Animator Arthur Metcalf (Fantaisie in Bubblewrap) has debuted a new short just in time for Valentine’s Day. Composed, performed and animated by Arthur Metcalf.
Paint is a trippy live-action short from 1968 directed by West Coast advertising art director Norman Gollin. Why post it here on Cartoon Brew? Not only because it has the mesmerizing voice of Paul Frees, but because it was produced at the Haboush Company, which was the commercial production studio of animation legend Victor Haboush. I’ve known Vic for quite a few years and I’m always amazed by how many cool projects and people he’s been involved with throughout his career, from studying with Lorser Feitelson at Art Center, apprenticing under Tom Oreb for much of the 1950s on Disney films like Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and Sleeping Beauty, art directing Gay Purr-ee, starting a commercial studio with the inimitable John Dunn, and later directing hundreds of live-action commercials and producing experimental animated shorts at his own company. Oh yeah, he also worked on The Iron Giant. Somehow it’s not surprising that he’d be involved with a film as wild as this.
The painter in Paint is Charlie White III, a veteran airbrush artist who is one of four people featured in the new book Overspray: Riding High with the Kings of California Airbrush Art. White notes that Gollin shot the entire film without any re-takes. No paint-overs or practice; it was all painterly improv.
(Warning: This film might be considered NSFW, though most people would consider it art.)
Stephen Watkins, repped by Melbourne’s XYZ Studios, created “Tick,” a stylish PSA for the World Wildlife Fund. The piece, set to Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” (which has its own animated music video too), makes effective use of digital animation and CGI to create a hand-crafted feel. The agency behind the piece, Leo Burnett Sydney, gave the following brief to the filmmaker:
Sometimes it’s hard to get people to support a cause because they think, ‘I’m just one person, what can I do?’ We wanted to show individuals how their support can have a direct and positive effect on Australia’s natural environment. So we took the universal symbol for pledged support, the ticked box, and we animated it. Then that ticked box joined forces with hundreds of other animated ticks and they built habitats around some of Australia’s precious native animals so they can survive.
(Thanks, Tony Sykes)
Congrats to David O’Reilly who just won the Short Film Golden Bear at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival for his animated film Please Say Something. It’s a thrill to see animation take the top prize at one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals where distinctions aren’t drawn between live-action and animation and both mediums have to compete in the same category. (Don Hertzfeldt accomplished the same feat at Sundance in 2007.) O’Reilly’s ten-minute computer-animated short, a self-described Internet turbodrama that examines the “troubled relationship between a Cat and Mouse set in the distant Future,” uses a unique narrative structure comprising 23 episodes of exactly 25 seconds each. Below you can watch the first five of twenty-three episodes in the series. (On a sidenote, last December I also chose Please Say Something as my pick for the year’s best online animation.)
The NY Times published a lengthy piece last week about how DreamWorks Animation is performing financially. None too shabby is the Times’ verdict. “This company is a flower that is just beginning to blossom,” Katzenberg tells the paper. The studio’s features are obviously popular–their last four have outgrossed Pixar’s efforts–and they’re aggressively expanding with two TV series on Nick, theme parks in Dubai and Singapore, and the Shrek Broadway musical (which has flopped, according to the article). My opinion of the company’s output hasn’t changed, but their success can’t be denied. Katzenberg has clearly found a way to generate short-term profits by tapping into the audience’s desire for celebrities, crude humor, and pop culture-fueled entertainment. At what cost though? In my opinion, Katzenberg has sacrificed long-term cultural relevance (and profits) by ignoring the need for honest storytelling, meaningful artistry, and offering a unique point of view in his films.
(Thanks, Celia Bullwinkel, for the link)
Even though Motionographer posted this advertisement for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, I felt it was important to post it again on Cartoon Brew. Not because it’s visually impressive (it is), but because of the technique it “borrowed” for its production.
The creators of the spot–director Elliot Jokelson and NY-based studio Ghost Robot–credit recent Pratt grad Javan Ivey for coming up with the Stratastencil technique upon which they’ve based their entire piece. When Javan posted his short “My Paper Mind” on his website last year, he also posted technical notes on how he achieved the look. (We mentioned Ivey’s work in last month’s piece about 3D papercraft animation.)
