Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reuben Awards 2017

About a month ago, I read about how the famous Reuben Awards (sort of like the Oscars for cartoons) were going to be held in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.  Plus, they were going to honor my buddies - Matt Groening, David Silverman and the great Lynda Barry.

Then I thought, "Wow, that's something I would love to be part of."  So I contacted Bill Morrison, the president of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and said I would love to be part of the celebration, besides I have a place to stay in Portland.  So I was added to the list of attending cartoonists for their Memorial Day weekend event. 

Portland is already known as a "weird" city, so being invaded by a large group of cartoonists sort of made that title redundant.  The opening party was held at the headquarters of the company that makes the Wacom tablet.  We gathered on the top floor, with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade Mountains with beautiful snow.

Saturday there was a full day of panels, hosted by people like Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics, Matt Groening and David Silverman, and to top it off, a talk and song from the hilarious Lynda Barry.  I first met Lynda about 25 years ago when we both attended a big book convention in Washington DC.  We went out on the town to a crabhouse, got drunk on sangria and I discovered that Ms. Barry is the funniest woman in America.

                                                  with Lynda Barry, winner of the Milton
                                                    Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award

Then, at the closing night buffet dinner, I was invited to host a movie night, with popcorn and candy and I showed the Oregon premiere of my new short "Cop Dog", plus a screening of a trailer for my new work-in-progress feature, "Slide".  Both were very well received - in fact, I was shocked by the number of fans I had among these famous cartoonists, because they mostly work in print and I'm a TV and movie guy.

                                              dinner with Lynda Barry and Matt Groening

Since I started my career as a caricature artist and political cartoonist, I was happy to meet some old friends there - like Mike Peters, Bill Schorr, Jack Ohman, Dan Piraro, Mo Willems, Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine), Joe Sacco, Eric Goldberg, Howard Beckerman, Shannon Wheeler, Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts"), Jim Borgman ("Zits") and of course, my good friends Matt, David and Lynda.  I really had a ball.

                                                    with Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist

                                                           with Dan Piraro ("Bizarro")

                                               with Mo Willems ("Sheep in the Big City")

                                           with Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine art director)

                                                                 with Joe Sacco

In terms of weather, it was a very rare (for Portland) 90-degree, blue sky weekend, but I was so excited to see all my friends and heroes that I hardly went outside at all.  A big thanks to Bill Morrison for including me in this prestigious group.  I hope to be there again next year.

--Bill P.
                                                      with Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts")

Friday, May 26, 2017

ASIFA-East Animation Festival & Awards

One of my favorite annual events took place last Sunday, the 48th edition of the ASIFA-East Animation Awards, which are open to anyone who wants to enter their work -

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend all of the competition screenings, where the ASIFA members vote on the work - I was traveling to some far-flung festival spots to screen "Revengeance", probably.  In fact, I almost missed my own screening because I was in the middle of moving my studio to a new space 3 blocks north.

But I was able to make it to Independent Night, where they screened my new short, "Cop Dog" - and quite frankly, the screening didn't go very well.  Some of my favorite jokes got no laughs at all and my two biggest gags got just weak titters from the audience.  "Oh, well," I thought, "better luck next year."

However, when I got the invitation to the awards ceremony, they hinted that I should attend, which usually means your film has won something.  So I figured maybe I'd get Honorable Mention for Design or some other minor award.

The grand night itself was a blast, almost everyone in the NY animation community was there - Candy Kugel, George Griffin, Emily Hubley, the great Signe Baumane, and surprise, Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow Scribble Junkie, with his family.

Katie Cropper Klein was the epitome of a glamorous and efficient hostess.  The awards were given out very quickly and smoothly, then they came to the Independent Films section, and Pat Smith won 2nd Prize for "Pittari".  And then "Cop Dog" won the First Prize - I was shocked, and of course, very happy.  The Dog is back!!!

                                   accepting the award for "Cop Dog" from Katie Cropper Klein

The only downer was that Willy Hartland didn't win anything for his wonderful film "NYC Sketchbook".  We all retired downstairs for food and wine and celebrations - and of course, a lot of interesting gossip.

If you have a short film, you should definitely enter the ASIFA-East festival next year - it's a blast!

And now I'm off to the Reuben Awards, being held over Memorial Day weekend in my hometown of Portland, OR - where I'll be hanging out with Matt Groening, David Silverman, Linda Barry and many others - I'll give you a full report next week.

--Bill P.

                                                with my producer, Wendy Cong Zhao

                                         with Pat Smith, my co-blogger and fellow winner

                                  the ASIFA signal film, with drawn versions of Candy Kugel,
                                          Signe Baumane and me!  Animated by John Lustig

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Your Face"

I've been hearing from some fans who love my Oscar-nominated short "Your Face", and some even make their own versions of the film - which, by the way, I totally enjoy.  I'm not one of those lawsuit-happy artists.  (Just don't post the original version on YouTube, my office manager will find it and you'll get in trouble...)

Anyway, the question popped up in my brain - how many versions are there of "Your Face"? And wouldn't it be cool to put them all on a DVD, sort of like a "Your Face" collection. 

Then the thought occurred to me - if there are some real "Your Face" fanatics, perhaps they'd like to try and make their own versions of the short 3-minute film, how awesome would that be?

