Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Village Voice

As I hope you're aware, my new feature film, CHEATIN', is being released in theaters across the U.S. this month.  See my earlier post for the full schedule.

It's going to be a crazy month - in addition to the hundreds of interviews, I'm doing a cross-country caravan, hitting 15 cities to promote CHEATIN' (the movie, not the act...)

So, it's a very tense and nervous time.  Will I be receiving great reviews or rejections in each city?  Will there be packed movie theaters or cinemas that look like ghost towns? 

I was greatly relieved to get the reviews that came out around the time of the NYC opening.  The Village Voice, the paper based in the neighborhood where we were screening, said things like "more inspired gorgeous wonder than late Malick films" and "don't-miss-it chance to see a master dream up a pungent freak-out".

http://www.villagevoice.com/movies/cheatin-4027326/

Wow, how can I top that?  And then I got the review from the New York Times.  Among other great things, they said it's a "lusty film-noir dreamscape" with a "volatile blending of the sensual and the grotesque". 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/movies/review-cheatin-conjures-a-lusty-film-noir-dreamscape.html?_r=0

But the best one came from IndieWire - they called it "the best animated movie of 2015". 

http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-best-animated-movie-of-2015-is-already-here-20150401

I'm so relieved that people like the movie - after spending all my savings on it and drawing for three years on the project, it's finally going to find its audience.  So please check my Facebook page or the schedule here on my blog, or follow me on Twitter to find out when CHEATIN' might be coming to your city! 

I hope to see you there -

Thanks,

Bill Plympton

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

CHEATIN' release update

It's Day 5 of the theatrical release of CHEATIN' at the Village East Cinema.  We only have two more days to go, and the chances of breaking even don't look good.  We had great opening audiences on Friday, and a few of the evening shows have been crowded, but not enough to make a profit.

Since we couldn't get the type of distribution we wanted, we decided to "four-wall" the cinema, that meant we essentially rented the theater for one whole week for a lot of money, hoping that the buzz for the film would fill the seats.

Well, an empty theater seat is a terrible thing to waste - and even with the stellar reviews we got (we have an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) we're just not bringing in the crowds.

I believe the big problem is our lack of a sufficient advertising budget.  All the big Hollywood films pump out millions of dollars to promote their films - I think we spent just $800 on ads.

Yet, in the Village East Cinema, CHEATIN' is kicking Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart's asses - and they have "Get Hard" on two screens, while we have only one.

Next week, I start my 15-city tour - so hopefully I'll be able to bring you better news from the hinterlands.  Thanks for all your help, spreading the word about independent animation!

--Bill P.

                                                 Hey, look, CHEATIN' is on the marquee! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Crazy week!!!

April will be a very busy month for me - I'm juggling numerous projects.

The first project is my new short film "The Loneliest Stoplight", it's about 6 minutes long and it's all colored and it looks beautiful.  I'll be in L.A. later this month and I'm going to have a famous comedian record the voice-over.  I'm very excited about this new short, it may be my best.

Also, I'm in the middle of animating my new feature film, written by the hilarious Jim Lujan.  He also designed it and is doing most of the voices.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through the animation, and in all modesty, I think it looks amazing and I'm having a ball.

The third ball I'm juggling is "Hitler's Folly".  I've shown a very rough cut to some friends who make documentaries, and although they think it's funny, they're having trouble with the main character's personality.  I think I know how to fix it, however I'll have to do some reshoots and that's going to take some time and money.  And I'm hoping to go to the final edit next week, so I'd better hop to it.

And the final big ball is the release of CHEATIN' in theaters across America.  It opens at the Village East Cinemas in New York on April 3, for one week only.  We decided to "four-wall" it, since no distributor was willing to take a chance on a hand-drawn animated feature for adults.  (Idiots!)

So we need to do a big publicity push to get some buzz going, and hopefully we'll get a big crowd to go to the Village East Cinemas.  I'll be there every night to talk and give sketches to all of the attendees.

