In its new incarnation, Selick (director, Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas) has teamed up with Beasts of the Southern Wild producer Josh Penn, and has enlisted K5 International to rep the film’s international rights. This is the official synopsis of the story, which Selick wrote himself:
Hap Dagger, a nine-year-old orphan, hides his fantastically weird hands from a cruel world. But when a Living Shadow Girl teaches him to make amazing hand shadows that come alive, his hands become incredible weapons in a shadow war against a ravenous Monster who could destroy Hap’s brother and all of New York.
According to a press release from K5, the film has a committed crew that includes director of photography Peter Sorg (Frankenweenie, Coraline), frequent Selick collaborator Eric Leighton (animation director on Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’hoole), production designer Lou Romano (The Incredibles), editor Wyatt Jones (Immortals, Rango, TRON: Legacy, Zodiac), and composer Bruno Coulais (Coraline). Voice cast includes Jaden Betts (voice of Hap) Pamela Adlon (voice of Richard) Brendon Glesson (voice of Darce) Jeffrey Tambor (voice of Cuzzie Bell) and Catherine O’Hara (voice of Miss Fern)
K5 also released the following montage of art from the film:
The Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, Poland, is presenting a retrospective of Polish animator Julian Antonisz (1941-1987), who is best known for his drawn-on-film animation work. The exhibit, “Antonisz: Technology for Me Is a Form of Art,” is on display through March 17.
I’m fascinated to see the hand-crafted equipment that Antonisz used to make his films. Some of the tools can be seen in this documentary:
The exhibit description offers more details about Antonisz’s unique multidisplinary approach to animation filmmaking:
The exhibition is the first such extensive presentation of all the fields of the work of Julian Antoniszczak (Antonisz) – the co-founder of the legendary Animated Film Studio in Krakow, director of experimental animated films, constructor, musician and inventor.
In addition to a presentation of Antonisz’s rich film oeuvre, known to a wider public only to a limited degree, the exhibition also focuses on the no-less interesting issue of the artist’s methods of working.
The entry point for the exhibition is the artist’s archive that contains diaries and “ideabooks” (collections of notes, sketches, “great ideas”, newspaper cut-outs and projects for machines, amassed and categorized over the course of several decades). The selection of notes and sketches shown in Zachęta gives a rare chance to follow the creative process right the way – from the noting of the first idea for a film or machine on a scrap of paper, through the successive stages of its realization.
The non-camera films in which Antonisz continually returns to such themes as transience, the battle with time, illness and also human stupidity, can equally be treated as an intimate account of the artist’s own fears and obsessions. The artist is clearly fascinated by the mechanism of the body and its workings, not just as a motif in the films, but also through its participation in the process of the creation and viewing of the films. He is interested in experimenting not just with film tape, but also with the sensitivity and resilience of the viewer.
Fascinated by kinetic toys and optical machines, Antonisz strove to uncover the very roots of cinema. The idea of a return to hand-crafted work postulated in his Artistic Non-Camera Manifesto was something that the artist realised all aspects of his work.
An important element of the exhibition are the mechanical devices that Antonisz constructed according to ideas of his own for work in the non-camera technique – in other words, in experiments carried out directly on film tape. These unusual machines, “pantographs”, “animographs” and “sonographs” – enclosed in portable cases enabled the artist to carry out individual creative work independent of institutions and bureaucracy. Everything that he did was guided by one over-riding principle: to work as much as possible, as effectively as possible and as quickly as possible.
The machines and objects of everyday use that he designed and created, as well as elements of a curious “interior architecture”, can also be considered as hand-mades in the artist’s own unique style. Showing these at the exhibition evokes the unique atmosphere of the artist’s studio-laboratory, a place in which, as Antoniszczak himself said, technology became a form of art.
The exhibition is accompanied by the first publication to provide a thorough review of the full range of Julian Antoniszczak’s work.
Uruguay, a small South American country of slightly more than 3 million people, managed to complete two animated features last year. Anina, directed by Alfredo Soderguit, is a co-production between Montevideo, Uruguay-based Raindogs Cine and Cali, Colombia-based Antorcha Films. The film was accepted into this year’s Berlin Film Festival, which starts this week.
