Friday, February 24, 2017

"Revengeance" Festival Premiere in Portland

Being from Oregon, I thought it would be very cool to have the U.S. film festival premiere of "Revengeance", co-directed by Jim Lujan and myself, at the Portland International Film Festival.

I was very excited to be with my family and friends from the Portland area to show them what I'd been working on for the last three years. 

The great LAIKA Studios (whose feature "Kubo and the Two Strings" is up for an Oscar this year) helped to sponsor the show - they flew me to Portland and got me a room at the fanciest hotel in Portland - first class, all the way. 

Jim Lujan and his wife, Leann, decided to drive up from L.A. to experience Portland - unfortunately, that was the weekend of the worst storm in California in years - so they spent most of the drive dodging fallen trees, landslides and flooding rivers.  I gave up my hotel room and stayed with my sister so they'd have a place to recover from all that. 

Once in Portland, though, they experienced the warmth and charm of the city.  Our first screening was at the classic Laurelhurst Theater - we had a full house and the audience laughed throughout the film, even though they weren't necessarily all our usual core audience. 

"Revengeance" is really targeted at a younger crowd, maybe 16-30, and the Portland Festival is usually an older crowd, used to some very sophisticated films.  So it was very satisfying to learn that our film appeals to all viewers (though, still not suitable for children...)

It was fun to do the Q&A, because I was the straight man, talking about the history and creative process, and Jim was the comic relief.  You could call us the "Abbott and Costello" of animation. 

There was a second screening on Sunday, 2/19, at the Whitsell Auditorium, which is inside the Portland Art Museum. 

From here, the film goes on to other festivals around the country (it's already playing at festivals internationally) and then it opens commercially in France in early April.  So, if you know anyone who wants to help distribute a kick-ass film in the U.S., please contact me.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Revengeance" - U.S. festival premiere in Portland, OR!

Hey, animation fans - and I know you cartoon fans are out there - do I have good news for you!

My latest and greatest film is having its U.S. festival premiere this coming weekend at the prestigious Portland International Film Festival (Feb. 9-25). 

As you probably know, Portland, Oregon is where I was born and raised, where I began my career as a cartoonist and animator - so it's especially sweet that I get to premiere the new film there, and I will be there in person to present the film, and give a free sketch to anyone who attends -

Also, as a great added surprise bonus, co-director Jim Lujan will be driving up from L.A. to help me introduce "Revengeance".  Jim wrote the film and in fact is the main creative force behind this crazy political biker film.  He also designed the characters and backgrounds, did the music and created aboutu 80% of all of the voices.  I storyboarded and produced the film, co-directed and did all of the animation. 

So, if you or anyone you know lives in the Oregon-Washington area, I encourage you to attend, or at least help spread the word, to support one of the craziest underground films around.

Screenings will take place on Saturday, February 18, 8:45 pm at the Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside Street, and on Sunday, February 19, 2:15 pm at the Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave. (inside the Portland Art Museum).  Tickets and more info are available here:

By the way, a number of reviewers are comparing the villain of this film, Senator Deathface, who was a TV star that turned into a corrupt politician, to a certain elected personality who is all over the news these days.  However, Jim wrote the script about three years ago, so perhaps it's just the luck of history that these two characters are so similar.  But please come out to the screenings and see for yourself!

We hope to get a big crowd there, so I hope you can all come, and bring your friends!  Help keep Portland weird! 

Bill P.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Annie Awards 2017

Wow! What a great event!  The Annies were so cool!  I got there early so I didn't miss anyone - although, as always, there were some people I missed.

I arrived at the Royce Hall with Khorvash, who was one of my artists and was looking forward to making some industry connections, because she wants to move to L.A. for job opportunities.

At the opening reception, we talked to Jerry Beck, animation historian and president of ASIFA-Hollywood.  He's also hosting animation specials on Turner Classic Movies.  We got to chat with Henry Selick of "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline" fame.  We both got our start at MTV - he's working on a new feature film.  I also got to say hello to Ron Clements and John Musker of "Little Mermaid" and "Moana" fame - it seems they love stories about girls and water.

                                                                  Me with Jerry Beck

                                                                  with Henry Selick

I chatted with legendary animator Caroline Leaf - when I was just starting out in animation, she was riding high with "The Street" and "Two Sisters".  She was there to receive the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime career achievement.

                                                                  with Caroline Leaf

I met up with J.J. Sedelmaier, who was the producer of the Ford commercial I directed, "The Importance of Paying Attention: Teeth", which was nominated for the Annie Award for best broadcast commercial.

