Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sally Menke 1953-2010..

Sally Menke, responsible for Editing together "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" (her first Oscar nomination), "Jackie Brown," both halves of "Kill Bill," the "Death Proof" half of "Grind House," and "Inglourious Basterds" (her second Oscar nomination, pictured above). Her other credits include "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," Oliver Stone's "Heaven and Earth," and Billy Bob Thornton's "All the Pretty Horses." Menke died in Los Angeles, after going on a hike Monday with her dog in Griffith Park. Her body was found near a hiking trail early this morning, after a day where the temperature in L.A. reached 113 degrees. A great tribute below, thanks Jen Ruff.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guard Dog Global Jam - Opening Day

Just an update on my experimental film, “Guard Dog Global Jam”. As you may remember, submissions opened at noon EST on September 1
st. We were very excited because we heard a lot of buzz about people wanting to contribute to the film. So, with lots of excited anticipation we hovered around project producer Desiree Stavracos as she counted down to the magic starting time. We even had a video camera to record the momentous event.

5...4...3...2...1...0. Nothing. Nada. Empty screen! Where is everyone? It must be a problem with the international time zones – people got confused with the deadline! Or maybe it was just a stupid idea. What was I thinking? Why would anyone want to create animation for one of my crackpot projects?

I felt rejected. Another stupid idea. I was ready to shut down the project. Then, we discover that our mail server was down and no one could connect with us. Sure enough, as soon as we were back online, we found we had over 200 people signing onto the “Global Jam” and we only had spots for 70 artists.

In fact, four weeks after the deadline and we already have several finished shots, and they look great! So it's very exciting to see my crazy idea come through. I want to thank the people at Cartoon Brew for all their assistance and especially everyone who is participating in the grand experiment.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Animation 101: 5 Ways to End Your Story..

Coming up for an ending for your film can be one of the most difficult things for a filmmaker to do. I know animators that quit all together trying to figure out the ending of their films, and I know even more that tacked on a contrived or poorly thought out endings to what could have been a memorable closure to a great film. Endings are very important, I would say even MORE for a short, for it's only at the end that the audience will be left with their final impression. Here we go:1. -Establish what your character wants, and then, give your character what they want, BUT NOT HOW THEY THOUGHT THEY WOULD GET IT, or NOT WHAT THEY EXPECTED IT WOULD LOOK LIKE. If you can give the main character something unexpected, you can surprise the audience as well, and there will be a payoff.One of my favorite ending shots, Titanic, Throwing the Necklace into the ocean. The Necklace, an integral prop in the film, becomes a powerful symbol.

2. -Introduce a character or prop that had a minor role in the beginning, but now plays a key role at the end. Possibly this minor prop or character was ALL ALONG what the main character wanted, but just needed to experience something in order to see it/them in a different light. Just as in life, we often shrug off exactly the thing we want or need, unable to see it's qualities until we ourselves mature.In my film Puppet, it was fun to reveal that the torture will most likely continue, just with a slightly different face.

3. -Circular endings. A lot of people think circular or cyclical endings are a cop out, but I love them! and there's plenty great examples of brilliant films that used this formula. Creating a circular ending is easy, just end where you started, just with a different circumstance, or character. If done well, it can illustrate the endless cycle of common experiences that this world is often made up of.
Hisko Hulsing's "Seventeen" is a great example of using a time progression to establish the final shot.

4. -The time progression ending. I love this, basically at the end of the film, show your main character growing up rapidly after the ordeal that they just went through, and show how this experience shaped that maturity. This is a great way to show how your characters trials during your film affects the rest of the characters life. At the end of Hisko Hulsings "Seventeen" the main character is unable to escape growing up to become a version of the very men who persecuted and ridiculed him in his youth.
At the end of "Viewmaster" George Griffin reveals his technique.

5. -Back up at the end and show the GRAND PICTURE. This works well with more experimental works, especially technique heavy films. Basically what you do is at the very end you reveal the larger world that your story happened inside of, or the mechanics behind how that world was rendered.

Just a few things to avoid (in my opinion)
-"To be continued" face it, you never will.
-"It was all a dream".. cop out. Leave that to Biggie Smalls.
-Abstract ending that even you, the director, doesn't really get. If you don't get it, the audience won't either. Art and film is a language, and quite useless if you're the only one who can speak it.

This was a fun post to write;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Animation Backgrounds Blog

Every now and then I stop into Animation Backgrounds Blog by Rob Richards. There's always some nice gems waiting for me. He posted some epic winter bg's from Bambi the other day.. I'm so fascinated at the skill and spirit of these paintings.. and I then I realize I've been on his blog for an hour, devouring these amazing works of art, so head over at your own risk;)

Friday, September 24, 2010

OMG Kristofer Porter...