The ethical question here is, If an artist comes up with an original technique and style and a studio decides to use it shortly after the artist puts his work online, should the original artist be offered a job, financial compensation, or creative credit on the project?
Let me make one thing clear: techniques can’t be hidden away; they need to be pushed around, explored, discovered. Computer animation would not exist today if not for the early SIGGRAPH conferences where artists and technicians openly shared their discoveries. There’s a big difference here though in that Ghost Robot and Ivey were not working collaboratively and contributing to each other’s artistic development. Ghost Robot took another artist’s fleshed-out technique and got hired by a client to replicate that look. Examine Ivey’s original piece and the Bonnaroo spot and you’ll see that they not only borrowed the technique, they brazenly took actual animation ideas from Ivey’s piece. In my opinion, if you’re a studio that’s taking money on the basis of another individual’s brand-new technique, it’s shamelessly low not to make an effort to have the originator direct the piece.
In the comments of the Motionographer post, Ivey notes that he was emailed by the director but he didn’t respond to their initial inquiry. Ghost Robot’s single email to Javan does not, in my mind, constitute a sincere effort to communicate with him, and since the director was emailing him, it was clear that they weren’t looking to have Ivey direct. They’d already sold the job based on Ivey’s technique and, more than likely, they wanted to make their own jobs easier by having the originator show them the way.
In my opinion, this is what it boils down to: how creatively bankrupt does a commercial studio have to be to troll the Internet looking for the ideas of college students to rip off? Is there nobody at Ghost Robot who possesses an ounce of creativity so that they don’t have to pitch the ideas of college students to clients? Sadly this situation is considered business as usual in the icky world of advertising where studios regularly repurpose ideas, technique and styles. And just as I feel it’s important to point out the creative people in this business, I also feel it’s important to point out the Jokelsons and Ghost Robots who coast off the creativity of others.
At the end of the day, Javan lost money and work because of this, but he’s gained credibility within the animation community by having the validity of his animation technique proven by an uncreative commercial studio supported by deep-pocketed clients. It should be pointed out that despite being taken advantage of, Ivey has been a class-act about the situation and tells Motionographer:
“This is precisely what I mean every time I say ‘I’d like to see someone try.’ Because I do, I love to see what someone else does with it. They’ve taken the idea and applied manpower and a budget to it, and I’m absolutely floored. It looks great. I mean, I’m kinda bummed I wasn’t invited to the party, but I really enjoy seeing what they’ve done.”
If Fritz the Cat had been done as an artsy independent animated film, it might look something like “Welcome to the Third World,” an offbeat video directed by Webster Colcord for The Dandy Warhols. It was produced through the now-defunct Orphanage. Artists who worked on the piece inlcude Jan Van Buyten and Eric Kilkenny, as well as a crew of students from DeAnza College and Ex’pression College of Digital Art.
(Thanks, Karl Cohen)
Randy Nelson, head of the in-house Pixar University, gives a 10-minute talk that offers insight into character traits the studio looks for when it hires employees. One of the primary factors is to hire people who are interested rather than interesting. Also, collaboration does not simply mean cooperation, but it means amplification–people who bring separate depth to the problem and bring breadth that gives them interest in the entire solution.
The first animated feature out of Laika, Henry Selick’s Coraline, opens in theaters today. Jerry loved the film, I haven’t seen it yet. The overwhelming critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is that it’s a solid film with a nearly 90% positive review rate. Personally, I can’t wait to see it. It’s so rare for any animation studio to start out of the gate with a film that looks and feels this different from everything else out there. Selick and company have created a gutsy film that appears to take risks and doesn’t repeat the tired formulas and conventions that make most animated features such a chore to watch. For that alone, the film deserves the support of the animation community, and you can be sure that I’m going to be planting my butt into a theater seat this weekend.