I also saw my old buddy, Ralph Eggleston from Pixar, the creator of the Oscar-winning short "For the Birds".  He's now working on Brad Bird's next feature.

                     with John Hays, J.J. Sedelmaier (2nd from left) and Ralph Eggleston (far right)

After a lot of drinks and hors d'oeuvres, we filed into Royce Hall for the presentation of the prizes.  One of the surprise presenters was Kobe Bryant, the great Lakers basketball star.  He took the stage with another star, Glen Keane, animator par excellence.  They were quite good together - they should have their own TV reality show.

The awards were fairly predictable - "Piper", the Pixar short, won and also "Zootopia", the billion-dollar box office champ won Best Feature, among other prizes.  We then all retired to the buffet dinner to chat and have more drinks.

I hung out with my buddies from "The Simpsons", Matt Groening and David Silverman.  I also got to chat with my old friend, Michael Dudok de Wit, maker of the Oscar-winning short "Father and Daughter" and the Oscar-nominated feature "The Red Turtle".  We both started out in the animation business in the mid-80's, and I'm so happy to see his great success using 2-D animation.

                                                         with David Silverman (far right)

                                                          with Michael Dudok de Wit

As the evening wound down, I was also able to talk to Jan Pinkava and Glen Keane about perhaps doing some work for Google, which would be so much fun.  Glen had a great success with "Duet" on Google.

                                                                   with Jan Pinkava

                                                                     with Glen Keane

I know this blog sounds like a lot of animation name-dropping, but all these people I mentioned are my heroes, and coming from New York, I'm very jealous of the great success these people are having.  So I'm hoping to learn the path to animation success from them.

                                                  with Rick Farmiloe and Christi Haydon

By the way, be sure to check out another New York animator, Signe Baumane, and her Kickstarter campaign.  She needs your help to make her next feature, please visit


Bill Plympton

Friday, February 3, 2017

Academy Award Nominations 2017

On another topic, they announced the nominations for the Best Animated Feature last week.  They are:
"Zootopia" - A terrific film that should win.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" - a beautifully-made film, directed by Travis Knight, that should have a strong showing.
"Moana" - a visual delight, but the story was too traditional for my tastes.

"My Life as a Zucchini" - with very untraditional stop-motion animation, but a heartfelt story.

"The Red Turtle" - by Michael Dudok DeWit, another visual masterpiece that proves that 2-D animation can compete with CGI for gorgeous style.

I was disappointed that some films didn't make the cut, like "The Little Prince", directed by Mark Osborne, "Phantom Boy", directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, and my favorite "Sausage Party", directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, and co-written and co-produced by Seth Rogen.  But I had no illusions that this would be nominated, still, it's a breakthrough film.

As for the short animated films, I'd put my money on "Pear Cider and Cigarettes", written and directed by Robert Valley.  It's a masterpiece! 
I'll be back next week with a report on my trip to L.A. and the Annie Awards!

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

L.A. trip - Annie Awards

What's Up?  Yesterday I flew out to Hollywood for a week - the main purpose for the trip is to attend the Annie Awards (animation's version of the Oscars) where my short commercial for Ford, produced by J.J. Sedelmaier, is in competition.  The commercial is called "The Importance of Paying Attention: Teeth" and warns about the dangers of distracted driving. 

I love the Annies, because I get to chat with all the hoi polloi in the cartoon business - I often get to meet people this way who I've long admired, and also get real insight into the animation industry - since I'm a real outsider in the business.

Also, now that "Revengeance" is doing the festival circuit, it's an opportunity to maybe do some deals that could benefit the release of this film. 

I don't expect to win a prize at the Annies - my Ford commercial is micro-budget compared to the competition.  The others look like they have million-dollar budgets.  But that's OK, it's fun to just be in the limelight momentarily.

Also, while I'm in L.A. I've scheduled some MasterClass presentations at Disney, USC and Dreamworks.  I guess they're mystified over how I'm able to survive as an independent animator, outside of L.A.

I want to show them some of my new projects - "No Snow For Christmas" (sung by Maureen McElheron), "Cop Dog" (it's almost finished) and of course, the piĆ©ce de resistance, a clip from "Revengeance".   

I'll post some pictures from the trip next week, and later this week I'll weigh in on the Oscar nominations for animated features and shorts.  Talk to you then!

--Bill Plympton