Stumbled upon this wonderful illustrator, he's quite well known to everyone else however.. and have been collecting and dissecting his images ever since. There's something very appealing about his grotesque story telling, and I just love the almost amateur style he uses water color (which isn't amateur at all!), very effective. Back in college I used to really be drawn to illustrators like Kristofer (ie steadman) and for some reason i fell out of love (got too buried within animation), but I'm back, and feeling that I've been missing out! note to self: draw more like Kristofer Porter. dig wussies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Epic Sketchbook: Tek!

Tek! has a great style, super loose, very motion oriented, perhaps a bit cartoony, but you can tell he is EXPLORING.. every image.. every idea he has. He's also wonderfully dirty, which I'm sure Plympton appreciates. I hope he explores further into the darkness and more complex themes that he touches on, because he truly does have a solid awareness of interesting little details (i love the "wedgie contest" drawings.. great stuff.. very character driven).

Monday, September 20, 2010


In 1989, I was invited to the Telluride Film Festival to present my short film "How to Kiss". Even back then, over 20 years ago, it was a prestigious film festival. I have vivid memories of watching Louis Malle at a restaurant after the premiere of his new film "Au Revoir les Enfants". And surrounding his table were 8 other tables occupied by the heads of the top distribution companies. Miramax, Samuel Goldwyn, Lionsgate, etc. each waiting their turn to be invited to join Louis as he consumed his gespacha and make a juicy offer to the U.S. rights of his new film.

As I sat at the bar drinking my house wine, I thought to myself, "That's what I want."

But unfortunately, I'd never been invited back to Telluride. Even though for many years they had Chuck Jones as an icon of the festival, they never really liked my films. That is, until this year.

They just invited my new short, "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger" to be the film playing before Errol Morrise's whacky new documentary, "Tabloid".

Telluride is an ex-silver mining town – that used to be occupied by the likes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—and when skiing became the fashionable sport the once-dying town became the St. Moritz of the Rockies.

Then in the 70's, Bill and Stella Pense and Tom Luddy decided it would be the perfectly isolated place to hold a film festival.

The drama of the very majestic San Juan Mountains makes for a visually awesome backdrop to the Labor Day weekend event.

And because it's so awesome, it draws some of the most important film personalities in the world: Ken Burns, Alexander Payne, and Leonard Malton.

Also because of its prestige, the organizers, Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer, and Julie Huntsinger are able to attract world premieres of some of the most important films of the year.

I was able to see the premiere of Darren Aranofsky's "Black Swan" starring the electric Natalie Portman. To me it was like "The Red Shoes" made by Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, and John Waters. The film was very polarizing—the women hated it and the men loved it. I don't know what kind of release it will get, but Natalie certainly deserves an Oscar.

Another high profile film starring Colin Firth and Jeffrey Rush was called "The King's Speech", a very moving account of Queen Elizabeth's father (George the Sixth)'s speech therapist. I know that sounds like a terrible idea for a film, but trust me, it's a glorious film.

One of the films I wasn't able to see but it created quite a buzz was Danny Boyles' "127 Hours". James Franco plays the mountain climber who has to amputate his own arm when it becomes trapped under a very heavy rock.

I heard that this is a very hardcore film and in each screening, one person fainted and they had to evacuate the person to the hospital. Now, I don't know if that was a William Castle type stunt, but it sure made the screening popular.

I was able to see two animated features there, one was "The Illusionist", Sylvain Chomet's beautiful realization of a very old scipt by Jacques Tati. I already saw the film in Annecy and was disappointed by the script/story. I felt it had no tension or drama and very little humor. But since then I heard from many people who loved the film—so I wanted to see it again to see if I was clouded by my overly high expectations. I was left with the same impressions and its too bad, because I think Sylvain Chomet is a genius and the film is so damn beautiful to look at.

The other was Chico and Rita, a Cuban/Spanish animation, by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, about two Cuban musicians and lovers who are always at odds. It's a lovely Rotoscoped film with gorgeous colors and a wonderful recreation of long-ago Cuba. But again, for me, the story was not that strong.

However, the main reason I was there was to promote "Idiots and Angels". I believe that since this is one of the premiere festivals of the fall, it would be mobbed with press—well, guess again. It's such an exclusive event that there were very few press people there, so I hardly handed out any press kits and did absolutely no interviews. But hey, that's okay. I had a ball hanging out with Ralph Eggelston (Pixar designer and director of Oscar-winning For the Birds) and Annecy artistic director Serge Bromberg—so it was a very happy time. But now I'm back in the city and in the middle of Idiots and Angels press.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

John Dilworth at 92Y Tribeca..