There are plenty of interviews with director Henry Selick appearing online. One of the smartest series of questions, especially as it relates to the techniques used in the film, can be found in this chat with the A.V. Club. Selick has this to say about the continuing relevance of stop-motion in a CG-dominated world:
“You know, I love stop-motion. I’ve done almost all the styles of animation: I was a 2D animator. I’ve done cutout animation. I did a CG short a few years ago, “Moongirl,” for young kids. Stop-motion is what I keep coming back to, because it has a primal nature. It can never be perfect. There’s always something like–[Points to the Coraline puppet on the table.] Coraline’s sweater, you can notice here that it’s sort of boiling. And that’s because people are touching it and moving it for every frame. There’s an undeniable reality that I don’t think any of the other mediums give you. You know these things are real even if you don’t know exactly how they move, how big they are. It’s something I got when I was 4 or 5, and I saw my first Ray Harryhausen film. I saw some monsters he created. So why still follow that in this day and age? Well, it has certainly been the age of CG, and the hits keep coming. You know, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s company [DreamWorks], they seem to have a formula. Pixar as well. And they make very, very well-made films with maybe the best story department in the world. But I do think there’s a part of everyone that likes to see handmade stuff. That’s what we offer. It’s never going to be the dominant filmmaking style. It’s always going to be the cousin off to the side. You know, the more eccentric relative of yours that some of the kids like.”
Another fun interview peppered with insider details about the production is this one which appeared on Ain’t It Cool News a few days ago. There’s also a profile of Selick in the LA Times in which he points out Laika’s questionable plans to build a new studio campus from the ground up. Those plans have temporarily been put on hold, and that’s fine with Selick, who’d like to see the company spend its money elsewhere:
“I’m in favor of no campus — let’s use our resources to put the movies on the screen. You build a campus after you’ve had five hit movies. And without a doubt, ‘Coraline’ will have an impact on the number of films put into production. If we do a little business, it will be a good first film — because then it will have proven its worth.”
As Selick alludes to in that last sentence, expectations are modest for the film’s opening weekend with forecasts in the $9-12 million range. One of the reasons that could prevent Coraline from becoming a smash hit is also the reason that it’s such a promising film: the fact that the original vision hasn’t been watered down so that it attempts to appeal to each and every member of the audience. Any animated film that takes chances also carries with it the risk of failure, especially with a general public that still assumes every animated feature is designed for four-year-olds. Films like Coraline will eventually broaden the audience’s palette for different approaches to animated storytelling, but they don’t guarantee instant piles of money like your average Kung Fu Panda does. Coraline‘s creator Neil Gaiman had the best retort about whether Coraline is appropriate for every child in America; in an interview with Canada’s National Post he said:
“Someone asked me last week if Coraline would be an appropriate film for their six-year-old son. I don’t know. That’s like asking me if their six-year-old would like mushroom soup. I don’t know the kid and so I have no idea what is appropriate for him.”
This article from The Oregonian offers the most detailed look at the business side of Laika and what Coraline means to the fledgling studio’s prospects. Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who started Laika, is upbeat and tells the paper, “Even if nobody goes to see it, we’re going to make another couple of movies at least.” But the reality is that no follow-up film is currently in production at the studio and, according to the article, their next feature might not premiere until 2014. To be fair, this lag is not uncommon in a start-up studio; there was a three-year lag between Pixar’s first feature, Toy Story, and their follow-up A Bug’s Life. According to the article, the film’s $60-70 million production cost went over-budget by more than 12 percent and the film was completed a year late. “We really got surprised a little bit on the production, on how complicated that was,” says Knight. “We were going along fat, dumb and happy.”
Fans of stop-motion (and intelligent animated filmmaking in general) have a lot to look forward to in 2009 with another major stop-mo film scheduled for November–Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox–and hopefully the wider releases of two indie films, Tatia Rosenthal’s $9.99 and Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max.
Yesterday, Stu Maschwitz, the co-founder of San Francisco-based visual fx house The Orphanage, announced on his blog that they’re “suspending operations indefinitely.” The studio, founded in 1999 by Maschwitz, Jonathan Rothbart and Scott Stewart, employed 160 people at its peak and contributed vfx work recently to Iron Man and The Spirit. If the hundred-plus comments on Maschwitz’s blog are any indication, the studio set high standards for the work it produced and was well-loved by its former employees. Its TV commercial unit is also shutting down, however, the LA-based Orphanage Animation Studio, headed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab) will continue to remain in operation. More details come from this Variety article:
OAS [Orphanage Animation Studio] and the Jim Henson Co. continue to work on “The Power of the Dark Crystal,” OAS’ first announced feature. Maschwitz told Daily Variety on Thursday that while the Orphanage Inc. had had an ownership stake in OAS, “The management of the Orphanage no longer has any ownership in Orphanage Animation Studios.” Maschwitz said that the company’s owners were unsure whether they would sell or liquidate, but “whatever we do, that money is going first to creditors,” including employees who have not yet been paid in full.
