Friday, May 20, 2022

Anifilm, Czech Republic

Yeah! The film festivals are back in operation!  I'm starting to get invitations to far-flung festivals again, and that's very important to me for a number of reasons: I get to travel, I get to reconnect with my international animation friends plus I get income from screening fees and merchandise sales. 

The last time I was in the Czech Republic was years ago, when it was held in a cool spa town called Trebon.  This year, it was moved to a larger town, Terebec.  I stayed at an 18th century chateau - I felt like an Austrian prince without the sword.

The best part was hanging out with two of my best animation friends, Michaela Pavlatova, who was there with "My Sunny Maad" - a wonderful feature about emigrants in Afghanistan.  And then I got to hang out with my rock-star animator buddy, Hisko Hulsing - he's now the director of a smash Amazon hit, "Undone".  It's a very surreal drama using rotoscope in every frame - it's very cool!


If you're living in Northern California, I'll be making an appearance at the Mendocino International Film Festival from June 3 to June 5.  I'm doing a bunch of shows, one's a retrospective of my previous animated shorts and another one is a sneak peek at my upcoming feature "Slide", a country musical comedy along the lines of "Blazing Saddles". 

And I'm sorry if this is late notice, but I wanted to remind you again that this Sunday night, May 22, I'll be at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts for a special screening of the award-winning short film "Demi's Panic", written by Danny Leonard and produced by Danny and Lorena Leonard, preceded by a curated selection of my classic animated shorts.  It's going to be a fun film event with lots of guests - I hope you can all make it.  I'll do a free sketch (on a postcard) for everybody who attends, so buy a ticket now, there are still some available.

Again, it's the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington MA - Sunday, May 22 at 7 pm.  You can buy tickets at regenttheatre.com or use this link:

https://ci.ovationtix.com/36186/production/1120877?performanceId=11066006

Hope to see you there!  

--Bill P.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Thoughts on Ukraine and April/May events

 I can't believe April's half over already, and my schedule is really starting to fill up. I've been mostly isolated indoors for the past two years, just like everyone else, but now the travel restrictions and the mask mandates are getting lifted, and events are starting to happen again!  Last year I only went to New York Comic-Con and on one festival trip, to the Malaga Festival in Spain - and so far in 2022, I've only appeared at that sneak peek screening of "Slide" at SVA with co-presenter Signe Baumane.  (By the way, it looks like her film, "My Love Affair with Marriage", is going to screen in June at both the Annecy Animation Festival in France AND the Tribeca Festival here in New York.  That's incredible!  My congratulations go out to Signe and Sturgis and their team.  

Before I get to other events, I want to talk about the tragic war in Ukraine.  I must say, I've been to Ukraine and had a delightful time - and I was very impressed with the city of Kiev - or Kyiv, as they're now calling it - such a beautiful and warm city!  In any case, I have a wonderful solution for the current war situation.  If everyone in America who owns a few guns could just ship them over to the Ukraine and the heroic fighters there, the war could be over in just a matter of a few days.  Also, this would help cut down on the number of shootings in the U.S.  And yes, I'm available to go to Sweden to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.  

OK, now on to the April and May events.  First, I'm off to Brazil to make a new compilation of shorts featuring my "Guard Dog" character, who is really popular in Brazil for some reason.  The shorts will show him visiting Carnival celebrations around the country - they got delayed this year because of a COVID outbreak down there, but my sponsors say I should be able to attend some of the rescheduled Carnival events myself, which I'm really excited about.  So I'm leaving tomorrow, and I should be back in about two weeks.  

As soon as I get back in town, I'll be conducting an online talk with Signe Baumane for the Stuttgart International Festival of Animation, which runs from May 3 to May 8 as a hybrid event.  Our talk will be live-streamed on May 7, it's going to be a little like the show Signe and I did at SVA last month, where we'll each show clips from our upcoming animated features and also talk about film production, fundraising and life as independent animators trying to complete features during difficult times.  In addition, the Stuttgart Animation Festival will be screening/streaming one of my features, "Idiots and Angels", so please check that one out if you haven't seen it before!  

