Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Idiots' Diary #3

So I've decided to self destribute “Idiots & Angels”. The biggest hurdle is finding a cinema in NYC. There are a whole lot of films looking for cinemas and not a whole lot of cinemas, so the trick is the find one that suites my audience. Animation fans.

A lot of people say that back in the 70's was the Golden Age of indie cinema in NYC, with venues like The Thalia, The New Yorker, The Elgin and Bleeker Street Cinema. Certainly it's sad that all those cinemas are now gone, but they've been replaced by a wider selection of film exhibitors; you have The Angelika, The Sunshine, Film Forum, IFC, Cinema Village, The Quad, The Anthology Film Archive and Village East Cinemas. These are just the downtown cinemas, so I believe there is a much wider selection now than ever before.

Another roadblock that I've run up against is the fact that most these cinemas prefer to deal with established distributors, because they're professional, dependable, and have other films in the pipeline. I however do not, as a habit, distribute films, and my next film in the “pipeline” will not be ready for another 3 years. So why should a theater show my film? Good question. Maybe because I've been in the business awhile, proved that I have a well-established fan base and they hope I can bring all the animation fans to their cinema.

So I began to call up all the distributors I know: Karen Cooper, who I worked with long ago when I first arrived in NYC in the 70's. She said her schedule is all filled up until the winter, but that's too late to qualify “Idiots & Angels” for the Oscars, which is another one of my goals with this film.

I'm afraid The Anthology is not quite my crowd. They cater to the more Avante Guard clientele, so I don't think my film will fit in. I was hoping to show it at Pioneer Cinema in the East Village (that's where I had a nice run with Hair High), but they shut down last year; a sad loss. The Village East Cinema had a strange message on their phone that said if you have a film to distribute describe the Title and Subject, and leave it on their machine. Bizarre! So I did, and never heard back from them. I think they preferred to have an established distributor talk to them. Dead End. I called the booker at The Quad where my film “The Tune” showed back in 1993, but again they needed to connect with an established distributor unless I wanted to four wall it for $8,000. That's my entire PR budget for NY and LA so I had to back out of that one.

That left me two options: IFC Center on 6th Ave in the Village, and the Cinema Village, also in the Village.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Epic Sketchbook: Irina Vinnik

EPIC SKETCHBOOK will be a recurring posting on Scribblejunkies. For episode one I'd like to draw your attention to the very talented artist from St. Petersburg, Irina Vinnik. Her graphic sensibilities with ink are truly worth a look and a comment. I also really like her more tonal pencil drawings. Enjoy sucka's.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photoshop evolution..

Interesting image to share with y'all.... geeks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Idiots' Diary #2

Many people think that if you can't get the Weinsteins or Sony Picture Classics to distribute your film then it must be crap. Perhaps for some films that may be the case, but let me talk about the differences between indie distribution and self distribution.

I showed “Idiots & Angels” to all the big guys in indie distribution and they all passed on it. They said they liked the film but weren't sure how they could distribute the film. Valid point. All of the indie distributors are geared for films that are live action, have name actors, and have big talent agencies behind them. I have none of those: it's animated, no voices actors, and no talent agencies or investors involved in the film. I simply made it myself. So a lot of distributors are reluctant to handle a film with so little going for it, in traditional terms.

So if no one wants to take my film to the cinemas, what options do I have?

      1. Put it on the internet for free and got a lot of publicity but no money.

      2. Put it on the shelf and forget about it.

      3. Find a distributor who will get your film out to a good number of cinemas, but because it was so expensive to distribute the film, all the royalties that I was to receive end up being spent of publicity.

      4. Self distribution. Now, I know that's a dirty word. It's supposedly for filmmakers who have crap films. But hold on Bucko! There are a lot of wonderful films that have done quite well with self-distribution, and sometimes it's really the only option if you want to make your investment back.

Here's the downside: it's a helluva lot of work. You have to learn how to become a distributor. You must make trailers, posters, flyers, postcards, press kits, hire a PR person, take out ads, make personal appearances, talk to all the press that's available and on and on. It's a never-ending chore that consumes all your time and most of your money. But you know what? If you want your film to be seen, and hopefully make some money, it's the only way to go!

Next “Idiots' Diary”, I look for a cinema.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ready for Guard Dog Global Jam?