(Thanks, Karl Cohen)
During World War II, dozens of Disney artists were drafted into the US military. Today I’m sharing letters written by three of those artists who served in uniform—Berk Anthony, Carl Fallberg and David Swift. The letters were all addressed to Ward Kimball, who continued working at Disney’s Burbank studio during the war. Not only are the contents of the letters fascinating but also the artists’ writing styles which exhibit a surprising level of literary sophistication. I’ve annotated the letters with some information about the artists as well as references they make in their writing. Please add your own notes if you know any more about what is described in these letters. Click on each image to see the full page.
This first letter dated August 18 (presumably 1941) is written by Berkeley “Berk” Anthony. He is a mysterious figure in animation history and I haven’t been able to turn up much about his life and career. He began working at Disney in the mid-1930s. He was Ward Kimball’s assistant for a period of time before David Swift and Tom Oreb took over the assistant spots. I have no records on what he assisted on, but I’m guessing he helped Kimball with Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio and Bacchus in Fantasia. Anthony also worked in story on The Reluctant Dragon. He was drafted while still working at Disney. I know only two random facts about his post-military career: he designed the Arizona State mascot Sparky the Sun Devil in 1946, and according to a late-’90s interview with Ward Kimball, he committed suicide.
Notes about Berk Anthony’s letter: In the 1st paragraph, Anthony makes reference to Walt Disney’s trip to South America, which was happening during the time this was written. In the 2nd paragraph, Anthony mentions Carl Nater, who was the production coordinator for military films at Disney. (Nater later became the director of Disney’s 16mm film division and tried to suppress the release of Kimball’s Mars and Beyond to schools because he felt it “promoted evolution”.) In the same paragraph, Anthony also mentions his college background. If it’s not evident from his writing, he had an intellectual bent, and having seen a photo of the library in his home, it is also safe to assume that he was well read. In the 3rd paragraph, I interpreted one of his sentences to mean that he appeared in the live-action portions of Reluctant Dragon. I don’t have time to check the entire film right now but should anybody wish to search for him, I’ve included a photo of Anthony above from January 1939, dressed up for a costume party. In the 8th paragraph, he references Hardie Gramatky, the former Disney artist who became a well-known fine artist and author of the Little Toot series.
The next letter, dated November 23, 1942, is from Carl Fallberg who was stationed in Quantico, Virginia as part of the Marine Corps film unit:
The unit housed an impressive group of people including not only the animators that Fallberg mentions in his letter but also actor Tyrone Powers, director Richard Brooks and the future Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn. In the 1st paragraph, Fallberg thanks Kimball for the shot of #2, in reference to the train that Kimball was restoring at his home. In the 2nd paragraph, Fallberg references a live-action feature that he had made with fellow Disney animator Lars Calonius. The one hour and fifteen minute Western parody was partly shot at Kimball’s home using his #2 train, the Emma Nevada. In the 4th paragraph, Fallberg lists the Disney artists at Quantico at the time of the letter, who were Ralph Chadwick, Keith Robinson, Walt Smith, Charles McElmurry, Art Babbitt, Nicholas J. George, Don Lusk and Jack Whitaker.
In the 5th paragraph, he says that Frank Thomas was being considered for the unit; Thomas eventually ended up directing animation in the First Motion Picture Unit of the Air Force stationed in Culver City, California. As Fallberg states in this paragraph, Disney layout artist Tom Codrick would become the head of the animation unit in Quantico. In the 6th paragraph, he thanks Ward for giving animation pointers to his sister Elinor Fallberg. In the 9th paragraph, he writes about visiting his live-action filmmaking partner, Lars Calonius, who was in the Army’s Signal Corps film unit further north on the East Coast. (Calonius stayed in New York after the war and ran a successful TV commercial studio for many years.) In the 12th paragraph, he references G.F.R.R.–the Grizzly Flats Railroad–which was the official name of Kimball’s backyard.