https://www.itfs.de/en/

Then, I'm flying to the Czech Republic, to attend a festival called Anifilm, where I will serve on the jury to award the prize for Best Animated Feature.  While I'm there, I'll also be presenting a Master Class drawing demonstration, and the festival will be showing one program of my classic short films, from "Your Face" and "25 Ways to Quit Smoking", "Guard Dog" and its four sequel films, up through "The Fan and the Flower" and "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger".  Also, the Anifilm Festival will be screening TWO of my features, "I Married a Strange Person" and "Cheatin'"!  Wow, I may be too busy screening features on the jury to attend these screenings, but you can!  Check out the whole program at:   

https://www.anifilm.cz/en/

And the weekend after that, I'll be riding up to the Boston area for a special show in Arlington, MA where we're going to screen "Demi's Panic" for some of the Kickstarter backers who helped make the film happen - this will take place at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St. in Arlington - and after the backers get their tickets, then the remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public.  But you won't just get to see ONE Bill Plympton short, I'm putting a whole program of shorts together, in addition to "Demi's Panic", you'll get to see "Your Face", "Guard Dog", a couch gag from "The Simpsons", and a whole lot more!  Plus I'll introduce the films along with writer Danny Leonard and producer Lorena Hernandez Leonard from Rock Farm Productions, who made the whole thing happen!  This special screening will happen on May 22 at 7 pm - again, at the Regent Theatre in Arlington MA. 

You can buy tickets for the Arlington event at the Regent Theatre here:

https://ci.ovationtix.com/36186/production/1120877?performanceId=11066006

You'll also have time in May to catch "Demi's Panic" at a few other festivals around the world, like the Stuttgart International Festival of Animation, May 3 to May 8, where it's going to play in a special program called "Pandemic Animation" featuring films that were about or produced during the pandemic, the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, May 29 to June 4, and the New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles, June 1 to June 2. 

And then I'll be appearing at the Mendocino Film Festival in California, June 2-5.  I'll also be doing two shows there, one program of my short films and also a Master Class, which will include short films like "Eat", "Santa the Fascist Years" and "Demi's Panic".  

https://mendocinofilmfestival.org/

I've posted a new "Making of" video for my upcoming feature, "Slide".  It's a clip of me coloring the backgrounds for the new film.  We are also coloring the film digitally, but I'm coloring keyframes for each scene so my new interns will know what color everything should be.  It's a lot of fun for me, and I want to do more "behind the scenes" videos that show examples of my animation method.  

I hope you can come out and see one of my shows in May or June!  

I've also included a new gag cartoon below - enjoy!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Crazy Town

There's a lot going on, all of a sudden, so I'll start with the easy stuff.  Signe Baumane and I appeared at the SVA Theatre on March 23, the show was called "Secrets of Indie Animators Revealed" and we had a very good turn-out - my thanks to all of our fans who attended, and thanks to everyone for bringing their vaccination cards and wearing masks so we could all comply with the COVID rules that are being observed at the venue.  The theatre is run by the School of Visual Arts, so they haven't waived the mask rules like some other theaters have, they have to think about the health of the students, which was fine.  

Signe showed her trailer from "Rocks in My Pockets" and then a clip from her new feature, "My Love Affair with Marriage", and talked about how she ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise the initial funds for her feature, then applied for grants from arts organizations, and then found co-producers in Latvia and Luxembourg to help finance the completion of her feature.  She's been tirelessly working on this film for over six years, and it's very close to being done, so I'm very envious.  

Then I came on stage and I talked about my fund-raising process for "Slide", I also ran a Kickstarter campaign (with some of the same people working on it...) but then turned to other sources like making commercials, music videos and "Simpsons" couch gags to keep my studio running during production.  And of course, we've both been making our features during the pandemic, a time when most other film productions had to stop working.  I showed two new clips from "Slide" and then we took questions from the audience.  

After the show, we both sold DVDs out in the lobby to our fans, so thanks again for all who attended, and to Terrence Masson for setting up the show and acting as moderator.  I'm going to start traveling again next month, and this was a great way to get back into the habit of speaking before an audience!



I just saw Richard Linklater's new animated feature, "Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood".  I saw it at the New York International Children's Film Festival, it was their closing night film and also a bit of a sneak preview.  Richard has made two other animated features, "Waking Life" and "A Scanner Darkly".  The style is sort of a hybrid of rotoscoped live-action and computer animation.  It's a very fresh new style of animation that is fun to watch.

