BREWMASTERS NOTE: This week Cartoon Brew takes a closer look at each of the five Academy Award nominated animated shorts. Each day at 10am EST/7am PST we will post an exclusive interview with the director(s) of one of the films. Today, we begin with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:
Yesterday, the BAFTAs–the British equivalent of the Academy Awards–were handed out, and the winners of the Animated Feature and Shorts categories were Gore Verbinski’s Rango and Grant Orchard’s A Morning Stroll. The production design nod went to Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for their work on Hugo, and “special visual effects” was awarded to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler and David Vickery).
Both Rango and A Morning Stroll are Oscar nominees as well, but it’s difficult to judge what a BAFTA win means for their Oscar chances. That’s because besides these two films, the BAFTA nominees in both categories were completely different from the Oscar nominees. Interestingly, the other nominees in the BAFTA animated feature category were The Adventures of Tintin and Arthur Christmas, two films that many said should have also received Oscar nods.
Far be it from me to urge you to see this weekend’s number 3 film, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – but it is accompanied by the four-minute 3D animated short Daffy’s Rhapsody. Based on the 1953 Mel Blanc recording (written by original Looney Tunes scribes Michael Maltese and Warren Foster), this is director Matthew O’Callaghan’s latest (and in my opinion, greatest) attempt to properly reposition the Looney Tunes in contemporary guise. Inspired by Blanc’s manic vocal track, the artists create a satisfying scenario and the appropriately zany visuals to match it.
But that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Unlike other talkback posts, I’ll allow any intelligent thoughts about the entire series of Looney Tunes 3D theatrical shorts in the comments below.
A Romanian feature-length animated documentary Crulic — The Path to Beyond will make its US debut at MoMA’s New Directors/New Films Festival (March 21-April 1). Filmmaker Anca Damian’s feature tells the life story of Claudiu Crulic, a 33 year old Romanian who died in a Polish prison while on hunger strike. The trailer (below) reveals a strong visual style, combining hand drawn, collage, stop-motion and cut-out animation techniques. Let’s hope this film gets wider international exposure.
(Thanks, Fabrica De Desene)
I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week. Says Gagné:
“I have a new book that just came out. I’ve always had a very particular vision of how books reprinting old comics should be restored and presented, so a few years ago, I decided to put my own historical collection together covering a subject that had never really been documented before. I worked on the project for many years and last year it was picked up by Fantagraphics. The book was released last week.“
That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley. Gagne writes more about why he wanted to do this project, and how he did the restorations on his website. I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!
Fresh of the the festival circuit, where it was projected in super wide-screen, Kiss is what I’d safely classify as an art film. It was co-directed by Joseph Hodgson and Franck Aubry through Oslo, Norway graphic design studio Racecar. Hodgson writes:
“As Paul Auster once said “The sun is the past, the earth is the present and the moon is the future.” “Kiss” is a no-budget, independent film, undertaken to examine a simple idea: We set out to explore the consequence of something as innocent as a kiss. We believe that every solar eclipse is the moon’s attempt to reach the sun. Our idea is personified through the sun and the moon as seen from earth… a love story plain and simple.“
For more information and art, visit the Kiss website.
Brazillian animator Fernanda Ribeiro just graduated from the Vancouver Film School’s Classical Animation course. This is her Flash short, Cup of Tea, which features a nice sense of design and a fine sense of humor.
Think Brilliance by Diego De la Rocha (Canada): “This is my animation final project from Vancouver Film School. Shot #1 (Head Title Sequence–Stop Motion / Cloth, strings, cardboards & maple leaves); Shot #2 (CG Lightbulb–Maya 2011/ Zbrush/ Photoshop/ Nuke/ Premiere Pro)”
Futile Devices–Kickers by Nicolas Ménard (Canada): “A series of 6 five seconds kickers made in Denis Dulude’s class at UQAM (Université du Québec Ã Montréal)”
God and Money by Philip Vose (US): “Finished in just under five days for my church as an intro to a short series topic of God and money.”
Embroidered Dog Animation–Front and Back by Aubrey Longley-Cook (US)
(NSFW) Twenty Four Hour Woman by Scott Lenhardt (US): “Celebrating the women who make the world go around.”
