Announcing CartoonBrewFilms

Cartoon Brew Films

We are happy and excited to announce the launch of CartoonBrewFilms.com, a new site that makes the world’s finest animated shorts available for convenient download to your iPod and personal computer. Our three launch films are Teddy Newton and Bert Klein’s Boys Night Out, Frank Tashlin’s The Lady Said No and Grantray-Lawrence’s The Hope That Jack Built. Films, both classic and contemporary, will be added to the library every week.

Here’s a few brief thoughts from BrewFilms founders—Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi—which should offer a bit more insight into why we’re starting this company, and also explain what sets us apart from all the other animation download sites popping up nowadays.

Jerry Beck

I remember the first time I wanted to collect animated films, back in the 1970s, while I was still in high school. There was no Internet, no home video, no 24-hour cartoon cable channels. I had to find 16mm film prints, which cost a fortune and were technically illegal to own. Because I had such a hard time doing my cartoon research back then, I made it one of my goals in life to find ways to spread information about cartoons and to make available the hard-to-find films themselves.

To that end I created books like Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide and The Fifty Greatest Cartoons. I worked in film distribution, releasing independent and international shorts through the Tournee of Animation, and putting anime, like Akira, into movie theaters and onto home video. Websites like Cartoon Research and Cartoon Brew have been another avenue in my continuing mission to connect animated content with like-minded individuals. Today, we are starting a new venture, but the objective remains the same.

This blog is read by a diverse collection of individuals, from students to cartoon aficionados, from directors and animators at the largest animation studios to commercial directors and independent filmmakers. What binds us all is our passion for the art form, and our desire to discover new animated films of all stripes and colors. CartoonBrewFilms aims to make available the most interesting, highest quality and rarest pieces of animated filmmaking, to offer hand-picked animation not found anywhere else. These are films that are not readily available; they are films that deserve to be seen, enjoyed, studied, discussed.

Not everybody can attend animation festivals like Ottawa, Annecy, Zagreb or Hiroshima, but with BrewFilms, your personal and portable animation festival is just one mouse click away. More importantly, we’re determined to do this in a way that is fair and financially equitable to the animators who are producing these shorts. Filmmakers contributing to our site will be compensated for their films; older films are being licensed from their respective owners. Every purchase you make sends a clear and direct message to filmmakers that you appreciate their hard work and want to see more animated shorts.

We’ve come a long way since I first collecting animated shorts in the 1970s, but I can say with confidence that the best is yet to come.

Amid Amidi

If I had to single out one moment during the development of CartoonBrewFilms where I became confident that we were on the right track, it would be an evening in May about ten months ago. Jerry and I were meeting with our distinguished attorney Ken. The purpose of the meeting was to hammer out the terms of the contract which filmmakers would have to sign so we could sell their work. Seemingly, every time Ken would make a suggestion (the type of suggestions that all good lawyers are supposed to make), Jerry or I would object saying that that wouldn’t be the fairest deal for the filmmaker. In the cutthroat world of business, some might say our desire to create a fair deal for all parties is naive, that it dooms us to failure. That’s not how we look at it though.

We think it’s smart business to create relationships with filmmakers that benefit them financially as much as they do us. There’s enough exploitation of animation artists as it already is; we’re setting out to create something wholly different, a company that supports, promotes and respects filmmakers. Video has barely arrived on the Internet, and like clockwork, the opportunists have already begun exploiting artists through myriad ways: paying filmmakers pennies through ad-based revenue sharing schemes, running “contests” to cheaply acquire new content, and asking you to submit your work for free because it’s “user-generated content.” CartoonBrewFilms doesn’t play those type of games. We aim to become the alternative that everybody has always wanted and nobody has had the guts to create.

This blog, Cartoon Brew, has been a consistent voice in the animation community since 2004; Jerry and I have been in the industry far longer than that. We’re in this for the long haul and we’re committed to making CartoonBrewFilms work. The idea for CartoonBrewFilms will surely continue to evolve over the coming months and years, but what will not change is our commitment to treating filmmakers fairly and with respect. Together—filmmakers, animation lovers and BrewFilms—let’s build a new type of animation company that we can all be proud of.