The new film, "Apollo 10 1/2", is more of a memoir of Richard's own childhood, growing up in Houston, Texas during the midst of the 1960's space race - and the film concentrates on his memories of the culture of his youth.  So to me, the film was too personal for me to enjoy it - even though I grew up during the same time (I'm a few years older) I thought that what cereal I ate or what toys I played with just isn't that interesting.  I wish that the film had a little more tension and conflict.  I couldn't get excited about the story, I wasn't that involved - but I'm still a big fan of Mr. Linklater.  He usually makes great films, but "Apollo 10 1/2" isn't one of them.  

The other big news, of course, was last Sunday's Oscar telecast - I was sorry to see "Encanto" win Best Animated Feature - yes, it's a lovely film to look at, but the plot left me cold and there were just too many characters.  My favorite animated feature was "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", probably the funniest film I've seen in a long time. When I think about the film, I still crack up laughing - and it had a brilliant concept.  

The winning animated short was "The Windshield Wiper", it reminded me of "Apollo 10 1/2", since the style was also a hybrid of rotoscoping and computer animation.  The story was a bit minimal but perhaps that was what the Academy liked about it.  I much preferred "Affairs of the Art" by the genius Joanna Quinn.  I believe this is the best film she's ever done, and it makes me want to give up drawing animation, because I'll never be that good.  Keep going, Joanna!

And of course, I can't talk about the Oscars without mentioned the Will Smith / Chris Rock fiasco.  What's that old cliché about "sticks and stones"?  I hope the Oscars aren't turning into a thug festival.  And then there was the gag when one of the hosts - Regina King - brought four of the handsomest male actors on stage and patted down their bodies to check for COVID.  Now, I thought it was funny, maybe some women out there did not - but just imagine if a male hosts asked four cute women on stage and patted them down - he'd never work in this town again!  

I'm not against the comedy bit - I'm just sorry that people are so afraid of sensual humor.  And it seems like a bit of a double-standard if a woman can openly make passes at these men when the MeToo movement has been discouraging men from being this overt.  

In any case, the ratings for the Oscars were up this year - better than last year, anyway, and perhaps all this publicity will do them some good. 

As I mentioned, I've got a number of trips coming up this spring, to various film festivals in places like Brazil, Czech Republic and Northern California - I'll try to post my scheduled appearances here and on my Twitter feed and Facebook account.  My short film "Demi's Panic", co-produced with Rock Farm Productions, is also still on the festival circuit, and you can catch the film at the following festivals:

Cinequest, San Jose, CA, April 1-17 (virtual) and August 16-29 (live)

Florida Film Festival, Maitland FL, April 8-17 (screening before the feature "As Of Yet", another pandemic film set in NYC!)

Ashland Independent Film Festival, Ashland, OR, April 14-28

Festival of Animated Film, Stuttgart, Germany, May 3-8 (playing in the special program "Pandemic Animation")

I hope you can get out to a film festival or other in-person event very soon, that's all the news I have for now!

--Bill P.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Signe Baumane & Bill Plympton screening on March 23 and a new "Slide" clip!

I'm now going crazy, trying to finish the "Slide" pencil test - all of the artwork is done, and it looks great - but the art now has to be scanned, cleaned, composited and edited - but here's a new set of shots that we've been working on!

I also want to remind you all about the "Secrets of Indie Animators Revealed" Extravaganza at the SVA Theatre on March 23 at 6 pm.  It's a FREE SHOW, so come one, come all.  Remember that the theater is located at 333 WEST 23rd St. (do NOT go to East 23rd St., where the main SVA campus building is, you'll miss the show that way).  Also, remember to check with the SVA Theatre's web-site for the latest COVID protocols - we haven't heard yet that anything has changed, so you still have to be double-vaxxed - and you need the booster shot if it's been a few months since your second shot.  Also, you'll have to keep your mask on indoors, but that's a small price to pay, right?  Again, it's a FREE SHOW.

We'll be showing clips from "Slide" and from Signe Baumane's second feature, "My Love Affair With Marriage".  And we'll be discussing our different processes of making independent animation these days!  It's a rare look "behind the curtain" with two independent animators!  Plus I'll meet people after the show and give out free sketches at the merch table, until they kick me out! 


Now here's a new cartoon gag for you, also - see you on March 23!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Save the Date - special screening on March 23

I've got some exciting news for animation fans.  The School of Visual Arts (my alma mater) has invited both Signe Baumane and me to do a 2-hour show at their terrific SVA Theatre on 23rd Street, showcasing our new feature films and talking about the entire process of creating and selling an independent animated feature. 

