Sign-up begins this morning for classes at the American Animation Institute, the educational arm of The Animation Guild, Local 839. A special class posted about on the Animation Guild blog caught my attention: “Film Sense and Nonsense: The Bob Kurtz Master Class in Comedic Film Staging, Timing and Storytelling.” It runs for four Monday evenings from March 21 to April 11. The class is $100, and enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up, call (818) 845-7000 between 8:30 am and 5 pm TODAY.
It’s hard to think of an animation director with more funny animation to his credit than Bob, who began his remarkably prolific career working on the original Alvin Show and Roger Ramjet. He’s done the bulk of work at his own animation studio Kurtz & Friends, which has been responsible for hundreds of commercials (like the one above) as well as many film titles and projects with the likes of Lily Tomlin and George Carlin.
A pudgy, goofy-looking guy with a beard almost became an animator? I don’t think that’s ever happened before. From this piece about Giamatti:
“After graduation, I moved to Seattle thinking I would – oh, I don’t know what in hell I was thinking,” he says. “Get into animation, I guess – although, wow, just put a bullet in your head, there’s a really hard way to make a living. I ended up doing experimental theater, which was fun, but the money, when they had it, was like $16. That was it, that was your ‘stipend,’ $16. So I did a lot of odd jobs, and thought about going back to school and finally, weirdly, lucked into getting an agent.”
I love how he decided to pursue what he thought would be a more lucrative field than animation, like experimental theater.
If you have lots of money and love string, we’ve got the perfect thing for you. We’ve written about string holders before (here and here), and Hake’s Collectibles is currently auctioning holders based on cartoon characters including a lovely set of six from Alice in Wonderland. From an aesthetic standpoint, the whimsical folk-art quality of these objects is very appealing. Unfortunately, with bidding starting at $600 per string holder, should I ever find myself in a string-dispensing situation, I’ll have to use my hands.
This weekend, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist opens in more locations around southern California, as well as San Francisco and Chicago. More dates follow later in January, with the film’s widest release happening on February 4. The film will eventually screen in over 150 theaters over 38 states. Here’s the official release schedule so you can check to see if it’s playing in your neighborhood.
On Wednesday, January 19th, check out “Crossing The Line: Animation Show & Tell”, a retrospective of the works of gender-bending Swedish animator Lisa T. Afterward, Lisa (aka Lasse Persson) will be interviewed by New York filmmaker Signe Baumane. Lisa and Signe will talk about animation, transvestism and closely examine the inspiration behind each one of Lisa’s films. It’s a virtual guarantee that any event with Signe will be entertaining, and I can’t imagine this will be any different. The fun begins at 7pm at the Gershwin Hotel (7 E. 27th St. at 5th Ave, New York). Screening is FREE!
Below is one of Lisa T’s films from 2004 called Bikini:
For nearly thirty years, animation legend Ward Kimball contributed a cartoon page called “Asinine Alley” to the bi-monthly magazine Horseless Carriage Gazette, which was a specialized magazine geared towards collectors of vintage automobiles. For a few issues, he also created ads for Mobil, and someone on Ward’s very active Facebook page has been posting them on-line.
I read an interview with Ward once in which he described how Walt Disney became angry when he saw these ads displayed at a studio show, and told Ward that he couldn’t do them anymore. Ward said he was never paid for the ads and was making them as a favor to the magazine, but nevertheless, he stopped. The last one was created in 1960.
Like the cartoons he created for the Gazette, the ads are created in a diverse range of styles from cartoon drawings to collage paste-ups to photography. A gallery of Ward’s Mobil ads can be seen after the jump: Continue reading →
Tous des Monstres (All of the Monsters) is a student film from Supinfocom directed by Nicolas Deprez, Laurent Jaffier, Pierre Lippens and Gabrielle Lissot. It’s NSFW, but more than that, the imagery is just plain disturbing. The tight little story they constructed around the visuals, with Pinocchio-esque undertones, is impressive for a student CG short, and shows the value of focusing on story and character as well as technique and animation.
Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about how he plans to sustain the 3-D fad during this interview with The Wall Street Journal. He also discusses how seeing Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express inspired him to bet the farm on 3-D films.