From there, I go on to a 2 1/2 week tour of the U.S. to promote the film in 15 theaters.  You can see my schedule in my last blog post - I'm going to Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Bellingham WA, San Francisco, Berkeley, Sonoma CA, Denver, Portland, Salem, Eugene OR, Corvallis OR, Columbus OH, Boston. 

And on April 21, we're offering CHEATIN' exclusively on Vimeo - and this is where we hope to cash in on all of our hard work.  I've been working on this film since 2009, and it's so great to finally see the fruits of my labor available to the public.

So, if you were a Kickstarter contributor, or just a fan of my animation, please help spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever - tell everyone to check out CHEATIN' - I think you'll fall in love with the film!

Thanks for your support!

--Bill Plympton


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CHEATIN' theatrical release in April

All you Kickstarter backers and Plympton fans will be delighted to learn that we finally have a release date for my latest feature film, CHEATIN'.

Mark your calendars, because on April 3, CHEATIN' will have its U.S. theatrical premiere in NYC - then the next week it starts opening across America.


We're planning to do a lot of press and personal appearances - in NYC we're going to have a star-studded premiere, and everyone who comes will get a free Bill Plympton sketch, and a few of the early attendees will get some prints or drawings from the film.

As I travel around the country (like a rock star) making appearances, I also plan on giving out sketches to every member of the audience who wants one.  We'll also have very cool posters and DVDs of my earlier films for sale.

Below is a list of the opening dates around the country, and then a rough itinerary of my travels.  Please tell your friends and everyone you know to come check out CHEATIN'!  Keep checking back here, because we could book more dates, and my staff will keep the lists updated.

We weren't able to get a big-time distributor for the film.  Most of them believe there is no audience for an animated feature that's hand-drawn and made for adults.  That's why I'm relying on YOU, my faithful fans, to show up and show them that they're wrong.

Instead, we hired a booker to set up these screening dates and my rock-star tour.  This is truly a new type of independent model for distribution, and I think this is really the format for the future.  Often, even if a film is a big success, it never makes a profit, because money is siphoned off by agents, distributors and lawyers.  We don't have any of those, so we have a greater chance of breaking even.

In fact, in New York we decided to "four-wall" the film, that means we're basically renting the cinema for a week, but we get to keep all of the box office.  It's very risky, and we could lose our investment if people don't show up.  So, once again, we need the support of my faithful audience to help us get our money back.

So please tell all of your friends, and even your enemies, to come see me and CHEATIN' when I come to your town.  Check your local listings for showtimes + tickets.  I hope to see you there!

You can also read more about the upcoming release here:
http://www.awn.com/news/new-trailer-poster-released-bill-plympton-s-cheatin

--Bill Plympton

CHEATIN' THEATRICAL RELEASE OPENING DATES

April 3 - NEW YORK - Village East Cinema
April 10 - CHICAGO - Gene Siskel Theater
April 13 - MINNEAPOLIS - St. Anthony Main Theater (Minneapolis Film Festival Screening)
April 15 - SEATTLE - NW Film Forum
April 16 - BELLINGHAM, WA - Pickford Film Center
April 17 - SAN FRANCISCO - Roxie Theater
April 17 - BERKELEY, CA - Elmwood Cinema
April 17 - SONOMA, CA - Sebastopol Cinemas
April 17 - SANTA FE, NM - Jean Cocteau Cinema
April 17 - KANSAS CITY, MO - Screenland Crossroads
April 21 - GAINESVILLE, FL - The Wooly
April 24 - DENVER - Sie Film Center
April 24 - PORTLAND, OR - Cinema 21
April 24 - EUGENE, OR - Bijou Theater
April 24 - SALEM, OR - Salem Cinema
April 24 - CORVALLIS, OR - Darkside Cinema
April 24 - ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Guild Cinema
April 24 - COLUMBUS, OH - Gateway Film Center
April 24 - TEMPE, AZ - Harkins Valley Art
April 28 - DALLAS, TX - Texas Theater
April 30 - WINSTON-SALEM, NC - Aperture Cinema
May 1 - MINNEAPOLIS - U Film
May 1 - BOSTON - Brattle Theater
May 1 - MONTREAL, QUEBEC - Cinema du Parc
May 7 - ROCHESTER, NY - Little Theater
May 10 - AUSTIN, TX - Austin Film Society
May 22 - PELHAM, NY - The Picturehouse


