Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Los Angeles Trip

 We still don't have distribution for CHEATIN', although we're talking to a few candidates.  Our plan is to try and get some award recognition to raise the film's desirability - it's already won over 10 international festival awards, but we need to get something big in the U.S.

The big ones (I call them the "trifecta") are the Annies (ASIFA-Hollywood awards), the Golden Globes, and of course, the Oscars.  They all take place in L.A. in February - and to qualify the film for these awards, I need to screen it in L.A. for a week.  So I went to L.A. to promote the appearances of CHEATIN' and "Footprints" (my new short) for their qualifying runs.

We hired a press agent, Theo Dumont (no relation to the great Margaret Dumont) to help spread the word.  So I was very busy throughout the week doing press and interviews.

                                        With Tom Sito and Jerry Beck at Dreamworks Studio

On Tuesday we had a packed house at Dreamworks for the ASIFA-Hollywood members to see the film. It got a great response!

                                                              On stage at Dreamworks

After making appearances at Dreamworks, Nickelodeon and Disney, to help spread the word, on Thursday night I went to receive an Indie Animation Icon award at the wonderful Hollyshorts Film Festival.  It was a fun event, I got to meet Anthony + Joe Russo, directors of the recent film "Captain America: The Winter Soldier".  And also Jon Heder of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Blades of Glory" fame.   He's a big fan, or at least he claimed to be.                             

                                        Being interviewed at the Hollyshorts Film Festival

                        With Jon Heder, Nicolas Peterson and Jonathan Martin at Hollyshorts

                     With Theo Dumont and Anthony Russo, director of "Captain America 2"

Opening night at the Downtown Independent Theater was a bit anti-climactic, a very small but enthusiastic crowd turned out.  I did a Q&A and signed cards for all the attendees, and during the projection I wandered around downtown L.A., which is a wonderful mix of old Latino culture, abandoned storefronts and old vacant movie palaces, but also some wonderfully restored hotels and restaurants.  It's assuredly a neighborhood in transition.

                        With Rick Farmiloe + Signe Larsen at the Saturday night screening

                               With Ken Mora at the Sunday night screening of CHEATIN'

                             Signing sketch cards for moviegoers at the CHEATIN' screening

As the weekend progressed, the audiences started to build at the cinema.  I don't know if it was due to word of mouth or what.  But maybe the good reviews from L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly and the Huffington Post brought some more people in.

The film was going to run at the Downtown Independent until August 21, but now the cinema says it will extend the run.  That's good news - but I encourage all you fine folks living in the Los Angeles area to see it this week, and please tell your friends - everyone who sees the film loves it!

                      With Adrian Urquidez from Disney and my old buddy David Levy.

                                   With comedian Emo Phillips at the Downtown Independent

                                                   With comedian Tom Green and friend

                              Drinking with Dave Foley from "Kids in the Hall" and "Newsradio"

--Bill Plympton

Monday, August 11, 2014

Los Angeles premiere of CHEATIN', August 15

Hallelujah!  My feature CHEATIN' is finally getting its U.S. theatrical premiere!

Tell all your friends in the L.A. area that on August 15, CHEATIN' will be opening at the Downtown Independent Cinema in L.A., along with my brand new short "Footprints" - and on top of that, I'll be making appearances at the evening shows on opening weekend, August 15-17.

I'll be there to greet the attendees, do a Q&A, and give a sketch and autograph to every fan.  I'll have DVD's and original art for sale.  I may even park cars at the theater and sell popcorn.

This is my big premiere, what I've been working toward for years, so it has to be a success.  If we get great reviews and attendance, then other cinemas will be encouraged to book the film.

Some people don't believe there's an audience for non-kiddie, non-CGI films - well, I'm here to prove them wrong.  CHEATIN' is a huge success in France, it's already won over 10 international festival prizes, and to top it all off, I'm getting huge ovations after every screening.

So, if you want to help me prove that there's a market for hand-drawn animated films for people like us (adults), please help spread the word, and bring your friends to see CHEATIN' at the Downtown Independent Cinema, it will be there only 1 week, August 15-21.  And if you come up to me and tell me you helped spread the word, I'll give you a special sketch.

Here's the address of the theater:

Downtown Independent
251 S. Main St.
Los Angeles CA 90012

and you can buy tickets here:

Thanks for your support - go, indie animation!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

San Diego Comic Con report

Sorry for the delayed report on San Diego Comic-Con.  On my return to New York, work was extremely backed up - my studio had no art or animation to color and composite, so I've been in overtime mode this whole week.  This is the first moment I've had to gather my thoughts on SDCC.

My son Lucas, dressed as Spider-Man for his first SDCC.  

                                             Lucas, a few hours later - he'd had enough!

                                  With David Slade, director of the upcoming "Powers" show.

                                    With Drew Friedman, illustrator of "Heroes of the Comics"

Financially, it was a good convention - the economy seems to have bounced back.  Although our DVD sales were down, we made up for it in art sales.  Also, for the first time, I offered caricatures for $10 a pop.  Boy, was that a mistake!  We had long lines, even fights over who was next in line.

