmouse, where he achieved legendary status producing hit programs for the Adult Swim line-up on the Cartoon Network.

Finally, he decided to produce an animated feature film, "Nerdland", which I saw last week at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Also, Chris invited me to animate a section of the film - the only thing he said to me was to "create the most violent and grotesque scene of torture", and that it had to last less than 2 seconds.  So I dashed off a very short, violent comedic bit that appears quickly in the film.

I'm so glad that Chris is creating animated feature films, it seems to be a major trend now.  Aaron Augenblick is directing "The Adventures of Drunky", and the Seth Rogen / James Franco / Jonah Hill crowd all did voices for "Sausage Party", which is coming out later this year.  So maybe finally animated features for adults are starting to catch on. 

I really liked "Nerdland", and was excited to see that it covered a lot of the same territory as the film that Jim Lujan and I are making now, "Revengeance".  Both films are set in the sleazy underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles.  However, "Nerdland" was more about nerds and their search for fame, while "Revengeance" will be more about the desire for money and power. 


I loved the look and design of "Nerdland", but I had two complaints.  The story kept meandering - there were some very promising directions, like when they made fun of giant computer companies with a conglomerate called "Mega Soft".  I thought that direction would be fun, but after a few minutes, that plotline was dropped. The same thing happened when the two protagonists decided to become famous serial killers, but that was quickly dropped, too.  It's too bad, because I loved that idea.

My other problem with the film was that it wasn't that funny.  You'd think with the two great comedians Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt as stars, the jokes would be hilarious - I say, just turn on the mic and let Patton improvise, and you've got a film.  But unfortunately, I think they forced Patton to follow the script. 


I'm a great one to complain, my stories and humor tend to get bad reviews, and that's the reason why I've teamed up with Jim Lujan for "Revengeance", he's a terrific writer. 

I don't know when "Nerdland" will be released, but I highly recommend that you see it - it's still a wonderful film.  I'm giving it a "B" because we've got to support kick-ass adult animation.

--Bill Plympton


P.S. My office manager, John Holderried, also went to see the film, and he had a slightly different take on it.  You can check out his full review on his blog here:

http://honkysmovieyear.blogspot.com/2016/04/nerdland.html

But here are some highlights from his review:

It's not too much of a mental leap from "Beavis and Butthead" to John and Elliot.  Maybe if those kids finally stopped watching videos and got off the couch, moved to L.A. and tried to find work in the entertainment industry.  In the meantime, they have to support themselves with various jobs to pay the rent - and just like Scott Lang in "Ant-Man", Elliot's been fired from an ice-cream shop (and a record store, and a video-store, and...)  

But in a few days they'll both be 30 years old (Ya feel that, millennials?  It's coming...) so they decide to take the fast-track to being famous, and these days that means only one thing - making internet videos.  When that doesn't work, they decide to become hackers, then pop-culture news heroes, and when THAT doesn't work, really, there's only one solution, right?  If the first two words you thought of were "hard work", then you're way off-base.  Think more like "murder spree".  I think the twisted logic that gets them there is quite an interesting turn, even though if we like these guys, we don't want to see them kill a bunch of people.  

But there's a message here, kids, if you can stop texting long enough to hear it - there is NO fast track to fame.  For most people, there isn't even a slow track.  Every person who became famous, for the right reasons anyway, had to work hard to get there.  I heard some rock stars bad-mouthing "American Idol" about a month ago, because it seemed like such a fast-track to them, and the people involved don't seem to be paying their dues.  Yeah, but nobody has natural talent, not even pop stars, they have to practice, they have to learn songs, they have to get up on stage and perform.  They even have to appear in silly Ford commercials, and that's not easy. 

Oh, sure, there are YouTube stars, and there are Kardashians.  But even YouTubers have to work hard to make good videos, and anyone who has success thrust upon them for the wrong reasons - do you really WANT their kind of fame, in the end?  You might have some money, but no soul.  So quitcher whining and get a job, because no one's going to give you a free college education, and nobody's going to successfully wrestle money from the corporations and banks and distribute it out to twenty-somethings.  

My main complaint is that the film is called "Nerdland", and the two main characters aren't really nerds, they're more like slackers.  The main nerd in the film is an overweight man who runs a collectibles store and wears a crown (King of the Nerds), but he's too much of a stereotype, an urban version of Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" or The Collector from "PowerPuff Girls".  And like those other stereotypical nerds, he'll do just about anything for you, as long as you can get him a rare action figure that's MIB.  But we've all seen plot points like that before, right?  

Look, I've been across the country, I've met nerds from coast to coast.  Nerds are, for the most part, decent people, and the vast majority of them are hard-working and not very murder-y.  And they have smart phones, not flip phones - they love technology, after all!  If you're going to call a film "Nerdland", maybe put a few more nerds in it, that's all I'm saying. 


Friday, April 22, 2016

Blame it on RIO (and Sao Paulo, too)

About 15 years ago, I was invited to the newly-organized Anima Mundi Animation Festival in Brazil.  It was exciting to see all of the enthusiasm and talent from the young attendees at the festival, and because my films are popular in Brazil, I was recently invited to do a career retrospective screening and Master Class in both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, put together by Boulevard Filmes and sponsored by Caixa Cultural. 

By coincidence, the two-city tour came as Brazil was in a rush-rush hustle to finish all of the venues and install a new trolley system for the 2016 Summer Olympics.  And if that weren't enough, their president, Dilma Rousseff, was up for impeachment, and everywhere I went, there were protests and political controversy.

I started out in Sao Paulo, where they held the first massive screening, and then I did my Master Class, which apparently sold out in 24 hours - that was fun.

                                                          Signing for fans in Sao Paulo




                                           With Rosana Urbes, an animator from Sao Paulo

I then flew to Rio, where I stayed in the Copacabana area, so I was able to swim every morning, singing the song "The Girl From Ipanema".  Unfortunately, that was also the location of a massive demonstration on the night of the impeachment vote.  Everyone told me to stay inside, and for God's sake, don't wear anything red.  That's the color of the opposition, and there had been reports of citizens wearing red getting beaten up.  I sure didn't need that.  However, when I went out for my afternoon swim, the protestors were very friendly and didn't bother me a bit.

As you may have read, the Lower House easily voted for impeachment, and now it goes to Brazil's senate, where it may also pass.  Then the President has to plead her case to the government, and who knows what will happen then.

                                                            My Master Class in Rio



In any case, my screenings and Master Class in Rio were also well received.  So I had a great time in Brazil, and definitely check out Anima Mundi, it's a wonderful film festival.



However, there was one negative note in my visit to Rio - apparently, they've passed a law that outlawed topless sunbathing - which is really weird because here in NYC's Times Square, you can see topless women all the time.  What's the world coming to?

--Bill P.