BILL PLYMPTON APPEARANCE SCHEDULE (subject to change, times TBD)

April 3-5 - NEW YORK - Village East Cinema
April 12 - CHICAGO - Gene Siskel Theater
April 13-14 - MINNEAPOLIS - St. Anthony Main Theater
April 15 - SEATTLE - NW Film Forum
April 16 - BELLINGHAM, WA - Pickford Film Center
April 17 - SAN FRANCISCO - Roxie Theater
April 18 - BERKELEY, CA - Elmwood Cinema
April 19 - SONOMA, CA - Sebastopol Cinemas
April 22 - DENVER - Sie Film Center
April 24-25 - PORTLAND, OR - Cinema 21
April 25 - SALEM, OR - Salem Cinema
April 26 - EUGENE, OR - Bijou Theater
April 26 - CORVALLIS, OR - Darkside Cinema
April 27 - COLUMBUS, OH - Gateway Film Center
May 1-3 - BOSTON - Brattle Theater
May 7 - ROCHESTER, NY - Little Theater

Monday, February 23, 2015

Enzian Theater's 30th Anniversary

I first attended the Florida Film Festival back in the early 1990's.  I went to this festival in Orlando and had a ball, because it was one of those rare festivals that seemed to care more about the filmmakers than the press or sponsors.  I was treated so well I decided to come back, and come back I did. 


They claim that I've had more films screen at the Florida Film Festival then any other filmmaker - and that led to me creating two trailers and two posters for the festival, and happily I was also commissioned to design a mural for their very popular Eden Bar. 

                             People drinking at the Eden Bar, with my mural in the background!

Since this February they were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Enzian Theater (coincidentally, it's also my 30th Anniversary of working in animation) they asked me to create a new trailer to celebrate the event and they brought me down to be part of the celebration. 



The weather in NYC, as you all know, has been extremely frigid, so a long weekend break in sunny Florida seemed like the perfect getaway for Valentine's Day with my wife, Sandrine.

The big celebration at the Enzian was a marvelous event, presided over by Siggy, Henry and Liz, with great food and the typical warm family atmosphere that is the custom at the Florida Film Festival.


But the biggest news was the announcement of a massive new construction project to expand the one-screen cinema into a much larger three-screen cinema with a second kitchen and larger lobby.  It will be the centerpiece of culture in central Florida.


If you have a new film, please enter it in the Florida Film Festival, and be sure to attend.  You'll have a ball!


For more information about the Enzian Theater and the Florida Film Festival, please visit:
http://www.enzian.org/

--Bill P.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jennifer Aniston and Me

I got an invitation to see Jennifer Aniston's new film "Cake" and to also have dinner and drinks and meet the star herself.  I don't always go to these events - I'm usually too busy, but I thought this might be a good opportunity to introduce myself as the animator who drew her character on the FOX T.V. show "The Edge" years ago.  Also, I thought she might be interested in doing a voice for a new short film I'm starting work on, called "The Loneliest Stoplight".

So, I went to the packed screening of "Cake".  Aniston is, of course, wonderful in it, but the film itself is not my kind of movie.  It's very cynical and depressing. 

I took a cab to the reception, got there early and introduced myself to her, and I was just about to mention "The Edge" when some old friends of hers butted in, and slowly I got pushed to the periphery, then photographers told me to move out of the way so they could take pictures.

But I hung in there, knowing that she'd probably be delighted to meet the guy who did animation for the sketch comedy show she was on before "Friends" - perhaps she'd even ask me for a drawing.  More of her friends joined in the crowd, and the more I hung around, the more her personal bodyguards thought I was a stalker.