Signe, who just finished her second feature film "My Love Affair With Marriage", will show excerpts from that and talk about the whole experience - and I will show clips from my upcoming feature, "Slide", a comic Western, and talk about how I survive as an indie filmmaker. 

Then, in between our talks, we'll discuss the difference in our methods.  We've done this before and believe me, it's not very polite.  We take the gloves off and get down to the real nitty-gritty of the animated feature culture and industry.

The event will be moderated by the Chair of the SVA Computer Arts Department, Terrence Masson - and then we'll open the stage up for a lively Q&A session with the audience. 

But that's not all - everyone who comes will get a free sketch from me, after the performance and we can hang around and chat.  

The whole event takes place on March 23, from 6 pm to 9:30 pm.  I know this is still a long ways off, so I'll be doing periodic updates and reminders as it gets closer.  Please tell ALL your friends, it should be a blast!  

Now, here's my cartoon for the week - 

Bill P.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Latest Donald Trump Scandal

As you all know, I never use this site for politics - but I just have to tell you what happened a while ago, it's all just too weird.

I came home from work one day in December, and while checking my mail, I noticed a large, brown-paper package addressed to me.  As I took it up to my apartment, I noticed a curious thing, it had no return address on it. Now, I'm not a paranoid kind of guy, but in these days of threatening phone calls and such, could this be an explosive package?  Dare I open it? 

"Oh, what the hell" I said, my curiosity was just too much.  So I put on a very heavy overcoat, and very heavy gloves, averted my eyes and gingerly opened the damn package.  Examining the contents, I realized it was just a bunch of typed papers - nothing dangerous there.  Or was it?  

As I began reading, I discovered the papers were from some whistle-blower, describing what he discovered while working in the Trump administration - some kind of scandal, as if there weren't enough of those already. But why send it to me?  He explained it in the preface - apparently the guy is a really big fan of my animation, especially "Your Face" - and he wanted me to create a film that would expose this "fiendish" plan of Trump's that was so strange, only animation could do it justice, it was so surreal.  

So here's the Trump plan: because Trump realized that his hold on the Presidency was lost, because of Biden's victory, he cooked up a cockamamie idea to invite Mike Pence to his lavish, gold-plated Trump Tower penthouse for a planning session on how to hold on to power - he had no plan to stop being the President of the U.S. 

And, as Pence would be walking up Fifth Avenue to the so-called "meeting", from the entrance of Trump Tower, Trump would step out on to the sidewalk with an AR-15 and fire 20 quick rounds into the body of the ex-Vice-President.  Of course, the entire scene would be witnessed by all the people on Fifth Avenue.

No one would know what to do - this is the President of the United States, who's gonna arrest him?  Plus, he still has a fully-loaded, smoking assault weapon.  So Trump would then probably casually return inside the golden entrance of his tower, laughing at full volume.  

The papers went on to explain how the President of the U.S. can not go on trial for any illegal act because he's so damn busy, so he's immune from prosecution.  Then Trump would move himself into the vice-Presidency role - I know this is a very unorthodox action, but Trump is famous for breaking rules and stereotypes.  

And now I see the purpose of this Machiavellian move - Trump realized that Pence didn't have the cojones to declare the Electoral College count a sham, so Trump had to get rid of Pence, any way he could, so this was Trump's way of solving the problem.  Of course, this was just a "Plan B" solution for Trump's re-election dilemma - it was cooked up by Rudy Giuliani and his gang of sleazy attorneys (wait, that's redundant...).

Apparently, Trump never executed Plan B, the rumor was that he was afraid that the bad press from the assassination of his stalwart Vice President would have depressed the rental value of his precious Trump Tower suites.  

You probably don't believe my story - but just watch when the January 6 committee commences in person and releases the results of their investigation on worldwide TV. Some of these wacky plans are going to spill out into the harsh light of the TV cameras - and them come and ask me about the notorious Plan B - and I'll laugh in your face!

Next time, I'll have a big announcement about a fabulous upcoming event that I will be a part of - Stay tuned!

--Bill P.

Friday, January 21, 2022

"The Tune" - 30th Anniversary of Sundance screening

Well, it's that time of year again, the Sundance Film Festival is happening again, though it's all virtual this year, as it was last time around.  

