Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trip to Brazil and Upcoming NYC Screening

I've been to Brazil many times over the years, to festivals in Rio, Sao Paulo and most recently, Porto Allegre.  I just love it in Brazil - the climate, the architecture, the vegetation and especially the young animation fans. 

                                       In front of some of that great Brazilian architecture!

Last week I visited Sao Paulo to be part of a Centennial Celebration of Brazilian Animation at the Itau Cultural Center, sponsored by the Itau Bank.  I showed "Revengeance" and "Cop Dog" to a great response, and I also did a Master Class that was packed with young, eager animators.

Animation seems to be exploding in Brazil, as it is in many parts of the world.  Part of the popularity of animation there is because of a wonderful annual film festival there called Anima Mundi, which has been a wonderful success since the 1990's, and has screened many of my films.

Now, a lot of the animation industry is working on independent feature films, and one of the most successful of these indie animators is Ale Abreu, the writer and director of the very successful 2015 feature "Boy and the World", which was nominated for an Oscar in 2016.  Ale and I had met before, at the Annecy Animation Festival (where "Boy and the World" won TWO awards) but this time we got to hang out and have extended conversations about the Oscars, financing and creative aspects of animation also. 

                                                             With Ale Abreu in Brazil

He also gave me a tour of his studio/home and I must say, I've never seen a cleaner artist's studio.  If  you were to visit my studio in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, you'd see the opposite - boxes everywhere, stacks of paper, folders, art materials, etc.  I often lose important papers in the miasma of artwork that is my studio, which is bad.  However, everything I need is also at my arms' reach, theoretically.

So, if you have an animated film, be sure to enter Anima Mundi - and if you are accepted, be sure to attend, you'll love it.  Brazil is such a paradise....

I also want to remind everyone about our upcoming NYC premiere of "Revengeance", on Wednesday, September 13 at 7:00 pm at the SVA Cinema, 333 West 23rd St.  This will be a rare chance to see this wacky feature, created by Jim Lujan and me, for FREE admission.  It's part of SVA's "After School Special" program, and it's strictly first-come, first-served. 

We like to say, if Tarantino had ever made an animated film, it might look like this...

I'll be there in person, to give everyone who attends a free Bill Plympton sketch!  Also, as an added bonus, co-director Jim Lujan, who lives in L.A., will be Skyped in to join us in the post-screening conversation, and we'll talk about the origins of the film and what it was like working together to make it happen - it will be a most entertaining and illuminating evening. 

Please come, bring your friends and help us spread the word - and it's FREE!  See you there!

--Bill P.

Friday, August 18, 2017

P.C. Vey

Long ago, when I was a student at New York's School of Visual Arts, I met a young cartoonist, Peter Vey.  I loved his surreal sense of humor - in the very early days of home video recording, we created a homemade TV show called "There's Not Much On", also starring his wacky buddy, Chris Hoffman.  We'd get together about once a month in my East Village apartment and record our bizarre TV show skits.  It was terrific fun and I learned a lot about performing humor.  What was so cool was the style that both Peter and Chris demonstrated.  They always dressed in black suits and thin black ties, and this was way before "Reservoir Dogs".  This was at the peak of the 1960's scene, with all its hippy-dippy brightly colored attire - but their humor was also made up of surreal anarchy, which seemed to be very anti-business suit.  (I used to have VHS copies of "There's Not Much On", but I lost them long ago.)

Before long, Peter was working pretty steadily as a cartoonist for all the major publications - New York Times, Playboy, Penthouse, National Lampoon, etc.  (Actually, he worked for a lot of the same magazines that I started out on.)  Unfortunately, over the years many of these magazines either went out of business or stopped buying cartoons.   But that's OK, because P.C. Vey became the star of The New Yorker - it seems like every week he has a cartoon in it.

I believe he's even more prolific than Roz Chast.  It was through Peter that I became friends with a lot of the great cartoonists, like Jack Ziegler, Roz Chast, Felipe Galindo, Bob Mankoff and the great Sam Gross.  And Peter, along with Maureen McElheron, also contributed to the script for my first feature film, "The Tune", which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its release this year.