The clock is ticking, sports fans. The deadline is fast approaching. We're nearing the D-Day for submission to Guard Dog Global Jam.

Just to remind people who aren't aware of what I'm talking about: On September 1st at noon EST – and not one second sooner-- we'll throw open our Plymptoons site to accept applications from around the world for artists who want to create a short shot for “Guard Dog Global Jam”.

This is a very exciting experiment for me-- to totally recreate my Oscar nominated short, as seen through the eyes of other artists.

I'm very anxious to see the dog as other people see him, especially in a wide range of styles-- drawn, CG, stop motion, claymation, etc.

In fact, it's very similar to having someone do your portrait; you get to see yourself through others' eyes. Well, the Dog is an extension of myself, so it's close to how I see myself.

The final result could be a total disaster, or it could be a totally amazing experience. Who knows how it will look, but whatever it is, it will be different.

So everybody out there who ever wanted to be in a Bill Plympton film, now's your chance to sign up on September 1st at noon! Time's a-wasting, only 7 more days, tick, tick, tick.

EKUNDAYO for this Wednesday...

Ekundayo is a great artist. The more of his imagery I flip through the more I get an appreciation for his distinct graphic graffiti style. I often tell my students not to worry about the entire drawing.. some areas will just kind of figure themselves out. If you look at any classic animator, their drawings are filled with invisible lines that the viewers eye just fills in. Ekundayo is a great example of someone who takes advantage of our eyes tendency to do this to an extreme. Below is one of my favorites.. it works despite over half the drawing missing. weird right? Ekundayo has quite an interesting bio as well, give it and a slew of other images a view over at Thinkspace. Later wussies.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Idiots' Diary #1

A lot of you people have been following my travails with “Idiots & Angels”. First, making the film, then, then in distributing the film. In fact, I always say there are 3 major steps in the success of a film.

Step 1. Raising the Money. This is a very formidable step, simply because it takes a lot of money to finance a feature film, and even though the script may be terrific, convincing the money people to invest if very difficult. This is usually the phase where most films fail. I self finance so I'm able to get through that barrier.

Step 2. Making the Film. Even though this is also a very dangerous part of the process, it's probably the most enjoyable. This is the fun part. It took 2 years to get “Idiots & Angels” made.

Step 3. Getting the Film in Cinemas. This is by far the most difficult and defeating part of the process. Getting the film in cinemas and getting money from the buyers. Only rarely have I been fortunate enough to get proper distribution and then miraculously get the money. If you've ever gone to a festival you're aware that there are thousands of good films out there that never get distribution, simply because there aren't that many cinemas that show indie films. The trick is to find places that will show the film and then actually make out a check to you.

Relevant to Step 3, I have some good news: I've just secured cinema screenings of “Idiots & Angels” in NYC and LA: the two most difficult (and expensive) of cities to premier a feature film in. So what I've decided to do is write a diary of the whole experience of getting “Idiot's & Angels” out to the cinemas and getting people to watch the film. So please watch this blog and the AWN blog for my up-to-date installments of “Idiots' Diary” by Bill Plympton.

More influences.. Nic Klein

Okay, to be honest this semi-pervy image below is what caught my eye.. but then i dug up a lot more stuff of Nic's that I like..
I'm not sure what's going on, i'm not typically impressed by sexy comic book style design, or comic book stuff in general, but lately i'm just digging it! Nic Klein combines a subtle painterly style to his illustrations that really works well... There's also some decent elements of motion/time features within his drawings (ie below) Also, some of the content is beyond plain interesting.. (yeah.. that works). The very often violent imagery tells some crazy stories. Dig.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Legendary Graphic Design..

I don't want to be that guy who always says it was better long ago.. but.. I'm going to have to be for a second. Enjoy images from classic design that we probably couldn't do today, and they did out of habit and for the mundane back in the day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Idiots' Diary

My new animated feature, “Idiots and Angels” is being released theatrically around the country starting this October. My big worry is no one will come to the screening. I have nightmares that it will be a cricket chirping cinema like in “One Froggy Evening”. So to prevent that from happening, we're looking to you, my audience, to come up with ideas to help promote the film. As you may know, I have an extremely small (embarrassingly small) publicity budget, so I'm forced to come up with unique and imaginative ways to spread the word.