If you're in NYC, don't miss out on this epic event! John Dilworth is a good friend and substantial inspiration to both Bill and I, his film "Life in Transition" is one of my all time favorites for it's design, content, and use of music.
Academy Award nominated director and creator of Cartoon Network's evergreen TV series "Courage the Cowardly Dog" presents many of his award-winning classic short films including the underground comedy classic "The Dirdy Birdy" along with live musical performances and special guests! Thursday, September 23, 8:00pm - 10:00pm. 92Y Tribeca 200 Hudson St, New York, NY. 92Y is a fantastic venue that premiered my last film "Masks".. I encourage all you film fans to make a habit of visiting their theater and gallery space in Tribeca.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Daria Fan Art..

This is great.. Dana Terrace has some other good stuff on her deviant page, check it out. Thanks Connor btw.Daria and MTV was such an epic time of my life, rad memories the whole thing.. glad it's still kicking around out there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Animation 101: Bringing Back the Bag of Flour..

This will be a new series on this blog called "Animation 101", where I'll post my personal notes and sketches that I make in preparation for my lectures. Having been self-taught, I find teaching an interesting activity. It requires you to review material that you haven't thought about for years, and it reminds you how important some of these basic techniques can be!
Bringing Back the Bag of Flour... I gave a lecture last week in my Drawing in Motion class on thinking "around the form", and used the ol' half bag of flour to demonstrate what I was talking about. It really is an effective thing to practice drawing with. The bag of flour exudes weight, shape, volume, and even texture! (I told my students to add stitching in the front to further help in defining the form), but is also a very simple shape which anyone can draw.There's also an extensive amount of comparative anatomy between a bag of flour and the human form (see above). But most importantly, it breaks the habit of seeing drawing as lines on paper.. sculpting the bag of flour forces you to think about it's form, it's weight and how it sits in space.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guard Dog Global Jam - Opening Day

Just an update on my experimental film, “Guard Dog Global Jam”. As you may remember, submissions opened at noon EST on September 1st. We were very excited because we heard a lot of buzz about people wanting to contribute to the film. So, with lots of excited anticipation we hovered around project producer Desiree Stavracos as she counted down to the magic starting time. We even had a video camera to record the momentous event.

5...4...3...2...1...0. Nothing. Nada. Empty screen! Where is everyone? It must be a problem with the international time zones – people got confused with the deadline! Or maybe it was just a stupid idea. What was I thinking? Why would anyone want to create animation for one of my crackpot projects?

I felt rejected. Another stupid idea. I was ready to shut down the project. Then, we discover that our mail server was down and no one could connect with us. Sure enough, as soon as we were back online, we found we had over 200 people signing onto the “Global Jam” and we only had spots for 70 artists.

In fact, two weeks after the deadline and we already have 2 finished shots, and they look great! So it's very exciting to seem my crazy idea come through. I want to thank the people at Cartoon Brew for all their assistance and especially everyone who is participating in the grand experiment.

Idiots' Diary #8

I'm now moving into Phase II of my brilliant military campaign to spread the word about my animated feature film premier in NY and LA. This week, I've called up all my writer friends and press associates who have contacts with the media.

I'm trying to impress them with the gravity of the situation: I've spent a lot of time and money on this film, “Idiots & Angels”, and if it is a flop in NYC and LA, then it won't screen in theaters across America, I won't get a big DVD release, it won't get big TV sales, and then I'm broke.

So I need a big crowd for my openings. I want a line outside stretching around the block. I want a mob outside that's so excited about my film they break the doors down. I need 3 squadrons of riot police with barricades for crowd control. I want every animation fan, every Plympton fan, and everyone who loves movies pushing to get in to see my film. I want to see mobs of people; a Barnum & Bailey Circus with fire eaters, naked hairy ladies, giant elephants, and 3-ring circuses. I want to see a recreation of Woodstock with Jimi Hendrix, risen from the dead, playing the theme from “Idiots & Angels” and Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison harmonizing in a duet to I&A music. I want a crowd so big they have to shut down the NY thruway, the IFC Cinema becomes the 2nd largest city in NY state and they're all buying tickets to see my film.

That's what I want. Is that so much to ask for?

Well, only you can make my dream come true! Yes, you! Tell all your friends about the film. Hell, bring your friends to the opening. It'll be a blast; I'll be there. There will be prizes, free Bill Plympton drawings, you name it! I'll see you there.