About 30 years ago, I went to my second Sundance Festival, to screen my epic "drawn by one person" feature film, "The Tune". I had been there once before with my short film, "How to Kiss" - and Sundance was just kind of taking off as the place to be to see indie films.  In fact, weirdly I was kind of a media star at the time - because they were running my shorts on MTV.  I got to meet and hang out with people like Ethel Kennedy, Faye Dunaway, the beautiful Jennifer Beals and a young first-time filmmaker and big fan of mine, named Quentin Tarantino.  He was there with "Reservoir Dogs", which was a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize that year.  

It was a great event, the audience loved "The Tune" and I was very high on the experience.  

Just last week, I got an e-mail from a fan named Randy, who gave me his take on the Sundance screening - and so, here it is:

Mr. Plympton, I hope this short e-mail reaches you so that I can thank you personally. In early 1992, as a college student, I was set up on a blind date and being in Utah I thought the perfect idea would be to attend the Sundance film festival.  I chose your film "The Tune" because it was described as a musical and I am quite fond of all styles of music. I bought two tickets for the film and was told they would be waiting at the Park City ticket office until 7 pm. At 6 pm I picked up my date in Provo and we headed toward Park City thinking we had plenty of time to arrive. However, after being held up in traffic for the first 30 minutes I began to be quite nervous and, needless to say, I began to drive a bit fast and maybe even reckless. I was NOT going to miss this film. My date was clearly nervous by my driving and hardly said two words the entire drive. We arrived at the ticket office  *wipes brow* with 5 minutes to spare and collected our tickets to the film. All the way to the theatre and on the way to our seats she was again quiet and serious. My jokes fell flat and it was clear this date was bombing. I remember thinking to myself that there would definitely not be a second date and the sooner the date could end, the better. And then a miracle occurred. "The Tune" played to a packed house (as I recall) and it was both incredibly funny and wonderfully entertaining. At one point I remember looking over at my date and literally seeing her laughing so hard she was crying real tears. This is not an exaggeration. I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, I guess she does have a sense of humor after all. I suppose I could ask her out again." And that is exactly what I did. This year is our 30th wedding anniversary. 4 kids and 2 dogs later, we are all big, big fans. Of course I bought a DVD copy of "The Tune" and it has been watched dozens and dozens of times in our home. My kids know all the songs and it is often quoted at the dinner table. And I expect the love will be passed along to the next generation. But most importantly they know it as the film that enabled Mom and Dad to fall in love. I have read your coffee table book cover to cover and it brings great insight to your struggles and successes over the years. Thank you for making "The Tune" and thereby bringing us 30 years of marital bliss. I am forever in your debt. 

Randy also made a picture book out of this story and sent me a couple of pages: 


That's such a great story! My thanks to Randy for sending this along, and allowing me to post it!  

If you have any great stories about seeing "The Tune" 30 years ago, or any of my other movies, please share them!

--Bill P.

Monday, January 3, 2022

A Face in the Crowd

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone!  

I've just returned from my fun Oregon holiday vacation - and back to working on my new Simpsons couch gag - and as I hand color the art, I usually watch a movie on TV.  This time I happened to switch on a classic film, "A Face in the Crowd" by the great Elia Kazan, starring Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau and Andy Griffith (definitely playing out of character). 

Even though I've seen the film multiple times and it's one of my all-time favorite films, until now I never realized the similarities between Andy Griffith's character, Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes and our current ex-President. 

If you haven't seen this gem of a film, it's about a rural Southern singer and raconteur, who becomes a giant TV celebrity.  I know, you're all saying, "Wait, that doesn't sound like Trump!"  But the similarities lie in the fact that he plays an outspoken folk hero populist and his fans are right out of Trump's fan base, the ones who attend his rallies - simple, down-home folk.  And as Lonesome Rhodes' crowds grow to become a "basket of deplorables", he decides to go into politics, lies to everyone and eventually goes crazy.  

You might be able to find the film on cable, maybe TCM - if so, definitely check it out and see what you think.  I believe the character was modeled on former Louisiana governor Huey Long, who prided himself as a populist and then became something of a demagogue.  By the way, I don't know how the term "populist" became such a derogatory label.  I always thought of Frank Capra and Will Rogers as populists, and I consider myself a populist.  I want to make films that are popular with everybody, but I'm not eager to overthrow democracy and rule the world right now. 

Here are some pencil tests from "Slide" - I'm almost finished with the drawing part, and now it's on to post-production.  







Also, I'm including another gag cartoon here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

--Bill