Finally, the burly bodyguard told me to back away from her so she could eat.  But I explained to the guy that I worked with her on a project and wanted to chat with her for a minute.  He then became very insistent that I move away so she could have her dinner. 

So I asked him if she or her management company actually paid $15,000 for this event so she could eat dinner, or if they forked over the big bucks so she could meet Academy voters and talk about her film for an Oscar nomination.  That didn't seem to convince him, as he moved his body directly between Ms. Aniston and me. 

I took the hint that my opportunity was now gone, as he seemed to single me out as a troublemaker.  So I grabbed my coat and as I left in frustration I said to the bodyguard, "Because of you, I'm not going to vote for Ms. Aniston or the film.  And I don't believe those are Jennifer's wishes." 

Boy, I really told him off - but in the end neither of us got nominated this time, so we couldn't meet up at the Governors Ball and laugh about the whole incident.  Now that would have been cool!

--Bill P.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My trip to the 2015 Annie Awards


I've just returned to the frozen tundra of NYC from the tropical paradise of L.A., where I attended the famous Annie Awards.  I also used that golden opportunity to make an appearance at Sony Pictures Animation, to see what they were doing and talk about my new films.

I also did a show at the Steve Allen Theater, where I showed clips from my new films, "Hitler's Folly" (which I was very nervous about, but people laughed a lot...) and "Revengeance" with Jim Lujan, which also got a great reception.

                                At the Annies with Ken Mora, Jim Lujan, Sandrine Plympton
                                                              and James Hancock.

                          On the red carpet with CHEATIN' composer Nicole Renaud and Sandrine.

But on to the Annies - it's a wonderful black-tie affair that takes place at UCLA's Royce Hall.  It's become the Oscars for animation - all the big studios put their big films and big stars on display.

 I got to hang out with Matt Groening - in fact, I introduced him to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of  "LEGO Movie" fame.  (Chris used to be an intern at my studio years ago.)  It turns out they're mutual admirers. 

                  Matt Groening meets Christopher Miller and Phil Lord from "The LEGO Movie"

                 With Sandrine and Brandon Oldenburg and William Joyce of Moonbot Studios.

I said hello to Travis Knight of Laika House, producer of "The Boxtrolls", and I was also able to chat with Leslie Iwerks, granddaughter of the famous Ub Iwerks, and a great documentary filmmaker.  Also, I congratulated Bonnie Arnold on her big success, being hired as the head of Dreamworks Animation.  She's famous for producing "Toy Story" and a bunch of Pixar hits, but she also produced the big hit "How to Train Your Dragon 2", which I believe was the best animated film of 2014.

So I knew going in that had only a snowball's chance in hell of winning an Annie - but that's OK, because I just love hanging out in L.A. (the mecca of animation) and catching up with my friends and talking about animation. 

                              With David Silverman (producer/director on "The Simpsons")
                                  and Jerry Beck, animation historian ("Cartoon Research")

                                  With Tomm Moore ("Song of the Sea") and his wife, plus
                                       CHEATIN' composer Nicole Renaud and Sandrine.

If you're interested in finding out who the winners were, you can check them out at http://annieawards.org/

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Footprints" playing at IFC Center, NYC

Hey, gang, a quick programming note.  Shorts HD is playing a program of the Academy Award-nominated animated shorts in select theaters around the U.S.  If you're in the NYC area, for example, you can catch the program at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at 3rd St.) and here is a link to where you can buy tickets:

http://www.ifccenter.com/films/academy-award-nominated-animated-short-films-2015/

The program includes:
"Me and My Moulton", directed by Torill Kove
"Feast", directed by Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
"The Bigger Picture", directed by Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
"A Single Life", directed by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen
"The Dam Keeper", directed by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

The program also includes a few shorts that were close to being nominated, such as:
"Duet", directed by Glen Keane
"Bus Story", directed by Tali
"Sweet Cocoon",
and "Footprints", directed by some guy named Bill Plympton -

The program is playing in over 350 theaters around the U.S. and Canada, so please check your local listings, and go out and support some animation this week!  It's a great way to see all of the nominated shorts before they hand out the Oscar!