Bill P

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bakshi Posters..

The Vaughn Bodé inspired movie poster for Bakshi's "Wizards"(1977) is a centrally composed masterpiece! I picked this non-repro bad boy up on Ebay for 20 dollars. Granted, the movie leaves a bit to be desired for the non-bakshi fan (I myself think it's brilliant). I'm not entirely sure about the Bode inspiration, to me it just seems obvious, perhaps one of our readers can chime in on that. I also have two drawings from the movie, one of the assassin, Necron 99, and one of the wizard Avatar lightin' up.In Contrast, I think the poster for "Cool World" is possibly one of the worst of all time. I got this one from Bakshi himself, but I was a little confused about how he "numbered" it with his signature.. I mean, there must have been thousands of these printed. hmmm. anyway, I'm actually one of the few people who liked "Cool World", my ridicule stops with the poster.

"Zombieland" and "Ugly Americans"

I want to give you 2 reviews of films I've just seen.

The 1st is “Zombieland”. I missed it when it was in the cinemas because it didn't sound like something I'd enjoy, but then people kept telling me how funny it was. Then, I saw the clip where Woody Harrelson plays the banjo solo from “Deliverance” and proceeds to lop off a charging overweight zombie's head with it. I was hooked! By then, though, the film has left the cinemas. So just last night I got the Netflix copy and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I saw a number of similarities to “Zombieland” and the bloodiest film I've every made, “I Married A Strange Person.” I give “Zombieland” a score of 9 out of 10.

The other film, or actually, TV Show I saw that had a lot of similarities is called “Ugly Americans.” I believe it's on Adult Swim. It's an extreme look at New York City as if it's been repopulated by all sorts of mythical evil creatures (Werewolves, Zombies, Robots, Vampires and Devils) but it's played like they're very common-place and part of the the everyday fabric of Manhattan. That's what makes it so funny and yet so true to New York City life: everyone here in the Big Apple is so extreme.

The design by Aaron Augenblick is wonderful – it reminds me a bit like Charles Burns (which is a good thing). “Ugly Americans” now ranks up there with “Sponge Bob” as one of my favorite TV Shows – I give it an 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Idiots' Diary #7

So things are going smoothly – I'm setting up a number of signings and showings in LA and NY. Then I'm talking on the phone to Tom Akel of MTV who's setting up a new animation web channel (he even wants to bring back Liquid Television) and wants to do some interviews and maybe show some of my shorts, when I get this panicked call from my NY press agent; the dynamo Phyllis Bishop.

Turns out another cinema is playing “Idiots and Angels” and IFC is very angry because they thought they had an exclusive run of the film in NYC. So I freak out because I don't want to alienate the IFC and I have no idea who else could be showing my film. I go online and discover that Cinema Village is opening “Idiots and Angels” on exactly the same weekend!

What happened was, I initially called Harris Dew at IFC in May about booking I&A because I have such a great history with the cinema; they showed “Hair High” there plus a lot of my shorts. They also hosted The Animation Show and, in April, Signe Baumann and I did a very successful “Battle of the Sexes Animation” there and it was a lot of fun. They attract a lot of animation fans.

So Harris never got back to me, and I became very worried that they didn't want to show my film. The deadline for the LA screening and the Academy qualification were slipping away. In a panic, I called my good friend Ed Arentz (who books the Cinema Village) and he said he'd like to look at the film for a possible run. I sent him a DVD and heard nothing. Oh my God, I'm screwed! It's July and I have no venue to show the film! The Film Forum is booked until the winter. I don't know how to contact Angelika or Sunshine Cinemas. I may have to show at The Anthology. Then, at the last minute, Harris Dew finally gets back to me and says he has a date! October 6th - the perfect date since it's the same time as the NY Comic Con. I can promote there like gang busters.

Since Ed at Cinema Village never called me back I assumed he hated the film, but then there it was on the website! Now, I'm very happy he likes the film, but I just wish he had called me to let me know he booked it. It's always great to know your film is loved, but they put me in a very awkward position. Reluctantly, I called Ed up and asked him to remove the film from his website, and now Harris is happy with me and I can continue to hype the Oct. 6th opening at IFC.

Thanks for reading my diaries.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Epic Sketchbook.. Colleen Cox.

Colleen Cox was a star student of mine last year at NYU, and her sketchbook always stood out. At it's best, a sketchbook is a daily journal, it's always good to develop the habit of using it as a place to observe, record, vent, anything. What I love about Colleens drawings is how she fuses raw observation with an impressive inked style and aesthetic. Raw, quick, streaming thoughts and images.btw.. You can watch her thesis film "Wrong Number Singapore" here, it's an animated real life phone conversation of two people speaking "singlish".. a form of english that they speak in Singapore.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 painting by Graydon Parish..