The final letter is from December 28, 1945 from David “Bud” Swift, who was Kimball’s top assistant on Dumbo, The Reluctant Dragon and Education for Death among other projects.
Swift’s letter, written from England, is addressed to Fred [Moore] and Tom [Oreb] as well as Ward. Unlike Anthony and Fallberg who were working in film divisions during World War II, Swift was flying a B-17 Flying Fortress in the Air Force. In fact, he flew thirty-four bombing missions into Germany in 1945; the Germans had already surrendered by the time he wrote this letter. In the 1st paragraph, Swift’s mention of “Hal” refers to Hal Adelquist, the head of Disney studio personnel. In the 3rd paragraph, he writes that he wished he were back in the States, where women didn’t “carry pro kits.” A description of pro-kits can be found in this book excerpt on Google Book Search. Swift has a way with words, and after the war, he became a writer at Warner Bros. Later, he created the TV series Mr. Peepers and directed features like The Parent Trap and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.
Here is a photo of Swift (standing) and Kimball during the production of The Reluctant Dragon.
NY animation studio PandaPanther, whose work I quite enjoy, completed a quirky three-minute short called Zodiac Race for the Onitsuka Tiger line of Japanese shoe company Asics. It celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary with the re-telling of the Zodiac Race Legend. A director’s cut of the film can be seen on the PandaPanther website along with a ‘making of’ video that gives a sense of how they combined miniature backgrounds with the CG characters.
Here is more about the project from PandaPanther:
We were approached by Amsterdam Worldwide, previously known as Strawberry frog to produce a short film, along with an in-store display of an actual 1 Meter Diorama Sneaker which is currently showing in Amsterdam. The actual shoe was used in parts of the film as a backdrop and environment and functions in real life as a miniature race track with moving parts. We were given tons of creative freedom with the characters and environments, and also worked together with a great creative team at Amsterdam Worldwide to expand their script into a full epic. Because the film is for an online campaign, we were not restricted by a set time length and thus the film expanded to 3 minutes in order to give each character some screentime and to hit on all the key moments in the story. A big challenge was to make sure everyone involved felt their Zodiac Sign was represented in some way. We really enjoyed this project, it felt like it perfectly suited us, and we got the opportunity to use many of our techniques, combining miniatures, CG and cel animation.
This music video by Japanese artist Kondoh Akino (gallery website in English) constantly surprised me with its playful use of the human form and its strikingly designed movement. As best as I can discern, it appears to be from 2002 and was created when Akino was a student in art school.
The Submarine Channel’s subsite Forget the Films, Watch the Titles has posted the opening titles to the recent live-action film St. Trinian’s, based on Ronald Searle‘s classic print cartoons. Title was designed and directed by Paul Donnellon and animated by Petria Whelan. It looks like a low-budget job and points to how difficult it is to capture the spirit of Searle’s drawings in animation. Searle has been faithfully translated into animated form before, as in the 1957 industrial cartoon Energetically Yours and various commercials from the 1960s, but it requires a sensitivity for design and draftsmanship that isn’t evident in these titles.
Disneyana collector and historian David Lesjak has done a remarkable bit of investigation into the life of Carolyn Kay Shafer. Who you ask? Shafer was one of Walt Disney’s first secretaries in the early-1930s, married Frank Churchill (composer of classic songs like “Whistle While You Work” and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”), and died in 1977 penniless and nearly blind. There’s enough twists and turns in her life worthy of a soap opera.
(via Disney History)
Toby Barlow, author of the book Sharp Teeth, let me know about a beautiful viral created by Eun-Ha Paek to promote his book. There are more animated pieces related to the book at SharpTeethTheBook.com. I love seeing such an ambitious use of animation to promote a print novel; hopefully more animators and novelists will explore these possibilities together.
Every year, US households and businesses throw out 251 million tons of trash and our second biggest export to China is trash! Good Magazine packages these disturbing facts into a cute animated short called Mister Trash Can that’s guaranteed to make you feel bad about yourself. It’s directed by Garrett Morin, animated by Chad Colby and written by MacKenzie Fegan. The video is below but if you want a higher-res version, head to Good‘s website.