Katzenberg gets testy after one of the reporter’s softball questions about a dip in attendance (around the 4 minute mark). It must be tough work maintaining the facade that 3-D is the savior of theaters, when in fact, 3-D has done absolutely nothing to renew interest amongst moviegoers in the United States nor has it substantially boosted box office grosses. Continue reading →
No new animated films this week in the US. The quick fading Yogi Bear dropped from fourth to eighth place with an FINAL $6.6 million and a grand total of $75.4 million. Disney’s Tangled took an FINAL $5.1 million in its 7th weekend, good for tenth place. Its total now stands at $175.8 million.
Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist earned an FINAL $34,400 from three theaters. Its three work total is an impressive $180,000. By contrast, Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars took in $13,604 from 11 theaters, and its three-week total is a paltry $33,089. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip earned a FINAL $13,039 from 4 theaters for a total of $167,939.
(Final numbers will be updated on Monday afternoon.)
Just found out about this great interview with Ralph Bakshi that appeared in BOMB magazine. It’s available to read on-line. Smart questions throughout, like:
Morgan Miller: You seem very attracted to garbage! The Billie Holiday music montage sequence in Fritz the Cat when the camera pans slowly across a trash heap in an abandoned lot in Harlemâ€¦ at first you see broken bottles, syringes, and then it becomes more personalâŽ¯old photos, then entire old photo albums, people’s memories just sitting in the trash. Later, garbage becomes the introduction of Hey, Good Lookin’ where personified pieces of garbage talk to each other about life after death. Even when you moved into the fantasy realm in Wizards, you maintain bleak futuristic worlds built on garbage, where things are rediscovered, like the Nazi remnants that are in that film. It occurs to me that it’s a metaphor for mortality, but not just that; maybe also a metaphor for what a generation throws away and what might be discovered by the next. Or what might just be forgotten.
Ralph Bakshi: I like that, Miller! I’m dead serious about this: who we are, who we used to be, what we’ve been through, what we’ve becomeâŽ¯it’s very important. We’re all part of a long trail. The scene in Heavy Traffic where the mother is walking through the photographs looking at her unclesâŽ¯my family’s up there. My ancestors. Faded walls, old wood, old paintâŽ¯every fleck of paint is another story, not to be discarded. Stuff like Kindle is so cold. It’s great for reading I guess, but texture and being able to touch stuff is so important. The past is to be learned from and to respect. Too much of it is thrown away out of shallowness or for things that are new and cheap. That’s the thing about this country: money became God. It doesn’t matter how you get it. It’s the reason for lying, cheating, and stealing. In Hey, Good Lookin’, this poor garbage thinks it’s going to go speak to God, but it’s just going into an incinerator. You know what I’m saying?
The interviewer, Morgan Miller, is also a filmmaker. Here’s his delightfully NSFW Vacuum Attraction:
Mr. Freeman is a philosophical Web series from Russia that apparently has been causing quite a stir since it debuted a year and a half ago. Start here for a lengthy explanation of what Mr. Freeman is about and how its influencing Russian youth:
Mr. Freeman cartoons have no political messages. They focus on existential, philosophical issues of everyday life. Mr. Freeman appeals to the spectators, portraying the emptiness of their lives, which consist of consumerism, entertainment and laughing at others. The first part of the movie was entitled “Are you sure about who you are and whether you exist?” “Are you real? Are you unique? You are just a small screw in the system,” says Mr. Freeman. He gradually and consistently deconstructs the world of a typical RuNet user, mocking values, common knowledge, morality and social hierarchies.
Some of the episodes, like the one above, have been translated by fans into English. The show’s creators remain unknown, perhaps due to the subversive nature of the material. What’s clear is that some really talented artists are working on it. While the style is spare, the skill of the animation, drawing, and filmmaking are all of an extremely high caliber.
PES‘s latest short, The Deep was created for Showtime’s new “Short Stories” initiative, which should be abundantly clear since Showtime has thoughtlessly plastered their logo over the entire length of the film. If you can move beyond that corporate absurdity, you’ll discover one of PES’s most complex pieces underneath. What really impresses in this piece is how PES is able to discover the organic beauty within rigid, mechanical structures. The sophistication of his timing and movement induce believability of metal tools as organic undersea creatures.
Written, Directed, and Animated by PES
Producer(s): Sarah Phelps, PES
VFX Compositing: Wolfgang Maschin, Demiurge