Painting by Graydon Parrish, "The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: September 11, 2001", in the New Britain (Connecticut) Museum of Art.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fern Gully..

Bill Kroyers 1992 feature "Fern Gully" is a bit formulaic, also annoyingly on the nose, BUT, it has some FANTASTIC animation in it! One of my favorite characters of all time is the Hexxus (voiced by Tim Curry) when he is reborn with help of a bulldozers smoke stack. Enjoy geeks;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Idiots' Diary #6

This week my goal is to compile a master contact list of friends, associates and acquaintances. Since the film “Idiots & Angels” is opening on the 6th of October at the famous IFC Center in NY and on October 29th at the Laemmle Sunset in LA, I need a groundswell and a firestorm of publicity. I want to get packed audiences; I have to have big long lines of people eager to see my new animated feature stretching around the blocks. I've sworn to do anything possible to pack the houses, as long as it's legal.

So I've gone back through my files and schedule books looking for people who'd want to come see the film. It's fortunate that for a long time I've been asking people I meet for cards or their phone numbers; I have quite a stack of addresses. The major problem being a lot of the people have moved or married or even died. The list is that old. That's where my trusted intern Endrich comes in – her first task is to go through my large stack of cards (bits of paper or even alcohol soaked bar napkins) and try to compile a mailing list.

Nothing pisses me off more that meeting friends after my film has finished its run and hearing them ask, “So when can I see your film?” I angrily say, “It's gone” and they naturally reply, “No one told me about it!” That's what I'm trying to avoid with the October publicity blitz. I don't have millions of bucks so I'm relying on the magic of the internet to help spread the word.

So again I plead: if you want to be on the Plymptoons mailing list or have friends who want to be on it please contact me at Keep watching this site for more updates on the “Idiots' Diary.” Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Epic Sketchbook: Liliana Teixeira

ok ok.. not sure if these are actually in her sketchbook or not, but her ink blot style screams out to me in a very sketchbook way, albeit an absurdly SUPER TIGHT sketchbook. Not sure what that means. Liliana Teixeira is a Portuguese graphic artist that works primarily with inks (digital perhaps), often having that finely knit fibrous quality that I love so much.. Bold lines packaged by thin strands that sculpt an overall shape. Dig it wussies.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Idiots' Diary #5

So now the craziness begins. I've got 2 hard dates for “Idiots & Angels”: Oct. 6th at the IFC Center on 6th Ave in NYC and Oct. 29th at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in LA. So like Patton I'm devising a 2-prong attack. First, I'll invade NYC using low-cost but more personal forms of advertising: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Skype. We can save a few bucks and then I'll turn my forces onto LA.

I called a meeting of my army to coordinate our strategy: Lindsey, Desiree, Endrich (our marketing intern), and Phyllis Bishop (our PR guru who helped with the Tribeca Film Festival press back in 2008). Another very important key to our mission is Alexia Anastasio; she's making a documentary about me (“Adventures in Plymptoons”) and is very proactive and knowledgeable about street PR. She couldn't be at the meeting but is an integral part of our PR campaign.

We all came up with ideas and methods to spread the word about “Idiots”. We also talked about articles in local publications and I showed them a 16-point list of article ideas that would be interesting to the average reader. If you, kind reader, know of any blogs or magazines that are looking for interviews please them contact me at

Probably the most salient point being that I'm kind of a one man band vs. these big corporate mega studios. Here I am, a tiny 4-person studio trying to eek out an existence vs. 500-person studios with $200 million budgets.

And so the countdown to “I Day” (“Idiots & Angels” Day) begins.

Monday, September 6, 2010

OMG Johnny Rodriguez..

In my never ending quest to bring art to animators and filmmakers (cough- what geeks- cough) today I'm featuring artist Johnny Rodriquez, otherwise known as KMNDZ. He paints a lot of robots, which makes all the hipster animation geeks happy, but his content and technique are worth a glance beyond the simple Juxtapoz mag spread.It's no shock that he had/has a huge commercial career, his stuff is very appealing to agencies looking for an interesting look... but his personal stuff is what really resonates for me. There's a lot of "crossing over" type content, and there seems to be a loud voice of personality trying to break free, coupled with a sorrowful mystery and innocence.. even discovery(above).. which is always relative to all of our lives. Enjoy, and turn off your TV.... wussies. oh.. happy labor day ya barney's.