Selkirk, el verdadero Robinson Crusoe (Selkirk, the Real Robinson Crusoe) is a stop motion feature directed by Walter Tournier. Trailer is below with more information on the official website.
Book publisher Denis Kitchen forwarded exciting news this morning: “The Art of Harvey Kurtzman”, a comprehensive retrospective of MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman, will open in New York City next month. The show will take place at the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd St., NY, NY).
Kurtzman’s influence in the animation sphere is well known, and especially strong in the work of Spumco principals like John Kricfalusi and Bill Wray. Another Spumco vet, Vincent Waller, even directed a short based on Kurtzman’s comic Hey Look!:
Here are details about the show, which opens on March 8th:
The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators is proud to present “The Art of Harvey Kurtzman,” a diverse exhibition spanning the career of the man who created MAD and who had a broad and profound influence on American popular culture. This eight-week exhibit showcasing over 120 works will be on display March 8th through May 11th in the museum’s two-floor gallery in New York City’s Upper East Side.
Co-curators Monte Beauchamp (founder, editor, and designer of the comic art/illustration anthologies Blab! and Blabworld), and publisher/cartoonist Denis Kitchen (co-author of The Art of Harvey Kurtzman and representative of the estate) have assembled the most comprehensive assemblage of Kurtzman art to date, culled from select private and family collections. Highlights include: Kurtzman life drawings from 1941; rarely-seen late ’40s strips done for the New York Herald-Tribune and well as for Marvel’s Stan Lee; key covers, strips and full stories Kurtzman created for MAD, Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, Humbug and Help!, sometimes in collaboration with fellow comics geniuses Will Elder and Jack Davis. In addition, “Kurtzmania,” numerous rare artifacts and publications never seen by the public, will be on display.
Filmmaker PES, currently nominated for an Oscar for his short Fresh Guacamole, directed this striking title sequence for the Dutch TV series Het Klokhuis (Apple Core). The long-running show, which first aired in 1988, is one of the Netherlands’ oldest youth television shows.
Directed by PES
Production Company: PES Productions
Het Klokhuis (NL) Editors-in-Chief: Loes Wormmeester & Jan Pieter Schaap
Fabrication/Production Studio: SCPS Unlimited
Animation: Dillon Markey
Editor: Joshua Balster
Sound Design: PES
Dallas-based ReelFX is getting serious about feature animation. Last week, they named Aron Warner as the studio’s President of Animation. Warner will oversee the two films that the studio is currently producing: Jorge Gutierrez’s Book of Life, which we wrote about last month, and Turkeys, directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who, Jonah Hex). More details about Warner’s appointment in the company’s press release:
Reel FX, a fully integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live action movies, announced today that Aron Warner, the Academy Award-winning producer of the animated blockbusters Shrek, Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, has joined the growing movie studio as President of Animation.
Warner will oversee and expand Reel FX’s animation slate which already includes the day of the dead-themed project Book of Life (Guillermo del Toro producing/Jorge Gutierrez directing), which will be released in theaters by Fox Animation on October 10th, 2014, Turkeys (Jimmy Hayward directing) which will be released in theaters on November 14th, 2014 by Relativity Media and Beasts of Burden (Warner and Andrew Adamson producing).
Warner said: “Reel FX has the talent, technology and track record to create the highest-quality theatrical animated films for reasonable budgets. Our model allows us to take creative risks and has already attracted world-class filmmakers looking to tell unique and daring stories that appeal to audiences across the world. I am honored to be part of the Reel FX team and look forward to continuing to build upon our slate.”
Steve O’ Brien, Chairman and CEO of Reel FX said: “Aron Warner is one of the industry’s most respected and accomplished animation executives and he brings sustained success, years of experience and deep relationships to overseeing our studio’s growing feature film animation division. We are excited to work with him as we continue to build a studio that produces best in class animated movies.”
Warner and Reel FX have been working together on a variety of projects for the past few years. Warner’s team at Reel FX includes a wide range of producers and executives including Jeff Fierson, Head of Development, Brad Booker, Creative Producer of Reel FX’s Book of Life and Scott Mosier Creative Producer of Reel FX’s Turkeys.