One of the ideas that came from Ron Diamond is to create a diary of my experiences in self distribution of “Idiots and Angels.” I believe it could be very instructional and helpful for other filmmakers who lack big distribution opportunities. So watch this blog for the next few months for my “Idiots' Diary”.

So tell your friends to check out my Dist Diary on AWN and on my blog, and be sure to come see “Idiots & Angels” with my newest short as an opener, “The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger”.

Tissa David notes on Asterisk...

Richard over at Asterisk has posted some great notes from animation master Tissa David (bio via michael sporn). When I first moved to New York, and was desperately trying to teach myself animation, Tissa's notes were legend.. she taught me a lot about the basics of movement. I specifically remember her saying that a droplet is round.. i had never considered it being anything else but a tear drop shape, but it's only that shape when it's hanging onto something. very obvious, but when you're starting out it helps to have someone point out these things:)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scale with John Kenn..

John Kenn is a great artist who tells amazing stories with a single image. His drawings are addictive, and take us far into the place that he fabricates using a minimal monochromatic style of drawing. One of my favorite elements of his storytelling is his use of contrasts in scale. Just like Ron Muecks sculptures live larger than his audience, so does John Kenn's images, except that they are completely contained within an illustration. There's also a darkness and mystery that I enjoy with his work. John has overnight become a very substantial influence to my own work, hope his work serves to inspire you as well!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yury Ustinau images...

Very cool stuff by Yury Ustinau, who works primarily in black and white, utilizing silhouette, a very important aspect to design and staging.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I just went to see Inception by the talented Christopher Nolan. I've been a fan of his films for a long time. “Momento” was the first film I saw of his, then “The Prestige”, and of course the very popular “The Dark Night”, but my favorite was “Insomnia”. The way he twisted and manipulated people's emotions I always thought that was very effective. So when I saw the trailer for Inception I was very excited to see the film, especially the special effect with the city curling up into itself – that was particularly compelling. He always had a visual flair that was reserved yet very imaginative.

So while I was in Oregon I invited my good buddy and Oscar winner (jealous, jealous) Jan Pinkava to watch it with me. The film was getting massive buzz and the ticket line was very long, so we were high with anticipation for the complete movie experience. Half-way through the film I turn to Jan and ask, “Is this the 4th dream within a dream or the 5th?” and we both start to laugh. As the film finished, the whole audience started to laugh. Was this a big joke on the audience? A $100 Million prank? Or just a completely out-of-control art film? Whatever it was it was making a ton of money. What did people see in the film to make them want to go back?

To me it was like The Matrix film – if you put enough obscurities and confusion in the film people will put in their own meanings, then it becomes a very powerful message to them. To me it's just a confusing mess. What's with all those shots of the soldiers storming the snow fortress? Please Christopher – it didn't have to be a 2 ½ hour long film. It's too bad it's such a big hit – now he'll want to make “Inception II – the Deception.”

Scale with Ron Mueck...

Scale is power. Ron Mueck utilizes this concept throughout his amazingly realistic and often disturbing sculptures. I was thrilled to learn that some of his background is in film, transitioning into fine art in the late 90's. I've always been proud of my own background in television production, and i love to learn that other fine artists have similar histories. If you haven't seen some of his work in person, he's def worth seeking out. Mueck's early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children's television and films, notably the film Labyrinth for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo, and the Jim Henson series The Storyteller.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Calvin and Hobbes search engine...

This is an amazing site that searches all calvin and hobbes strips for content.. my favorite searches were, "alien" "homework" and "snowman".. I've now spent too much time on this, so I pass it to you. Thanks Dave.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Epic illustrations by R. Crumb for Charles Bukowski's short story, Bring Me Your Love. A must have. This one below contributed to my concept for "Puppet":

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moving graffiti..

This is a new one from INSA, (INKIE on letters) painted in Glasgow. It's very good. Enjoy.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If Pat Smith worked in an office...

This is just epic. Watch the whole thing, you have to log into youtube though.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dan Beckemeyer Food Typography..

Pretty cool stuff from Dan Beckemeyer. I'm always fascinated by objects that are organized to create broader shapes or configurations. Enjoy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

John Callahan

I remember back in the late 70's when I was teaching a summer cartooning class at Portland State University, we broke for a lunch break and a guy in a wheelchair wanted to chat with me. His name was John Callahan, and he had some cartoons to show me. The guy was quadriplegic, from a drunken auto accident he had in 1972. As I checked out the cartoons, each one was funnier than the last. Even though he had very limited use of his arms, the graphic style was quite compelling and original because the line was so uncontrolled.