In any case, this is a long historical introduction to the photo below, this is me, Maureen McElheron (composer/musician for "Your Face", "The Tune" and "Hair High") and the great P.C. Vey.  I hadn't seen him for many years and this photo is from our recent reunion.  Anyway, check out his work and books, you'll love his stuff.

--Bill Plympton

Monday, August 14, 2017

Punch Everyone..

So I made a film in about two days for a fun little festival in brooklyn called "the dumbest sh!t I ever saw".. trigger warning: you will probably be offended in some way.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bits and Pieces...

If you read my last installment of the blog, you're aware that I made a trip out to the West Coast for Comic-Con.  Well, after leaving the Con we traveled up north to Oregon to see my family.  But this trip was more than a vacation, it was also a research trip for my newest project, "Slide", which takes place in a lumberjack town, high in the mountains.

As you may know, it's very common for the Disney studio to send concept artists and designers out to far-off locations to do research and preliminary sketches to create a film's environment and mood.  Well, this is what I did - Sandrine and I reserved a 3-night stay in remote Detroit Lake in Oregon, about 40 miles from the state's capital, Salem. 

Although, with a name like Detroit Lake, I expected run-down factories and burnt-out houses - and surprisingly that's close to what I found.  Even though the scenery is gorgeous, with miles and miles of evergreen trees and a crystal-clear lake.  But when I went to one of the few grocery stores, their basic selection consisted of beer, beef jerky and chips - I never knew there were so many choices in chips.  And the customers all looked like refugees from "Twin Peaks".  And sure enough, there were rusted warehouses and burnt-down houses.  What a contradiction between the poverty and the natural beauty of this place. 

In any case, we hiked to a nude hot springs, to sit in a hollowed-out log, and we were so overwhelmed by the beauty of the place.  We got more than enough photos and ideas for the logging village scenes, so much that I can't wait to get started with the backgrounds and storyboards for "Slide".  Here are some photos from the Oregon trip:

A couple of screening notes:

"Cop Dog" is going to screen at the HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, which runs August 10-19.  Then it's going to have its theatrical premiere in L.A. at the NuArt Theater for one week, starting on August 18. It's going to screen in front of the feature "Lemon", which will help qualify it for the Academy Awards, so we're very excited. 

And then in September, we're going to screen "Revengeance", my new feature co-directed with Jim Lujan, in a FREE sneak preview at the SVA Cinema in New York, on September 13 at 7 pm. 

Watch for more info on these events on my social media channels - and please help us out by forwarding our tweets and Facebook posts - or let your friends know about them via e-mail or even in person.  I won't be at the L.A. screenings but I will be there at the SVA screening in New York to give a seminar in independent animation.  Be there or be trapezoid! 

--Bill P.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Animation 101: Four Reasons to use INK..

You have your daily sketchbook.. you have the habit.. you have the passion for observation, exaggeration, characterization and interpretation.. Try using INK. I use a fine point sharpie.. they are cheap and look great. Here are Four Reasons to use INK:1. Ink teaches you to commit. I've always had trouble committing, in life and in art. When you use ink you simply can't erase or undo. You learn to live with your choices, and more than that, you learn to appreciate your unfiltered choices (which some would call "mistakes"). Your brain is way ahead of your hand, and this is illustrated literally in the form of line. Learn to love these lines that seem to come from your subconscious, those are the lines that are honest, and the more you respect them, the more you will trust them.. next stop, good drawing.
2. Speed. There's nothing more painful than seeing someone slowly carve out a drawing. Most likely that that drawing will not have a shred of energy or motion to it (even if it's rendered well). To achieve motion and force, I believe an artist must capture the image from memory, from an instant. Ink teaches you to throw lines down.. boldly and quickly. When you're a traditional animator faced with the task of drawing thousands of images, this comes in quite handy.
 3. It's clean and lasts forever. Have you ever seen a pencil sketchbook a week after that book has been carried around everywhere? without fixative (that spray that will eventually kill you if you breathe too much of it) those pencil drawings will become smudges. Archivally speaking (making up words ) Your ink lines will look great 20 years later (i know this for a fact).
4. It looks cool. Ink produces often wonderfully unpredictable results, the way ink seeps into different textures of paper is something you can play with. A colleague of mine uses a water based pen and often mixes his saliva with the ink to do tonal work.. it looks great in and out of the crime lab.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

San Diego Comic-Con report, Part 2

I told you I'd be back with my own report on the epic San Diego Comic-Con - and here I am about a week later.  Sorry about that but, I had to take a little detour up to Oregon. My thanks to my office manager for filing his report in my absence.

