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 clich√© 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.

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