Friday, August 30, 2013


Well, the film is almost finished - and to be honest, it hasn't gone as well as I thought it would.  At the early test screenings, the audience loved the film - but maybe they were just trying to make me feel good.

In any case, the four big film festivals - Venice, Toronto, Telluride and the New York Film Festival all turned it down.  Very disappointing!  We had high hopes for Toronto and Telluride - I found out that the new Miyazaki film got into those festivals, and perhaps they felt that one animated feature was enough?

In any case, we're trying for a couple more big fall festivals - we really need a premiere at a big festival to attract all the distributors.  If we can't get into the remaining fall festivals, we'll wait until the big winter festivals, like Sundance, Berlin, etc.  This may be a blessing in disguise, because it gives us a chance to really finish the film and perfect the sound and editing.

If, for some ungodly reason, the film doesn't get picked up by a major distributor, we do have a number of smaller players willing to distribute the film.  And if their deals aren't really exciting to us, we could even self-distribute.  I've done that in the past and it's certainly a more viable option now that digital media and the internet are becoming greater sources of income.

However, we do have one international festival that will host the foreign premiere, and that will be the wonderful Sitges Festival, near Barcelona.  It's one of my favorite festivals, taking place from October 11 to 20.  Keep watching this space for updates on the festival news for CHEATIN'.


Monday, August 19, 2013


I became a big fan of Neill Blomkamp after watching the terrific film "District 9". So, I was very excited to go see his new feature "Elysium". 

Basically, it's an expensive ad for universal health care, which is why Republicans hate the film.  It's a meataphor for ObamaCare. 

I loved it because it was a wonderful visual reflection on today's society of the very rich, very poor and the shrinking middle class.  In fact, it's not really a sci-fi movie, so much as a social commentary. 

I do have a few problems with the film.  First, how is it that the space-station residents can breathe oxygen, when it's all open like that? 

Secondly, where's the great sense of ironic humor that Neill had in "District 9"?

Number three - I wish he had included more of the space station snobbery and elitism and less of the endless gun battles. 

But, having said that, I really loved the film "Elysium" and give it a B.

Bill Plympton

Grant Wood Landscapes..

I've always enjoyed Grant Woods light and airy paintings, a quality of whimsical that was way ahead of his time.. I particularly love his landscapes. For those who can't place him, Grant Wood was an American painter who depicted a lot of midwestern landscapes and portraits..  most famous for his "American Gothic" painting, a great painting that has been tragically reproduced and parodied. he died in 1942.  He would have been a great animation background artist!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


A few years back, I was happy to discover that the guy living across the hall from me in my Chelsea apartment building was Alex Winter.  You may know him as Bill from the movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", released back in 1989.

He turned out to be a fan of my short film "Your Face", and we became good friends.  After the 2nd installment of "Bill & Ted", he turned to directing commercials and features (right now he has a wonderful documentary about Napster called "Downloaded", check it out...).

But, before he left to live and work in London, he left me a VHS copy of his directorial and acting project, "Freaked".  It's actually a take-off on that old Todd Browning feature film, "Freaks".

But in the new version, Alex plays a famous actor who gets stuck in a South American freakshow, run by Randy Quaid.  Randy turns Alex's character into a mutated monster, who becomes another of the sideshow's weird performers.

It's definitely one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen.  I don't know if it got a theatrical release, but it stars a number of celebrities: Morgan Fairchild, Bobcat Goldthwait. Mr. T and Brooke Shields.  I heard even Keanu Reeves has a cameo as the dog-faced boy.

But what attracted my attention was the far-out visuals.  This was done before computer animation took over visual effects.  A lot of the characters look right out of the work of Ed "Big Daddy Roth".

And, as an added bonus, the opening titles were created by the legendary David Daniels, and his strata-cut animation technique.  Check this film out.  I give it a B+.

Bill Plympton

Friday, August 9, 2013

Escape From Planet Earth

I pride myself in seeing all of the animated feature films that are released in the U.S. (and some that are not...) and if, for some bizarre reason, I miss the film in the theater, then I try to find it on Netflix.

One of the films I just saw on Netflix is the Weinstein Co.'s "Escape From Planet Earth".   I never saw it in the cinemas because the reviews were so terrible that it only lasted a week or two.  Well, I finally got a chance to see the film.

It really wasn't that bad.  It's just that it looks like a bad copy of a Dreamworks film.  The story is a bit weak, with lots of sideline characters that muddy the plot.  There are a few nice gags, but no big laughs.

It's just a mediocre film for the tots that isn't really enjoyable for adults, unlike a Pixar film.

The film production designer is Barry Jackson, whose work I totally love.  He did some great designs and backgrounds for Ralph Bakshi.  Here, the designs are very bland - they must have been changed by the Weinsteins.

The Weinstein Company has dabbled in animation before, the two "Hoodwinked" films, for example, and they were good money-makers.  What mystifies me is why they don't take the plunge into adult animation.  In fact, their cash-cow, Quentin Tarantino is rich from making cartoon-like adult films.  It makes sense that they should make that their next frontier.

I give "Escape From Planet Earth" a C-. 

Bill Plympton