  • http://dekku.blogspot.com/ DeK

    Another good reason to get rid of that damn credit card… :D
    You should probably add a “Technical Details” section, specifying available file formats, along with audio and video codecs, resolutions and bitrates, or just linking to the appropriate FAQ.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    This is an excellent idea. I had the same idea myself a few months back, but I didn’t have the will to follow through on something so complicated. It’s nice that someone else did it.

    I do wish that you offered higher resolutions than 320×240, though. Why not go for DVD-quality? Some of us want to watch these on a television…

  • http://marcosgp.blogspot.com/ Marcos

    Great accomplishment!!!

    Thanks so much for all your efforts to the animation comunity…let’s spread the word!

  • http://www.honoluludogfight.com George Pfromm

    Thank you.
    I’ve already bought all three, and will probably buy any and everything you put up there.
    The only down side to the whole endeavour is that CartoonBrewfilms will become my favorite site over regular old CartoonBrew.

  • http://peet.wordpress.com/ Peet Gelderblom

    What a great initiative! Congrats, Jerry and Amid. Cartoon Brew is an ever-growing inspiration to me, and this makes it look like you guys haven’t even scratched the surface…

    I love the “preview clip” option and the extensive film notes. Keep ‘em coming!

  • http://doubleben.blogspot.com/ Emmett Goodman

    Looks great so far. I am confident you guys will come across some amazing finds in the future. I hope to download some of these wonderful findings soon.

  • http://cinemahustle.blogspot.com alexander

    $2 seems a little steep.

  • http://wardomatic.blogspot.com Ward

    Actually, Esn — Boys Night Out is 640 x 480 and looks fantastic.

    alexander — considering that a good amount of the money goes back to the filmmakers, $2 is ideal. I’d gladly pay more if I knew that I was helping out the artists/filmmakers. Wouldn’t you? C’mon — it’s only two dollars! Don’t be cheap!

  • Kristine

    As a regular reader of cartoon brew, I greatly appreciate that you guys are making these films available to us. There are so many interesting films and shorts that you’ve brought to attention here on the CB, and I will gladly spend $2/film to glean a little more knowledge and inspiration – Thank You!

  • http://man-arenas-news.blogspot.com/ Man Arenas

    this is a very big and great news…
    congratulations

  • http://pending Mark Kausler

    Best of luck to Cartoon Brew Films and all of us who aspire to create short animated cartoons. It’s high time that a site like this was created! Jerry and Amid have started something here that should benefit both the viewers and we cartoon makers. When you have some seasoning in the business, you realize that there are no grants or arts funding that will pay for the making of a cartoon short. The grants writers do not consider cartoons worthy enough in general, unless you are making a picture about a grant-worthy subject. If you want to do a picture with a musical cartoon cat, such as my cartoon “It’s ‘The Cat’” (coming soon to Cartoon Brew Films), you’re out of luck. Your $2.00 is very much appreciated by we cartoon makers. “It’s ‘The Cat’” was created by making 5000 drawings and for the most part, hand inking and painting them on cels. This cost a little south of $100,000.00. Was it worth it? Most definitely, yes! Here’s to the success of life, cartooning and Cartoon Brew Films!

  • bert klein

    Cartoon Brew has been my favorite animation website from the beginning. I am thrilled with cartoonbrewfilms and am honored to have Boys Night Out featured on it.

  • Stephen

    i know you’ve most likely already thought this far ahead but i’d like to ask anyway: whenever the source material allows, for those of us with PSPs (or eventually the iPhone), could you have a widescreen version available as well? i hope this site works out. i can’t wait to see what else you put up!

  • http://wardomatic.blogspot.com Ward

    Oh man, Mark — i’ve been dying to get in touch with you! Could you email me whenever you get the chance? Go to my blog and check my profile page — email’s there. Thanks! And best of luck to you on your new film! Looking forward to it….

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    as a fellow toon collector (“since the 70s!”), and old chum of Jerry’s (“since the 70s!”), I certainly applaud you! Both!! Hooray!!

  • Kelly Tindall

    Thumbs up, guys. Good job!