Just a quick note: if you’re part of the media (print or online–US/Canada) and would like a review copy of my new book The Art of Pixar Short Films (now with a striking cover of Luxo Jr.), then drop me a line with your details. Review copies will be going out soon. There’s a limited number I can send from my side, but I’ll try to get you on the list. I received an advance of the book this week and I think it’s a really nice addition to Pixar’s ‘art of’ series. I’ll also be doing book give-aways for Brew readers sometime in the next month or two.
Tomorrow, Saturday, January 31st at 4pm, there will a celebration of Bob Winquist’s life in the Palace at Calarts. Winquist, who passed away last September, is not a household name but he is an influential figure in animation history through his role as an instructor and director of the character animation program at CalArts. Disney story artist Jenny Lerew, who told me about this event and has done a number of posts about Winquist since his passing, said in an email to me:
Bob was a breath of fresh air, had no limits in what he wanted people to be able to do–no “censorship” as he put it, no preconceived notions of what our films should be. He wanted to discourage people from only thinking of animation as a trade, and in that sense he ran the dept. as a kind of atelier, as did Jules Engel downstairs, whom he respected. He was in every way what a teacher and mentor should be.
Bob had such a wide influence and was loved by so many people: it ranges from Bob Kurtz and the seminal members of the LA “Cool School” of painters like John Altoon and Robert Irwin, both former students when Bob taught at Chouinard during the ’50s and ’60 to Pulitzer-winner Ann Telnaes, Ralph Eggleston and Pete Docter–just a whole slew of people.
If you’re interested in attending, Jenny has more details about the event on her blog. And here’s an odd curio featuring a cartoon version of Bob Winquist–it’s an opening for the yearly CalArts Producers’ Show circa 1988 created by first-year students Chris Ure, Pete Docter, Mark Kennedy, Ashley Brannon, Van Cook, Tim Myers and Paul Rudish.
PictureBox, a fine Brooklyn-based book publisher who I’m currently working with, is holding a sale on nearly every item on their website. The sale lasts through February 8 and there’s some real bargains to be had. For example, their huge two-volume 688-page retrospective of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse production designer Gary Panter, which was published last year at $95, is currently only $30 through their website. Overspray: Riding High with the Kings of California Airbrush Art is a beautifully-produced look at West Coast airbrush culture in the 1970s and shows how it entered the mainstream advertising and film through artists like Peter Lloyd who created airbrush art for Tron. That book which retails at $50 is available for only $20. Also, pick up Paper Rad and Michel Gondry books for $7, Mark Newgarden’s Cheap Laffs for $6, and lots of quality art/indie comics at fire sale prices. Every order also ships with a FREE copy of Paper Rad’s DVD Problem Solvers.
Paul Greer created this viral for part of a Nizlopi song called “Without You.”
Though it’s not a recent piece, I thought it looked interesting visually so I asked Paul if he could describe the process he used to achieve this look. Here’s his explanation:
The budget for the viral was very slight and I had about three official working days to get it done, coming up with a method that would be effective and efficient was therefore key. Back in the days before computers, myself and fellow students experimented with ways of producing un-registrated animation, drawing on rolls of paper and cards and the like. To integrate this thought process into CGI has been something that has always fascinated me, and I have used it before on projects like “The Boy with the Incredible Brain”.
The whole sequence was drawn as curves in Maya, with a Wacom and then “inbetweened” using deformers. I didn’t have time to do any kind of shoot, so I photographed work colleagues, friends and family memebers, then rotoscoped the stills. These were worked in with improvised drawing and rotoscoped CGI (I had a second hand beating heart knocking about). The final result was very simple illustration of the lyrical content of the song, I would’ve like to have taken it further. I did storyboard the whole song, with a psychdelic bit for the upbeat section in the middle, but they only wanted the last third of the song done.
I think I’ve finally found a reason to have a kid: this traditional 1930s boy’s Japanese kimono decorated with images of Mickey is a beaut and it’s currently available for purchase. I’m not sure what I’d do with the boy after I dressed him up, but he’d look quite natty which is good enough for me.