(Futile Devices via Drawn)
Aqua is quite a sophisticated piece of visual storytelling for a 17 year-old. Created with Toon Boom Animate Pro, After Effects and Photoshop, this has been a passion project for teenager Gints Zilbalodis for the last year and a half. Says Zilbalodis:
“It started as vague ideas of a cat, ocean and overcoming fear. Then through numerous battles with the script it shaped up to something similar you can see now. After seven drafts I felt that it was ready to start storyboarding, but the film kept evolving all the way until the sound mix was done. I kept learning about filmmaking everyday, going through all of the different processes.
“I chose the cat as the main character mainly to save time with exposition, because people know that generally cats are afraid of water. So I could just jump right into action. Plus cat is a fairly small creature and the ocean seems even bigger to him. And of course cats are much easier to draw than humans.
“The film’s music is by my friend Bertrams Pauls PurviÅ¡Ä·is who helped a great deal to tell the story the way it was intended. Music had a lot of to convey in very little time and it came out much better than I could’ve ever expected”.
Not to be confused with Disney’s forthcoming Frozen, here’s the English-language trailer for a Russian version of The Snow Queen, which is scheduled to be released toward the end of 2012. It will be released in Stereoscopic 3D and was produced on a budget of $7 million (US$). Moscow’s Wizart Animation is the producer/production company. More information and artwork can be found on the official Snow Queen web site.
“I don’t know and I would like to correct that,” was John Lasseter’s response when asked by the Wall Street Journal why Studio Ghibli films don’t perform well in the United States. “I ask that same question all the time…They’re beautiful on the big screen.” Next week, Lasseter and Disney will make their most ambitious attempt to popularize Ghibli’s films stateside when they open the English-language version of The Secret World of Arrietty on 1,200 screens.
The WSJ Journal article about the film, which can be read here (but might be behind a paywall), describes Disney’s challenge of building buzz for the film without any merchandising rights. They are hoping that Arrietty finds a broader audience than the typical Ghibli film since it’s based on Mary Norton’s children’s classic The Borrowers. It’ll be interesting to watch how the film performs in the US. This is a relatively wide release for an indie/foreign animated film, and when Disney feels that they can make money from a more diverse palate of animated films, other film distributors will likely follow suit.
Tonight at 6:30, the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd Street, between Park and Lexington Ave.) presents a special screening of Bill Plymptons’s colorized and voice-enhanced version of Winsor McCay’s The Flying House. Bill will be on hand afterward for a cocktail reception, as will the film’s voice actors Matthew Modine and Patricia Clarkson. Tickets are $10 (students), $15 (Society of Illustration members) and $20 (general public). Purchase them at the Society of Illustrators website.
Nothing says I love you more than Gabby shouting “All’s Well!” from a vintage Valentine Card from 1939. Today’s big ebay find are these nifty Paramount licensed greeting cards from Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels. Oh yeah, nothing professes true love more than a bound unconscious giant on the beach. I wish I could afford these… Click images and thumbnails below for larger view of these beautiful keepsakes of Valentines past.
(Thanks, Eric Calande)
This just in from Warner Bros. animator Tim Walker: The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association, is hosting Living Artistically with Parkinson’s Disease, a champagne brunch art exhibit & silent auction on Sunday, February 12th, from 11am to 2pm.
This one-of-a-kind exhibit will feature works of art – painting, drawings, photography, sculpture, and music – created by celebrated artists who have Parkinson’s Disease. Artists include Jorge Lacost, James Tim Walker, Herb Rosenkrantz and many more. Gallery sales from the exhibit and silent auction/raffle will directly benefit the artist and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association in it’s efforts to provide support and education locally.
Tim has gotten his colleagues at Warner Bros. to contribute to several incredible one-of-a-kind murals which will be auctioned off at the event. One, partially pictured above (and badly photographed with my iPhone), features funny animal (and people) drawings by Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone, Dan Haskett, Bob McKnight, Mark Christiansen and others. Another piece features adventure character drawings by Bruce Timm, Shane Glines, Glen Murakami and more.
The art exhibit opens February 8th and runs to the 14th. The auction is on Sunday at the James Gray Gallery, Bergamot Station Art Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Building D4 in Santa Monica. Check with Parkinson LA for more information.
How much is a personal painting by Disney animation legend Ward Kimball worth? Watch the segment above. The painting, owned by animation artist Jim Clark, was featured tonight on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. The appraiser, Leila Dunbar, really knows her Disney history. It’s not mentioned in the program, but Ward originally gave the painting to his unit animator Julius Svendsen as a gift.