  • http://potulentpalaver.blogspot.com/ Kent Butterworth

    Congratulations, you guys! Hope you do well and sell a lot of cartoons this way! I just downloaded “The Lady Says No” – It looks great on my desktop at work – tonight I’ll put it on my I-pod – How cool is that?

    Now how do I get a “full rez” backup of it to watch on TV?

  • amid

    Esn – At this point, we’re optimizing films for iPods. A lot of the early video iPods, including our own, still max out at 320×240, so we’re going to wait a little longer until the majority have 640×480 capability. We’re experimenting with higher rez though, like the Boys Night Out file.

    Stephen – We’ll look into that possibility. I’m definitely planning on getting an iPhone and would like to take advantage of the widescreen myself.

    Kent – Apple’s iPod AV cable is under $20 and it allows you to hook it up to the TV. We’re obviously not designing these for TV playback so the quality won’t be perfect, but I connect the iPod all the time to my 32″ TV and the picture doesn’t look all that bad considering the lower rez.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com ZekeySpaceyLizard

    2 bucks is a pretty good price. Heck, a piece of fruit these days costs 3 bucks. That’s like pocket change.

  • DanO

    “But make sure your film hasn’t appeared online before—we only consider films that haven’t officially appeared online.”

    does that include YouTube?

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com jerry

    DanO – “…does that include YouTube?”

    Yes. If a film is officially available online (You Tube, iTunes, DailyMotion, etc.) it won’t appear on BREW FILMS. Our priority is to bring you exclusive animation, unavailable in any other format – or website.

  • http://www.heroes.zimati.com Mark Wallaard

    Really really really great stuff, cheers.

  • http://www.tpiecham.com Trevor Piecham

    This is a great day for the animation world, especially for independent animators. It seems like more and more independent animators are trying to make there films available online for a small fee. I am not sure as to what kind of success they have had but it is encouraging. I have been pondering what to do with my short film once it is done with the festival circuit. Maybe it will appear here, but if it doesn’t I will not be afraid to charge $2 to download it from my own site.

    I can’t wait to get home and download these!

  • Nacho

    Hi. I am from Bulgaria, I have a credit card but paypal does not accept accounts from Bulgaria and it seems that I cannot pay using paypal. Paying with paypal without an account also does not work for Bulgaria yet. Is there any other way to make the payment using a credit card?

  • http://www.milkmoneycartoons.com Ohjeepers

    Holy Crap! I’m gonna finally get to see Mark Kausler’s the Cat! AND for only Two Bucks!!!

    People are so used to getting everything for free on the Internet that I think it’s easy for them to forget that Two Bucks is NOT a lot of money to pay for great Animation. I’ve got a bunch of old VHS Animation Festival tapes floating around that I spent about Twenty bucks for each – just to get one or two specific shorts.

    Get Milton Knight on the line… I want to give you guys some money for his film as well. That is assuming that it’s done of course. Thanks!

  • http://www.fpsmagazine.com Kino Kid

    All the best — I already know it will be a smashing success!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Amid – why focus on video ipod users? There are a hell of a lot more people with PCs than video ipods, so I’d wager that a lot of your customers will be viewing this on their computers rather than on video ipods or PSPs.

    As you said, this is the only chance that many people will ever get to see some of these shorts; they’ll probably want a version that doesn’t look tiny on their screen.

    It would also mean that the quality would be higher than what you’d see on Youtube or Google Video, both of which are capped at 320×240.

  • Keith Paynter

    Applause to you both, Jerry and Amid! I, too, have been a 16mm fan for almost 40 years, and have become a 16mm cartoon junkie now that films are more accessible thanks to sites like ebay. People are fascinated when I bring out the Bell & Howells and share my personal retro-cool goldmine. I’m no JB (or for that matter Reg Hartt) but I am a golden age fan, especially for anything from WWII.

    $2.00 a title – steep? Are you kidding! Try spending $100+ on a new Fujicolor 16mm reduction print of “Coal Black” some time. Potential hard-to-find gems are going to be a bargain, especially when they have the potential to look far superior to YouTube and Google videos. I look forward to the items you’ll be able to bring us in the future. Just make sure you can keep them from the upload pirates!

