Monday, June 1, 2015

Indie Philosophy

Last week I visited my "Scribble Junkies" partner, Pat Smith, at his palatial estate in Montauk, and as I browsed his animation library, I discovered a book by the director of the Ottawa Animation Festival, Chris Robinson.  It was a very cool book called "Unsung Heroes of Animation" and it listed short biographies of some of the interesting people making films who aren't big names - people like Ryan Larkin, Raimund Krumme, Steve Woloshen, and Ruth Lingford.  Basically, these are filmmakers whose work Chris loves, but he feels they don't get enough credit.

But what struck me was a reference to my films, where he said (and I'm paraphrasing) "Mr. Plympton will test his films at an early stage, and if the audience doesn't like a certain gag, he'll remove it."  And Chris was using this as an example of my lack of artistic integrity. 

This is an issue that goes to the heart of all creative endeavors - am I making films to please myself, or to please an audience?  There's nothing worse for me than sitting through a screening of one of my films and hearing tepid applause at the end.  My purpose in making my films is to get waves of laughter, and maybe a standing ovation.

To me, the audience is the god - not the critics, or the festivals, or producers, or funding organizations.  I make films for people to enjoy, I don't make films just for my own enjoyment.  What fun is that?  As filmmakers, we have an unwritten contract with the audience to entertain them.  If we can't do that, then we should find another occupation. 

One of my heroes is Frank Capra, because he was a populist and he made films that a broad spectrum of the public could enjoy.  That's my goal, to make animated cartoons that everyone can love - not just some critic in an ivory tower, or some academic theoretician or some government/corporate funding organization. 

The true independent filmmaker is someone who, over the years, is able to make money with their films and not rely on Hollywood, corporate or government funding.  That why to me, making films that are popular with the audience is the secret to my success. 

Over the last 30 years, I've created 10 feature films and over 70 shorts, and I've funded them all by myself, and that's simply because I make movies that people want to see.  And that's the independent spirit!

--Bill Plympton

1 comment:

  1. The world needs and has place for all kinds of films and filmmakers. Easy to digest and audience friendly films are like desert after dinner. But a nutritious meal must contain those unpopular but necessary veggies - films that are challenging audiences to make an effort to understand something that is not easily accessible at just a glance.