Now, I love doing caricatures - it's a fun exercise for me.  But when I get asked to draw children, and they won't hold still, or someone asks me to do a group caricature, it's hard to produce a nice drawing.  The next day, we upped the price to $20 a drawing, and we still had a mob scene.  Lesson learned.  At the New York Comic-Con, maybe I'll charge $40 - that way I can really concentrate on the art.

                                           These great fans bought a lot of my animation art!

                                                  and then Power Girl even posed for me!

                                Sam Viviano from "MAD" Magazine dropped by my booth...

                                          and so did "Simpsons" director David Silverman!

                                 Things got a little slow on Friday, so I learned to play the ukulele...

Our panel was a huge success, mostly because Jim Lujan joined me on stage - he's a natural comedian.  We showed "Deep End" (big hit), "Footprints" (big hit) and then clips from "Revengeance" (very big hit).  Although the film is a long way from completion, Jim was able to put together a nice opening sequence from "Revengeance".

We also introduced Ken Mora's remake project, "Your Face Global Jam" - where anyone can recreate a part of my Oscar-nominated short, set to a new soundtrack.  It's going to be very cool!  You can find out more at 

                                                    Tom Sito also dropped by the booth....

Ron Diamond had a panel based on his "Animation Show of Shows", a selection of animated shorts that played in the mammoth Hall H.  He asked me to introduce "Drunker Than a Skunk" to a crowd of about 6,500 people.  That has to be the largest crowd ever to see that film!  The crowd there was mostly waiting for the "Game of Thrones" panel later on that day, but I'm still happy so many people got to see my film!

And then, right after that screening, I rushed over to the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival screening of the same film, before a massive audience of 30 people - what a difference!

                                              with the Maestro himself, Sergio Aragones.
                                  and here's Rich Moore, writer/director of "Wreck-It Ralph"!

                                                 Holy Hellboy, it's Guillermo del Toro!

The only really negative part of the show was when Sandrine and I raced out of the convention center on Sunday to catch our plane, and three San Diego cops grabbed Sandrine as she was crossing the street, and they wouldn't let her follow behind me - they forcibly took away her bags of presents.  She screamed and I returned to help her - fortunately she was able to free herself from their clutches.

This brings up a very important issue with the San Diego Comic-Con.  The huge convention center is right next to numerous train tracks and highways that separate it from the rest of downtown.  So, it's like there's a giant moat around the building, and it's tough to get across.  They have to realize that 100,000 people go into this building every day during the Con, and the only access is two tiny crosswalks.  The whole design is a disaster.  Sometimes you have to wait 20 minutes or more for a giant freight train to pass just to cross over to get to the Convention Center.

Why someone in San Diego city planning doesn't build a convenient pedestrian bridge, or a tunnel to help traffic flow, I can't understand.  But the cops treat the convention attendees like cattle, and it's extremely frustrating and difficult.  There was talk of moving the Comic-Con to L.A. or Las Vegas a couple of years ago - I personally prefer San Diego as a nice city, but if these traffic problems continue, I'd vote to move it someplace else.  Anybody else have thoughts on that?

                                                         I got to meet Marky Ramone...

                                 and Judah Friedlander, star of "30 Rock" and "Sharknado 2"!

                                They even let me go to the WIRED Cafe and check out all the
                          cool techno stuff there.  They took my photo for Entertainment Weekly!

I had a great time, met a lot of fans and drew a lot of caricatures!  And I'll be back to do it all again next year!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, August 4, 2014

Is talent learned, or in DNA?

This past Christmas at our family dinner, we were discussing my 13-year-old niece's beautiful Christmas card design, which was sold to a local bank for use as their holiday card.  The discussion turned to whether talent was genetic or learned.

My younger sister, who is a professional artist, believes that the Plympton family has an artistic gene that gives us a natural talent for making art.  I hear things like that a lot, that some people were born to be great artists.

However, I believe that's a bunch of bull propagated by jealous people who wish they could be artists, or want to believe that they could have been, if only they'd had the right parents.

As for myself, sure, I was good at creating art in school - but that was because it made me happy.  There was something very magical for me at a young age in putting the pencil to paper.  It entertained me.  Also, I really enjoyed the newspaper comics and TV cartoons, so naturally that's what I drew.  Plus, since I lived in the rainy climate of Oregon, I spent a lot of time indoors, drawing.

So, if there was any reason for my "natural ability to draw", it was all connected to those things - not any kind of artistic "gene".  But beyond that, I had ambition - I wanted to be a success and to live in New York City.

I had a number of artist friends in school who were, in fact, as good as or better at being artists than I - yet they never became successful artists.  One of them is a check-out clerk at a drugstore.  I believe they lacked the ambition or will to keep up the rigorous routine needed to become a great artist.   Not just to draw all day, but to study and push oneself and totally be immersed in art.

It takes a whole lot of dedication to be a great artist.  Picasso, when he was drinking and womanizing, painted all day - and not because he needed the money, but because it's what he loved to do, it was his passion. 

I sometimes create 200 drawings a day, and after a full day like that, I feel so satisfied and exultant.  It's like I was having sex all day long.  And that's what drives me to create art - not some creative gene hidden somewhere in my DNA.

So, all you fledgling artists, don't blame your parents - get out there and draw!!!

--Bill Plympton