Friday, May 31, 2013

The Prophet

If you haven't already heard about it, I'm involved in a very cool project.

There is an animated feature film being produced about Kahlil Gibran's famous book "The Prophet", with chapters being animated by different directors from around the world.  One of the producers of the film is the great actress Salma Hayek.

And I was honored to be invited to contribute a section of animation. 

At first, I volunteered to animation the section about pleasure - I got very excited about that, then the producers decided I'd do a better job on the section about eating and drinking.  So I started doing lots of sketches about food and booze.

In fact, the esteemed director Roger Allers ("The Lion King", "Open Season"), who is directing this compilation, was in town and he was kind enough to stop in at my studio for a visit.  He gave me notes on my section and hopefully soon I can begin coloring the short segment.

Anyway, it will be out soon in theaters, so watch for it.  There are some great animators involved in this glorious project.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Man woman

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Man str

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Man side

Monday, May 27, 2013


Sunday, May 26, 2013


Saturday, May 25, 2013


Friday, May 24, 2013

Between wars

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flight att

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Monday, May 20, 2013


I've known Chris Wedge since long ago, when he made the wonderful Oscar-winning film "Bunny".  In fact, he's one of the first guys, along with John Lasseter, who recognized and promoted the potential of computer animation.

He new Blue Sky film "Epic" is now in theaters, and it's a marvel.  It comes from the imagination of the great William Joyce.  And you can certainly see his storytelling and character design in the finished film.

In fact, Chris and William have been working on this feature for many years, and it took the executives at Fox a long time to greenlight this film.

But the wait was worth it!  The story is very engaging with the battle of nature, life and death, played out in the woods of the Hudson River Valley. 

If I do have a quibble, and it's almost always the same criticism of today's animated features, it's that some of the characters are not so well designed - especially the Queen of the Forest, who is voiced by BeyoncĂ©.  The artists tried to make her character look like the pop star.  Big mistake!  It totally took away from the fantasy element of the film.

Also, I'm getting a little tired of the Danny Elfman music.  I loved his early stuff for the cartoon shows, but now he's totally lost his edgy style.  He's become the new John Williams.

But, by all means, please rush out and go see "Epic".  You'll love it!

I give it an A-



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wilt Chamberlain Lost Interview Animated..

Wilt's family.
Another edition of PBS's Blank on Blank.. This week I animated Wilt Chamberlain. It was a fun design because you can't ever draw him too tall or lanky.. and I love his voice, clear and filled with bravado. Enjoy!

Wilt's spell with girls..

ASIFA-East Festival

As I've stated before - the ASIFA-East Animation Festival is one of the highlights of the animation year. 

Not only do attendees get to see the cream of the animated crop for the year, but also it's a great opportunity to see all the members of the cartoon community on one night, in one place.

The festival is divided into three categories - student, professional and independent.  So it's always a wide spectrum of filmmakers and films there - but also there are a lot of friends and fans that go to see the latest films from the East Coast animators.

The winning films are always screened, and afterwards there's a great party of food and wine - then we usually retire to a local bar to gossip about the films and filmmakers. 

So, if you live somewhere on the East Coast of the U.S., you should definitely be there.  It's being held on Sunday, May 19 at 6 pm, at the Tishman Auditorium at the New School, 66 West 12th St. in New York, NY. 

Plus, it's free!  So now you gotta come - I'll see you there!

For more information:


Friday, May 10, 2013

Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

I've just returned from the famed Stuttgart Animation Festival in Germany, where I was a judge in the feature film category. 

It's one of my favorite festivals, so it was a pleasure for me to return - but also, since I'm almost finished with CHEATIN', it gives me a chance to see what my competition is. 

They programmed 8 films for the jury to see:

"Wolf Children" by Mamoru Hosada, typical Japanese animé style of the offspring of a wolfman and a school girl.

"Approved for Adoption" by Laurent Boileau and Jung Henin from Belgium, a very touching story of a Korean boy adapting to a European family.

"Kirikou and the Men and the Women" by the great Michel Ocelot, the third feature about the clever little African boy, done in CG and 3-D.

"Pinocchio" by Enzo D'Alo - I found this fascinating because it was a true retelling of Colladi's 100-year-old story, unlike the Disney version.  Also, the backgrounds by Lorenzo Mattotti are amazing.

"The Suicide Shop" by Patrice Leconte - a French/Belgian musical comedy about a bizarre family that runs a store catering to suicides, obviously.

"Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below" by Makoto Shinkai from Japan - a visually interesting schoolgirl fantasy with Miyazaki-like creatures. 

"Rio 2096 - A Story of Love and Fury" by Luiz Bolognesi from Brazil - an interesting look at the history of Brazil through the lives of two revolutionary lovers, marred by weak art.

"Ernest and Celestine" by Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stephane Aubier - a beautiful and touching traditionally animated story of a bear and a mouse who fall in love and teach us about intolerance.

The other judges, Reinhard Klooss and Anand Gurnani, and I unanimously gave the prize to "Ernest and Celestine", which made our deliberation pass very quickly.

At the closing ceremonies, the top prizes for short films went to Hisko Hulsing and "Junkyard" (audience prize) and "Oh Willy" by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels.

I did two shows - a panel on Kickstarter that was jam-packed (everyone wants to join Kickstarter) and a workshop on CHEATIN' that was also very well attended.  It was interesting that a large number of my Kickstarter supporters were in attendance.  I love that the crowd-funding site is so international.

I want to give a big "Thank You" to my jury guide, Patricia Strasburger. 

and Thank you, Stuttgart!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, May 6, 2013

Les Blank (1935-2013)

I just learned of the sad passing of the brilliant documentarian Les Blank.

For those of you not familiar with Mr. Blank, Netflix 1982's "Burden of Dreams", it'll blow your mind.  It's a documentary on the surreal making of Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo".  He also created many other wonderful documentaries, including "Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers".

But I also had a personal relationship with Les.  I think it was very early in my career, around 1988.  I can't remember all the details of our meeting, but I was impressed with how he was able to sell his videocassettes at the end of his screening.

You could often see him at various festivals in his movie van, selling his films out of the back.  What a novel way to make money and spread the films to the local community, and also increase his fan base.  I immediately put the first compilation of my own short films, "Plymptoons", into production - and it became a big success, which helped to finance my other movies.  Bravo, Les!

I had another occasion to hang out with the great filmmaker at the wonderful Woods Hole Film Festival in Massachusetts.  He had the cabin next to mine, facing the beach.  Each morning he'd get up bright and early and go for a swim.  Not just to take a dip - no, he swam around the island.  As I saw him disappear over the horizon, I thought he'd never return - but an hour later, he came swimming back at full speed.  My God, he must have been an Olympian when he was younger.

That's why I was surprised to hear of his death, at the relatively early age of 77.

If you get a chance, check out his films, especially "Burden of Dreams".

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beastie Boys lost interview..

This one was fun to do. still wish i had more time to make these interviews, but i think they're coming out ok despite the crunch.  I grew up listening to the beastie boys so it was a particular honor to animate this episode of "Blank on Blank"...

for those of you who are behind on what i've been up to, Blank on Blank is an animated series for PBS that takes lost audio recordings and puts them to animation. Here's a good review from Heeb magazine. Enjoy.  Don't miss the others i've done so far, David Foster Wallace, Larry King, and Jim Morrison, among others.