For more information about the program, please visit:

http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/about/

To search for theaters near you playing this program, please follow this link:

http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/dates-locations/

--Bill



Friday, January 23, 2015

Los Angeles appearance, January 30

Hey, Plympton fans, guess what?  I'll be making a rare appearance in L.A. next week, on Friday, January 30 at 8 pm, making a presentation of all of my new projects, sponsored by Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, located at 4773 Hollywood Blvd.

I'm going to show brand-new clips from my upcoming animated feature with Jim Lujan, called "Revengeance" - it looks very cool.  Then I'll show some of my newest shorts - like "Footprints" and my piece for "ABC's of Death" called "Head Games".

I'll also be showing excerpts from my other work-in-progress feature, "Hitler's Folly".  These clips will blow your mind.

And if that's not enough, I'll present the world premiere of my new short, "The Gastronomic Shark".

There will also be other cool surprises.  So, if you live in the L.A. area or know someone who does, get on down to the Steve Allen Theater and come say hello.  Hope to see you there.

For tickets and info, please visit:  

http://www.trepanyhouse.org/

or visit the Facebook page (copy + paste this link):

https://m.facebook.com/events/1539903152923681?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A2%2C%22ref_dashboard_filter%22%3A%22upcoming%22%7D&aref=2&arefdashboardfilter=upcoming

Thanks,

Bill P.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Homer Groening event

Back when I was at Portland State College and had dreams of making films, I attended the nascent Portland Film Festival, and one of the films in the festival was called "Study in Wet" my Homer Groening.  He happened to be there and was very friendly.  I told him I loved his film and especially his dry, ironic sense of humor.

He invited me up to his house to see some of his other work, and I took him up on his offer.  He and his wife, Margaret, were perfect hosts, feeding me while I watched some of his other "industrials" on his 16mm projector.

Well, that was back in 1967.  And now that his son, Matt Groening, is a big superstar, Anne Richardson and Lisa Groening decided to put together a long-needed retrospective of the forgotten genius (and inspiration for namesake Homer Simpson) at the famed Hollywood Theater, as part of their "Mid-Century Oregon Genius Program".  It was a packed house, full of Portland's animation celebrities: Joanna Priestley, Paul Harrod, Joan Gratz, Will Vinton, Marilyn Zornado and Craig Bartlett. 


I was honored to be asked to do the opening introduction, then the panel, consisting of film critic Tom Shrader, Ted Mahar, Lisa Bartlett (née Groening) and Matt himself, took over and talked about the life and art of Homer. 

The films they showed were made for big Oregon clients like Jantzen, White Stag and Pendleton, so they never really made it to cinemas or TV.  But they're so funny and entertaining, they should have been.  Matt noted that Homer told him that a film has to be either short or funny to be a success, and that demonstrates shades of my own Plympton dogma: short, cheap + funny.


I loved his sense of humor, very deadpan, which is also the kind of humor I try to emulate.  There's an ad agency in Portland called Wieden & Kennedy, and they've done ads for Nike and ESPN that are also very dry and ironic.  Hmm!  I wonder if they were also influenced by Mr. Groening.

I hope Lisa and Matt can put these gems on DVD.  Some are a bit dated, evoking the "Mad Men" era, with sexy bathing beauties everywhere, but they're so clever and witty, his work deserves to be discovered by more people. 

I believe you can find a few of them on YouTube, I'm enclosing a scan of the program so you'll know what to look for.  So check him out, Homer Groening.


Thanks,

Bill P.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oscar Nominations, Part 3

Damn! It happened again!  I had a great short film on the Oscars short-list, and it wasn't nominated!  What's my problem?  I feel like the Susan Lucci of animation!

A lot of people told me I had a great shot at a nomination this year, and of course, I never took their predictions seriously - people always want to make you feel good.  But a number of Academy members told me that "Footprints" got the biggest laughs at the L.A. screening, so I thought that should count for something. 

