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“My Dog Tulip” opening in New York

My Dog Tulip

Paul Fierlinger’s animated feature My Dog Tulip opens an exclusive two-week run on September 1st at the Film Forum in New York. It opens later elsewhere in the US (complete list of cities here). Fierlinger is an exceptional and exceptionally devoted animation filmmaker (he made the artwork for his film with only one other person–his wife, Sandra), and I can’t wait to finally see the results. As this article from the Boston Globe makes clear, the film isn’t conventional animated fare; the book on which its based, by J.R. Ackerley, has been called the “[most] preeminently disgusting of all great dog books” and derided as “meaningless filth about dogs.”

This is a revealing quote from Fierlinger from an interview in The Bark magazine, which says a lot about where he’s coming from:

From a very young age, I disliked Disney and loved The Little Prince because the fox explains to the boy [in The Little Prince] what he must do to tame him, the fox. If the fox would know this, wasn’t he already tame? But instinctively–I was seven or eight at the time–I undersatnd that it shows Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s understanding of nature. He wasn’t violating any rules, whereas Disney violated all the rules of nature. That’s what I want our film to be: the opposite of 101 Dalmatians. So that people would not want to buy a dog after they saw Tulip, like too many people do who watch Disney movies.

  • The G Man

    Thanks for keeping it real, Paul. I can’t wait to see the film.

  • It’s a wonderful film, Fierlinger’s best yet. Beautiful, intelligent and funny. See it!

  • Nathan

    How typical of Amid to pull the Anti-Disney section of the interview and publish it here!!

    • The Gee

      Yeah. I guess it is something he does a lot.

      But, it is a good portion to quote because it is about what the film is and isn’t. So, I wouldn’t fault him for excerpting that.

      As it goes, from what I’ve seen of this feature, it looks interesting. Not something I’d get excited about but it does sound like the story might be good. If it is good then I hope the audience finds it.

  • The technique of this film can reduce costs of animation and maybe save 2D feature animation.

    I think it is the only way.

  • Bob Harper

    I want to but my ticket now!!!!

  • Scarabim

    Walt Disney “broke the rules of nature” because he knew what was essential to a story – and anuses and poop seldom are, unless some would-be iconoclast deliberately inserts them in to make a point. Maybe not a watchable movie, but a point. Besides, the anthropomorphic animals Walt used weren’t meant to be completely representational of real animals. They were stand-ins for humans, telling human comedies and dramas.

    Me, I’ll take Pongo over Tulip any day. Pass!

    • Mark

      The problem is the stories were rarely that HUMAN. You’re talking surface. Fierlinger is talking CHARACTER ANIMATION.

      Disney’s films were a certain type of caricature. Often appealing and entertaining. Occasionally more “believable.” Often not.

      Tulip is a better film than 101 Dalmations (and I like that film–well, at least the first half). Less polished? Maybe, but infinetly more believable.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      No doubt that’s what separates the kind of world or approaches to a story we see often in animated films a lot, whether you go for a more realism of feces and unspeakable parts, or that of a different world where such thoughts or visual distinctions need not apply (which we often see again and again, toilet humor aside). Not that such scenarios couldn’t exist in 101 Dalmatians if they let it.

    • There is room for both. Animation is bigger than Disney.

      I really like Disney’s “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” , but am looking forward to seeing Paul Fierlinger’s “My Dog Tulip” .

      I’ve seen bits and pieces of animation from Tulip over the years as he has posted some examples of it on the TVP Animation User Forums. (The film was hand drawn, but paperlessly by Paul with a Wacom tablet in the application TVP Animation. BG’s and Coloring were done by Sandra Fierlinger, also working in TVP.) I think the achievement of two people having made an entire feature film in this manner is something that gives me a great deal of hope for the future of independent animated features which can tell more personal, perhaps even eccentric , stories such as “My Dog Tulip” which would never stand a chance in the mainstream Hollywood animation studios.

      What’s interesting is that this film is technically a “CG” film (every frame of it was drawn directly into a computer , using a Wacom tablet and TVP Animation software) yet every frame has “the human touch” . No attempt is made to hide that we are watching DRAWINGS .

  • holyduck

    I hate to know what he’d think of Cats and Dogs, and Marmaduke!!

    • Inkan1969

      Actually, aren’t those movies obsessed with pet poop?

  • Well, having dogs is no Disney film.
    Even the best dogs we have to pick up their poop. And Disney was/is very influential on culture and our attitudes towards animals. This is not to blame, it just happens to be so. Was it that when Bambi was released I heard sales in hunting supplies dropped? His quote is very true about people wanting to buy a dog. When 101 dalmations Live Action was released I heard a woman who was a breeder or head of some dalmation kennel club who saw a spike in people interested in these high-energy dogs after each release of the films. And never mind we think of mice as being cute.
    Disney has been a cultural influence in our attitudes towards animals…not that they set out to do that.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      This is probably why I never had such ugly thoughts about animals for that reason (Disney was to blame)! I remember reading someplace of there being an interesting in people wanting to buy clown fish because of Pixar’s Finding Nemo for much the same reason.