(Thanks, Chappell Ellison)
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO PLAYED!
We’re giving away three pairs of tickets to this Friday’s screening of Emily Hubley’s feature film debut The Toe Tactic at MoMA. The screening is at 4pm. Please enter the contest ONLY if you plan on attending. The first three people to answer the following question correctly win tickets.
The music in The Toe Tactic is provided by a band that Emily Hubley’s sister Georgia is a member of. What is the name of this band?
Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, has taken Bart out of Springfield and plopped him into the real-world by using the iconic character to promote her personal religious causes. Below is a robo-call in which she uses Bart’s voice imploring people to attend a Scientology event. All I can say is it’s extremely uncomfortable hearing Bart in this context.
Director and animator Emily Hubley is embarking on a nationwide screening tour of her live-action/animation feature film debut The Toe Tactic. The film starts a six-day run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this evening. After that, she’ll travel with the film to Rochester, NY, Los Angeles, San Diego, Cambridge, MA, Williamstown, MA, St. Louis, Portland, Seattle, Houston, Ann Arbor, MI, and Austin. A complete schedule can be found at TheToeTactic.com. For ticket info on the MoMA screenings, visit the MoMA website, and be sure to check back tonight at 8pm (EST) for a ticket giveaway to this Friday’s screening at MoMA. We’ll be handing out multiple pairs of tickets.
I did a short e-mail interview with Emily to find out a bit about what she’s been up to lately:
For people who haven’t heard of the film, tell us a little about what The Toe Tactic is about?
Well, there are all kinds of reasons for those times in life when you lose your footing, but in this case it’s a young woman’s revisited grief for her dead father when she learns her childhood home has been sold. Her temporary withdrawal from the action of her life triggers the connection to an animated reality in which four dogs play a game of cards, the object of which is to get her back in step with the world.
As a short filmmaker, how easy or difficult was it transitioning to feature filmmaking? Was there any aspect of the production that took you by surprise or was it fairly similar to the short film process?
Everything was more complicated, took longer, and cost more money. But the business of bringing so many talented people into the process was invigorating and providing cast and crew with what they needed to do their best work without diluting the film’s distinct personality, was a really fun challenge – one I’d never had in the making of my short films.
You’ve mentioned in prior interviews that your parents, John and Faith, were influential in your decision to enter filmmaking. What sort of lessons, filmmaking and beyond, did you learn from your mom Faith, whom you worked with closely for a number of years?
The word is a cliché, but Faith was so contagiously passionate about her work, being disciplined, and the role of the artist â€¦ it was hard for anyone to be around her without catching that I some way and I was around her a lot!. (though I wish I was more disciplined.) I think I have an inability to do work I don’t love — and over the years, I’ve been able to find ways to be proud of what I do well without wasting time feeling too ashamed of what I stink at.
Beginning this week, you’re going on a nationwide theatrical tour with Toe Tactic and offering audiences an opportunity to see it on the big screen. Why did you go through the effort of self-organizing a tour like this in a day and age where most indie filmmakers are content to simply release their features onto DVD?
There is something about watching a film with a group that you don’t get at home. It’s my instinct that the movie is learning how to ride a bike and I’m not ready to let go of the back of the seat. Come May, when the tour (at this point anyway) will be about done, I’m sure I’ll be more than ready. We expect to release a DVD in the Fall — keep posted.
What are some other projects that you’re currently working on?
Collaboratively, Jeremiah Dickey and I just completed inserts for two great documentaries – William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, which just showed at Sundance, and What’s On Your Plate? directed by Catherine Gund, which will show at the Berlinale next month. We also made a really fun title sequence for a TV pilot called “Living in Captivity” and may create some inserts for their next cut.
Personally, I’m starting to write new material which I’ll continue to develop while I’m on the tour. It might turn into a movie, but it also might be some kind of written or performed piece with illustrations, It’s very mysterious at this point and secret. I hope to start noodling with these ideas by making a short or two as well. We’ll see!
The Toe Tactic @ MoMA
January 28—February 2, 2009
Tickets $10 (Adult), $8 (Seniors), $6 (Students)