Warner joined PDI/DreamWorks in 1997. During the production of Shrek, Warner also served as the Head of PDI/DreamWorks for two years, overseeing all production and operations for all of the computer animation affiliate’s feature film, commercial and visual effects projects. He first joined PDI as a producer on the computer animated comedy Antz. Before PDI, Warner held the post of vice president of production at Twentieth Century Fox, where he supervised production on such films as True Lies, Independence Day, The Ice Storm, The Crucible, Alien Resurrection, Volcano and the number one blockbuster of all time, Titanic.
Character designer Stephen Silver is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. Silver, who is the designer of shows like Kim Possible and Danny Phantom, posted an impassioned YouTube video a few days ago urging young artists not to give their work away for free.
Silver’s message is simple but priceless: if you don’t respect your own creative skills, others won’t either. This has always been a difficult idea for creative people to grasp—myself included—because we enjoy what we do for a living. Most young artists don’t enter the animation field because they want to become rich; they do it because they love the art form. But not everyone shares that idealism. Businesspeople and corporations are in it purely for the money, and they will gladly not pay you what you’re worth if it enhances their bottom line.
Almost every creative person eventually comes around to the concept that Silver is advocating in his video. The sooner you do it in your career, the better off you will be.
Ireland-based Finnish animator Teemu Auersalo created Trolley Boy, a droll fantasy about a supermarket employee transcending the drudgery of daily life. The highlight is Auersalo’s distinctive rough-hewn CGI style which adds visual interest to the story.
The new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American, based on Peter Stephan Jungk’s novel of the same name, debuted on January 22 the Teatro Real in Madrid. The opera, which was inspired by unflattering myths and half-truths about Walt Disney, has received mostly mild reviews in publications like the NY Times and Opera News, though the LA Times was enthusiastic. Spanish daily El Pais reports that crowds have been respectful if not ecstatic: “It won a long applause. It was not rapturous, far from it. But there was not a single boo.”
Don’t fret if you’re unable to make it to Madrid. You can see the opera from the comfort of your own home and make your own judgements about how successfully it portrays Disney’s life and worldview. The opera will be broadcast live on Medici.tv on February 6. It appears to be free, though the site requires registration. The opera will remain viewable for 90 days after its online debut.
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch died yesterday at the age of 88. A caricature of Koch was the star of Jimmy Picker’s 1983 Oscar-winning animated short Sundae in New York. (Koch did not voice the character.)
A cartooned Koch also appeared once on The Critic:
It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago the only way to watch animated shorts from around the world was to attend a screening of Spike and Mike. The touring festival played an important role in promoting and legitimizing independent animation during the Eighties and Nineties, but it has become an anachronism in the age of YouTube, Vimeo and the endless stream of animation content online.
There’s still something to be said for watching great animated shorts on the bigscreen and with an audience. In that spirit, Spike and Mike will be screening a “30th anniversary” program of shorts during the month of February and March at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego—La Jolla (700 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037).
The anniversary celebration is a bit late—this is actually the festival’s 36th year of existence—but who’s counting. The shorts that will be screened in the program include:
Pixels by Patrick Jean Bunny by Chris Wedge Creature Comforts by Nick Park Loon by Jan Bitzer For the Birds by Ralph Eggleston Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow The Big Snit by Richard Condie Guard Dog by Bill Plymptom Oktapodi by Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi The Saga of Bjorn by Benjamin J. Kousholt, Daniel D. Christensen, Mads Lundgaard Christensen, Jesper A. Jensen, Jonas K. Doctor, Steffen Lyhne, Pernille Ørum-Nielsen, Frederik Bjerre-Poulsen, and Jonas Georgakakis Grasshoppers by Bruno Bozzetto Animator vs. Animation by Alan Becker The Deep by PES Seed by Johnny Kelly Bambi Meets Godzilla by Marv Newland Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase by Joan Gratz
Of note, on February 9th and 10th, Simpsons director David Silverman will appear at the screenings in La Jolla to sign autographs, and on March 1st and 2nd, Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore will attend. Go HERE for showtimes and ticket info.