      • One of my favorite memories while living abroad in Japan:

        Going to an aquarium where you would overhear (on multiple occasions) someone point to a clownfish and say “Nemo desu! Oishii sou!”

        Loosely translated: “It’s Nemo! He looks delicious!”

  • The comment I had made about 101 Dalmatians was mainly addressed to readers of Bark magazine who don’t need as much clarifications to the point I was making as a blog for animators does, at least judging by many of the comments above. The point is that after the release of the Disney film there was a puppy rush to buy the D dogs, who were already back then over bred (many are born deaf and aggressive)resulting in overfilled Dalmatian rescue organizations and dog shelters.

    J.R. Ackerley’s message was to not traffic in animals and not breed dogs if you don’t understand the responsibilities involved with the process. It’s unfortunate that this discussion went off-track into a debate about which animation is better, a Fierlinger film or Disney film. That’s like comparing which sex is better; the homosexual or heterosexual kind.

    • Bob Harper

      “That’s like comparing which sex is better; the homosexual or heterosexual kind.”

      I’m stealing this quote for anyone who brings up Apples and Oranges to me again – BRILLIANT!!!

    • Martin Bell

      I’d love to see the film, Paul. Is there any plans for screenings in the UK?

      • Hi, Martin. Tulip certainly will run in the UK and I hope it will be soon, but I’m not sure who has the distribution rights to the movie for the UK; I don’t think it’s New Yorker Films though, which is a pity.

  • Nancy Beiman

    Dear Paul,
    I really enjoyed meeting you at Sheridan last fall, and hope that you can visit us again. I hope that this film can play in Toronto. Congratulations!

  • If Tulip doesn’t make it out to the hinterlands, I’ll watch it on Blueray – eventually. However, I think I’ve seen most of what would make up the ‘extras’ part of the disc. I saw some great clips and photos from Paul’s studio, 2 or 3 years ago.

    Above comments: Disney films are about ‘magic land’. The older films are fun, but as adults, most of us (most) know that real love doesn’t live in magic land. Mopping up pee, and knowing that in the not to distant future you’ll be mopping up more pee – because simply looking at your furry pack-mate makes her wag her tail and she’s not going anywhere. That’s real love.

  • Oliver

    Why would I want to watch the “opposite” of not just one of the great Disney features but one of the greatest animated features, period?

    • Because curiosity about and exploration of film making is a very good way to expand the boundaries of the medium (and your own horizons to boot).

    • Liesje

      I *really* hope that was said sarcastically.

  • I rented this DVD last night and was blown away. The combination of masterful, witty writing and beautiful artwork puts this miles ahead of product from the Pixar cartoon mill.

    The dog motions are at once real and abstract, and I loved the English city- and landscapes. Gorgeous palette!

    A thoroughly satisfying, made-for-adults cartoon!

  • Lovettta

    We all have different opinions and different likes. I love fantasy and anthropomorphic traits as well realistic ones. I like Disney films bur I would like to see your films too Mr.Fierlinger.

  • “I rented this DVD last night and was blown away.”
    Where on earth did you do that, Carl? I know that Tulip is still far from being released for home video. But also thank you for liking our work, which goes to everyone else who spoke kindly of us. To those who don’t share these feelings I sincerely say that I understand your sentiments simply because we knew from the outset that we are not going for a mass crowd pleaser, so naturally, whatever we undertake will please some and displease others.

    In my opinion this is the only responsible way to make independent films, write books or political commentary. No one who has participated in the creation or distribution of Tulip would expect otherwise.

    So to Oliver’s question I say we made the film because we have the opposite opinion of yours and if we would have decided to make a crowd pleaser, some other Oliver would have to ask, Why would I want to watch another Disney look-alike made by a tiny, independent crew? Or in the words of the great Calvin asking Hobbs, What’s the use of making an original if you can’t mass produce it?

  • Bravo, Paul! I rented this at a video store in San Francisco. It certainly looks like a commercial DVD. The box is full of pull-quotes and festival accolades. From Cinemavault. My girlfriend picked it out of the “new releases” section based on the cover’s rave quote from Dog Lover Magazine (and I’M the animation fan!). Quite a coincidence to see it featured when I checked into Cartoon Brew this morning.

    • Carl, would you please contact me?
      [email protected]

    • Carolyn Bates

      Thanks, Carl. Great comments on Tulip. It was my favorite film of the Ottawa festival last year. Congrats to Paul & Sandra on the NYC screenings. Will check out Cinemavault.

  • Thanks, Carl. I have to look into this. I know that our producers have some sort of deal with Cinemavault; there is just so much going on with this end of the business that I know very little about. Once the animation is done Sandra and I have no say about what happens next; the movie is not our property.

    BTW, we got some good reviews today from two major sources:



    • “The box is full of pull-quotes and festival accolades. From Cinemavault.” I just found out, Carl; it seems to be a case of contract violation…

  • Joe Dorsey

    Christopher Plummer’s voice has such character. He really compliments the film. I’m interested to see this in full.