So this year was a banner year for Plymptoons at the Con.  I took part in a panel for Animation Magazine about the future of animation, moderated by editor Ramin Zahed.  The panel included Yvette Kaplan, Butch Harmon, and Shannon Tindle in addition to myself.  We had a packed house that seemed to bode well for the medium's future.

Then I screened two of my films - "Cop Dog", my new short, was shown in the Comic-Con Film Festival to a tiny crowd of about 20 people, who all loved it.  And then on Friday night we also screened "Revengeance" - but unfortunately we were scheduled for 10:45 pm, when many people are either attending parties or events, or maybe even going to bed after a long day at the convention.  They also listed the wrong time in the main program, so as a result we only had about 50 people there.

                              Jim Lujan and Ken Mora (center) at the "Revengeance" screening
                                     at the Marriott Marquis, with cast members and friends

But the big hit was the Plympton panel - I showed the latest Simpsons Couch Gag, my new ecological short "No Snow for Christmas", a trailer for my new work-in-progress feature "Slide", and the first of my 6-part epic music video series for blues rocker Jackie Greene.  As the topper, both Jim Lujan and Matthew Modine were with me for the panel, and also helped me introduce the trailer for "Revengeance", which the audience loved!!  Matthew talked about working with Kubrick on "Full Metal Jacket", I talked about "Slide" and "Revengeance" and Jim kept everyone laughing.  It was a love fest riot!

                       On the "Beyond Revengeance" panel with Jim Lujan and Matthew Modine.

                                                           Matthew Modine in my booth!

Our booth was busy, although not quite as busy as last year.  The big sellers this year were my original animation art, and the caricatures I drew for the fans.  At one particularly busy period, I had a big group of people waiting to either buy or chat, and I was right in the middle of drawing a caricature.  Then my son Lucas yelled at me, "Daddy, I have to poop!"  My wife Sandrine was far away, wandering the aisles and only John H. was with me in the booth  - so I had to tell everyone to excuse me while I took my son to the bathroom.  Surprisingly, after that emergency, everyone was still waiting at the booth to get their signature or drawings.

A lot of my good friends were there - Spike, Steve Tenhonen, Jerry Beck, Vicky Jenson (director of "Shrek" and "Shark Tale"), David Chelsea, Rick Geary and one of my super-successful Animation School students, Brian Giovanni.

                                                       with animation historian Jerry Beck

                                             with Vicky Jenson of "Shrek" and "Shark Tale" fame

                                           with author/illustrator David Chelsea and his sister

                                   with Brian Giovanni, one of my Plympton Animation students

Also every year Bobby and Kei Chiu hold a dinner party at a Brazilian restaurant, with exotic dancers and lots of roasted meat.  The group was filled with friends like Shannon Tindle, Chris Prynoski from Titmouse, and Pascal Campion - so it was great to catch up with them, since I live so far away.

                                              with Bobby Chiu at the Brazilian restaurant

                                                 with Kei Chiu at the Brazilian restaurant

                                                         with illustrator Pascal Campion at dinner

                                                          with Chris Prynoski from Titmouse          

I love San Diego and the Comic-Con, but it's getting too expensive to travel there and ship my merchandise back and forth, in addition to the cost of getting the booth.  So I don't know if I'll be coming back, I guess we'll see.

I want to thank all of my boothmates - John Holderried, Jim Lujan, Ken Mora, Matthew Modine, Sandrine and Lucas - and especially Kurt and Lori Jerman, who put us up for 4 days.

--Bill Plympton