Of course, the Academy rarely nominates funny films.  They tend to want to reward the films that are the most creative, emotional and pithy.  So "gag" films don't usually make it.  But I felt that "Footprints" was one of my most meaningful films - besides being funny, it has a message, albeit an elusive one. 

 In the past, I've had other shortlisted films that I believed deserved to be nominated.  "The Fan and the Flower", written by Dan O'Shannon, was a gorgeous film that came close to a nom but didn't get one.  Also, I think "The Cow That Wanted To Be a Hamburger" should have gotten a nod, but it also failed to get one.


And my short called "Santa, the Fascist Years" was labeled by many people as a surefire Oscar winner.  But because I failed to see the potential in the film, I released it online first, and that is a no-no for the Academy. 


So, after all this, why don't I just give up and stop worrying about the famed golden statuette?  Because it's a life-changing event.  Another nomination would add tremendous value to my work, whether I win or not.  Besides, the Oscars are the best damn party in the world. 

So, how do I deal with this massive rejection?  Do I go to bed and hide for weeks?  No!

Do I give up animation all together?  Hell, no!

Right now I'm putting all of my energy and creativity into my new animated short, "The Loneliest Stoplight", and it's going to be the one to win the coveted Oscar statue.  Even if it doesn't, I still have to believe it will!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nightcrawler

Another interesting film I saw, which was not an animated film, was "Nightcrawler", starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, written and directed by Dan Gilroy.


A searing indictment of freelance news reporters, this is Jake Gyllenhaal at his best.  I love these cynical "film noir" movies where everyone is evil.  Plus, this film has a much deeper meaning, saying that our whole society loves violence - "if it bleeds, it leads", and local news often plays on that love of gore and suffering. 

I give the film, and Jake Gyllenhaal, an "A".

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Roger Ebert - "Life Itself"

Since I'm an Academy member, I get sent a lot of documentary films that are in competition for the Oscar.  I just received the wonderful documentary "Life Itself", a chronicle of the life and tragic death of Roger Ebert, directed by the famed Steve James.


The first time I met Roger was in 1989, I believe, when I was at the Telluride Film Festival with my film "How to Kiss".  A few friends and I were chatting with him on Main St. (I was listening, mostly).  I was very nervous, naturally, because a good word from him could have ignited my career.  So,  I encouraged him to see my new short.  He then realized he was late for a screening and asked what time it was.  Forgetting I had a drink in my hand, I raised my hand and rotated it to read my watch, naturally unloading my full drink all over my clothes.  After having a good laugh at my expense, everyone soon scattered to their screenings.

The next time I met up with him was at the Salt Lake City airport, at the end of the Sundance Film Festival.  I had screened "Mutant Aliens" there, and of course since it was an adult animated feature, it got no coverage and no buys.  I saw Roger sitting alone, reading in the gate area.  Gathering all my courage (and hoping he'd forgotten the spilled drink episode) I walked over to him and asked him if he could look at my new animated feature film, and I handed him the DVD.  You would have thought the film had Ebola all over it, because he refused to touch it, saying he had too many films to watch.

Later, this refusal really pissed me off - here was a guy who supposedly championed the independent filmmaker and also supported animation.  He was a huge supporter of Richard Linklater's animated film "Waking Life", which I thought, apart from the breakthrough computer techniques, really sucked.  And again, when my friend Nina Paley created "Sita Sings the Blues", he became best friends with her, promising to do all he could to get the film distributed - which was practically impossible since Nina failed to get the rights to some of the wonderful music she used.

So, maybe you can see why I have some bitter feelings about Mr. Ebert.  At the time I was the only truly independent animator making a career out of my feature films, and he couldn't at least acknowledge my work.  It's very frustrating.  And now, he's gone and it's too late.

Perhaps eventually I'll find a critic who can champion my career.  By the way, I give the documentary "Life Itself" a B+.  