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com Bryan

    Very nice work Amid & Jerry! Do you think in the future we can get Mr. Kausler’s nitrate print of THE SHOOTING OF DAN MCGOO made digital this way for us to see? Thanks!

  • http://wwww.vitaminsteve.com Steve Flack

    While I appreciate capping the videos for older video iPods, it is possible to use iTunes to shrink larger videos for iPods. I think you should offer the films at TV resolution, and leave it to the user to decide what resolution they want the videos at.

  • http://sandorasan.blogspot.com/ Sandra Khoo

    Thank you both so much for your efforts for bringing this to life. Wish there were more like you in the world.

  • http://demianjohnston.blogspot.com Demian

    This is going to be great. I have to get ready for an education here. I should get one of them video ipod things for my next tour.

  • Paul

    I’m always amused by people who come in once something like this is launched and have opinions about what the folks involved “should” have done rather than what they did, as if the other options never occurred to anyone.

    Congrats on the new service. I’m thinking about snagging a couple of these, and look forward to whatever comes next.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Paul: Come on, now. Don’t the customers have a right to say what they don’t like about the service? I don’t doubt that Amid and Jerry thought about the option of selling shorts in tv resolution and discarded it, but perhaps they didn’t realize how many people would want it. Or that iTunes can shrink larger videos.

  • Paul

    Sure thing, Esn. Customers have every right to express their opinions about the service. Doing on a forum though, rather than through email, always feels a bit like grandstanding to me. And if one hasn’t purchased any of the films, one is not a customer anyway…

    One also has every right to NOT purchase the films if the size or quality or whatever isn’t up to one’s standards.

  • amid

    We’re definitely paying close attention to what folks want. It’s obviously impossible to please everybody 100% of the time, but we’ll continue tweaking and building Brewfilms. We want as many people as possible to be happy with the service.

  • http://www.partsunknown.net Chris Ferguson

    Fantastic idea! Can’t wait to get these when I go home. I don’t mind paying the $2.00 for stuff I’ve never seen; it’s not like I haven’t already gotten plenty of cool cartoons for free via ReFrederator and Vintage ToonCast. Looking forward to seeing what’s next! Keep up the great work, guys!

  • Matt Jones

    Good luck with this venture fellas, really hope it takes off.
    Any chance of seeing Ronald Searle’s Standard Oil film ‘Energetically yours’?

  • dan

    Amid, I’ve gradually become a regular peruser on your blog now and last time I passingly noted your mention of Cartoon Brew Films and passively wondered what was “brewing”-sorry. So, having read this I’m stoked! I met you way back at Rowland Animation and I still vividly remember a cartoon like moment of yours’ when you haphazzardly rolled white paint straight down the wall and onto the back of the most intimidating burly Harley riding guy in our class. That was a truley funny moment for me. Just the scale between the two of you…I digressed here-accidentally. I have felt since the amazing sucess of itunes that there is something great evolving here, and soon there would be whole new avenues for distribution. And, I think you have established a perfect niche of a company to do very well. I wish you the best. And, if my memory serves me well, I know you will absolutely respect the artist’s and make fair deals as this goes forward. That’s why I’m stoked. I look forward to the day I can share my film with you. And, since you have given me a glimpse of hope, I’ll throw you a freebee (something I’ve been kicking around): You should package bundles of shorts onto DVDs geared toward those amassing in-car dvd players (for parents). I thought it would be cool to have them arranged according to drive time (ie. the menu would list a short according to distances: 10mi, 60mi, etc.). And, if that works out for you-I’m sure you will know which artist to cut a fair deal with.

    keep up the great work,
    Dan

  • dan

    Here’s hoping that Esn means Eisner: I’m glad that iphoto, iphone are among the targeted devices. Having worked for Disney I know first hand what happens when quality is put buy the wayside in favor of making a quick buck. Apple has made a quality product(s) for a long time now. And, rightly their market share is soaring. And, as a happy shareholder, I say continued success to these people who put quality style, and usability and affordability above all else. Man, I wish this was the man himself! Now, If I could only mouth off to another hack: Bush.

  • http://karlstraubmusic.com karl straub

    i hope you guys will eventually be able to present many of the films discussed in the cartoon modern book. reading that book really made me hungry to see the work of upa, etc.