I know there's a sped-up version, where you can hear what Maureen McElheron really sounds like on the vocal track before it got slowed-down to make her sound like a man, and there's a "global jam" version in progress, where a bunch of people each get to animate a few seconds in their own styles.

So, here's the deal: if anyone out there has a new version of the "Your Face" animation (or song) or wants to create their own version of it, please send me a copy (or a link to a downloadable file) and I'll put it on DVD and on my web-site and promote the hell out of it.

Unfortunately I don't have the money or accounting services to pay the artists, I'm only asking people to do this for fun - and in fact, that's the reason I'm in the animation business in the first place - for the fun.

So I'll give all you animation freaks a deadline, any submissions would have to be finished by September 1, 2017.  I'm so excited to see how you all interpret the film - please tell your friends and spread the word.

Good luck,

Bill P.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stuttgart Animation Festival

After Annecy, I think Stuttgart is my favorite animation festival - I've been going there since about 1989, when I showed my short "How to Kiss" in a WWII bunker-style screening facility.  The audience then was quite small, because it was a young festival - but I met a lot of great animators and had a lot of fun.

Well, since then the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, because Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes-Benz, and they are one of the sponsors.  The festival takes very good care of the filmmakers and offers some of the largest prizes on the festival circuit.

It was a busy week for me in Stuttgart this year - I had my new feature "Revengeance" (co-directed with Jim Lujan) in competition, plus two new shorts, "Cop Dog" and also my environmental music video "No Snow for Christmas" (music by Maureen McElheron).  Plus, "Guard Dog" was included in their "Best of" animation program.  And then, as I was taking a break on the giant lawn, I saw my film "The Loneliest Stoplight" being projected on the jumbo outdoor screen.  Finally, they had a work-in-progress presentation, where I showed clips from my upcoming feature, "Slide" - so all that should give you an idea about how busy I was!  

Recently, they've added a new section called FMX - basically, a gathering of artists interested in special effects, games and new technology.  This year, the emphasis was on virtual reality.  The FMX has become a giant magnet for digital artists from all over the world, and that only adds to the prestige of the Stuttgart Festival.

Because of FMX, I got to hang out this time with a lot of my favorite filmmakers, like Peter Lord and David Sproxton of Aardman fame, Jan Pinkava of Google, Jean-Michel Blottière (the manager of FMX), Joanna Priestley, Ann Marie Fleming, and my new favorite animator, Robert Valley.  I went to his (very) late-night presentation and was blown away by his style, storytelling and sexy women.  He lives in Vancouver, so I rarely get to meet him - it was great to hang out with him a bit.

But the "creme de la creme" came on the closing night, when I got to honor the great Bruno Bozzetto with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  He's been such an inspiration to me, so it seemed perfect for me to present him with this prestigious award.  And what a modest gentleman he is - definitely check out his short films, and of course, his classic feature, "Allegro non Troppo".

I want to personally thank the festival team for making me feel so comfortable in Stuttgart.  The only bad part of the festival was that the weather sucked.  The last time I visited Stuttgart, it was very hot.  So this year I only brought shorts and t-shirts, then felt like an idiot all week.

In any case, send your films to Stuttgart - it's a fabulous festival, I give it an "A".

--Bill Plympton

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pat's Weekly Gif...

Here's a good one, very timely, from Ted Ed animation "McCarthyism" enjoy..

This piece is approaching 500k views, check it out at Ted Ed.  And for those interested, please follow me on youtube, I have a few playlists of my favorite Ted episodes.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Follow us on Twitter!

So much different media, just make sure you're following me and bill on the twit. 
Bill Plympton and Pat Smith.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Worldfest Houston and Nashville Film Festival

Back in the nineties, I used to go to Charleston, S.C. quite regularly for the Charleston Worldfest - I fell in love with that town, the southern charm, the great food, the picturesque harbor and the fantastic beaches.

The director of that festival was a charming man named Hunter Todd.  But for various reasons, he moved the festival to Houston, Texas.  I think there was more financial support there.

Fast-forward to 2016, and I was appearing at the Gijon Festival in northern Spain (another of my favorite festivals) and it so happened that Hunter's wife, Kathleen, was a juror there - so we had a wonderful reunion dinner and Hunter invited me to his festival in Houston.

So, just last week I took a JetBlue to Houston for the Texas premiere of "Revengeance".  (I stayed at the Marriott Hotel that just happened to serve the best pancake breakfast I ever had.)  The film was playing in three festivals last week, in addition to Worldfest it opened at the Nashville Film Festival and the USA Film Festival in Dallas.  Worldfest Houston was, I think, the third screening in the U.S. and as I introduced the film to the audience, Hunter appeared and presented me with a Grand Jury prize for the film, which is very prestigious.  And then Kathleen presented me with the Career Achievement Trophy - Wow! What a bounty of honors! 

Not only that, but as soon as I returned to New York, I got word that "Revengeance" had won the Grand Jury Prize in the Nashville Film Festival's Animated Feature Competition - and that comes with a $1,000 cash prize!  Wow, what a weekend, three prizes in two days! 

I think festivals (and audiences) are really starting to dig "Revengeance".  I believe that the film, which is crudely underground, is beginning to resonate with people.  The long applause and standing ovationss are proof that the movie is something very special - we're now talking to distributors about a U.S. release - so watch this space for an announcement.

Thanks to the festivals for screening "Revengeance" and thanks to you all -

Bill Plympton