--Bill Plympton

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Footprints" at Slamdance

Just a heads-up for everyone, my new animated short, "Footprints" (currently short-listed for the Oscars) has been selected to be shown in the great Slamdance Film Festival in Park City this January.

That's very exciting, because for two weeks every year, Slamdance and Sundance are the center of the indie film scene - all the press, distributors, buyers, agents, and theater owners go there, looking for interesting films.

It's my humble opinion that I may have had more films shown in Slamdance/Sundance than any other filmmaker.  (Though I haven't done the research to prove it...)  The reason is, I make at least one short film every year, and a new feature about every 3 years.  So chances are they'll get into one of the festivals or the other.

I'm guessing now, but I think I've had about 7 or 8 films that screened at Sundance, and maybe about the same number in Slamdance.  The funny thing is, I keep making these indie films while other filmmakers seem to either graduate to Hollywood to make big-budget films, or they go into real estate.   But me, I keep plugging away at my animation. 

So, if you're in the area, definitely check out "Footprints" at Slamdance, which will be screening in front of the feature "Bloodsucking Bastards" on Friday, January 23 at 8 pm in the Ballroom, and on Monday, January 26 at 1:40 pm in the Ballroom.

For more information, please go to:

http://showcase.slamdance.com/Passes-and-Tickets

--Bill

Monday, December 29, 2014

Oscars Round-Up, Part 2

I'm now in the process of screening all of the animated films in the hunt for Oscar contention, even though I'm not allowed to vote this year.  A quick round-up:


"Giovanni's Island" - I believe I've reviewed this wonderful film before, and I love it.


"A Boy and the World" - an abstract look at a young boy trying to grow up, it's excellent.


"Henry & Me" - a very weird story of a boy with cancer who meets up with all of the legendary NY Yankees baseball players to be able to win against his illness.  Terrible storytelling and amateurish art.


"The Hero of Color City" - a colorful feature for kids, produced by Max Howard and directed by Frank Gladstone.  Not my cup of tea.


"Rocks in my Pockets" by Signe Baumane.  A very bold and courageous look at suicide, great design and color but too much dialogue for my taste.  But she's been winning prizes all over the world for this film, so what do I know?


"Legend of Oz: Dorothy's Return" - standard CG animation, with bad color and storytelling.


"The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" by the legendary Isao Takahata. Everyone was very excited about seeing this ancient folk tale, especially since it's his last film - but I fell asleep during the film.  And the drawing near the end is atrocious.  It looks like they ran out of money so they hired high-school kids to finish the animation. 


"Big Hero 6", by Chris Williams and Don Hall - it's beautifully animated and designed.  I loved the main character, Baymax, his design is so original.  Also I loved the backgrounds, very futuristic yet also retro.  My only problem was that it was so derivative.  It looks like they took "The Iron Giant" and mashed it together with "The Incredibles" (both are Brad Bird films...).  However, I did enjoy myself, so I give it a "B". 


But my favorite of the low-budget films is "Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart".  It has everything - great art, design, color, story and music.  It's very similar to a Tim Burton film, in that it doesn't just cater to kids but appeals to adults also.  The story is dark and it doesn't have a happy ending, but it's still a very enjoyable film.  I hope it gets distribution here in the U.S., because I believe it would do very well.  

For the nominations, I predict a mix of big studio films and some indies:
1. "The Lego Movie", directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord
2. "How to Train Your Dragon 2", directed by Dean DeBlois
3. "The Boxtrolls", from Laika Studios, directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
4. "The Book of Life", directed by Jorge Gutierrez
5. "Song of the Sea", directed by Tomm Moore

For animated shorts nominations, I predict:
1. "Feast"
2. "The Dam Keeper"
3. "Duet"
4. "The Numberlys"
5. "Me and My Moulton"

Just so you know, I still have two films in the running, the animated feature "Cheatin'" and the animated short "Footprints".   The reason I'm not expecting a nomination is simply because all of the films that I believe will get nominations are 10 to 100 times more expensive than mine.  Still, I suppose I can allow myself to dream for a minute.

--Bill Plympton