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.
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. TogetherÃ¢â‚¬”filmmakers, animation lovers and BrewFilmsÃ¢â‚¬”let’s build a new type of animation company that we can all be proud of.