I asked John to stick around while I showed the class his drawings as examples of great gag cartoons. Afterwards, I encouraged him to send them to National Lampoon, The New Yorker, and all the men's magazines. After a few years, his cartoons went into syndication with the enormous help of my friend Deb Levin. Because of his acerbic, politically incorrect art and his living situation, he became a media sensation. He was covered in all the newspapers and even had a segment in 60 Minutes. Unfortunately, his health worsened and sadly, he died last week at the age of 59.

I fondly remember when he came to NYC back in the late 80's to publicize his book and I threw him a party in my loft. I invited all the great gag cartoonists – P.C. Vey, Jack Ziegler, Michael Maslin, and Sam Gross, amongst others. He was in Hog Heaven. At the end of the party, he wheeled up to me and said, “This is the happiest day of my life.” If you have time, please check out his hilarious books and animation – he was a true genius.

Andreas Deja on Frank Thomas..

Some really great stuff of Deja talking about Frank Thomas in this segment of video. Sorry about the quality.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Glen Keane is ok..

Here's your monthly reminder why Glen Keane's animation should be dissected, studied, sent to labs, placed on alters, etc. This is what the drawn line is capable of.. get's me every time.

Below is my all time favorite Keane test.. power, weight, wish this had the audio, it's the part when Beast says "GO AHEAD AND STARVE!!! if she doesn't eat with me, she doesn't eat at all"

some great stuff in here below, narrated by Don Hahn, from the Beauty and the Beast extended DVD. Just deal with the cheesy disney doc style.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ridley Scott influenced by Gerome..

I love this... "Gladiator" is such a triumph on so many levels, it wasn't a surprise to read this quote by Ridley Scott (article here), citing Jean Leon Gerome's Gladiator painting as the reason he agreed to make the film:

“I’ve known Walter Parks, the head of DreamWorks for years, he came in and gave me the script and said, ‘I don’t want you to read it yet as it needs a lot of work but this is what it’s all about.’ He then showed me this painting by a French painter called Gerome, I looked at it and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He looked at me, shocked, and said, ‘But you don’t know what it’s about!”- Ridley Scott

As I watched "Gladiator" again, in preperation for this entry, the classical influence really becomes apparent in terms of cinematography, color, and dramatic compositions. Jean Leon Gerome is one of those ridiculously amazing painters that came from the apex of the french school in the late 19th century, that ebbed due to the rise of modern art that started with Manet and the Salon de Refuses. One of my favorite books of all time is The Judegment of Paris, by Ross King, a book that examines this incredible decade of art history.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today's Specials...

We'll put this stuff in the link section soon, but until then:

Bill Plympton on Facebook.
Patrick Smith on Facebook.
Patrick Smith on Twitter.
Bill Plympton on Twitter
Bill Plympton Wikipedia.
Patrick Smith Wikipedia.
Bill Plympton on Youtube.
Patrick Smith on Youtube.

Hope everyone is having an epic summer!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Films

Within the last 2 days I've seen 2 animated films that I think would be instructional to comment on. The first was at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival and it was a kid's matinee. It's a Japanese Anime film called “Oblivion Island” - a very charming story about a young girl who loses her mother and decides if she could just find her childhood mirror she could maybe see her mother again. So like Alice in Wonderland she follows a small fox down its hole into a spectacular world of lost or forgotten household items in order to retrieve her mirror. The technique is part 2D and part 3D, and the magical netherworld is a very rush phantasmagoria of colors and creatures. It must have cost a fortune – it looked great. I was very touched by the story and cried a bit; I guess after Toy Story 3 that's now the fashion for guys.

The other film was “Battle for Terra”, which came out last year and I just kept missing it at the festivals. The story is very clever and smart, about a faraway planet populated by seahorse-like creatures that are invaded by humans who have destroyed earth and need a new homeland. There are many similarities to Avatar. However, there are some inconsistencies. For example, since the Terra animals fly around, how is it that at times they also fall to the ground and injure themselves? Also, the other big drawback is the terrible CG of the humans. I realize that the budget wasn't big but the humans were basically stretched out fabric. Zero clothing wrinkle or detail in the faces. It really ruined the experience for me – which is too bad because the story had a lot going for it.