There was an older gentleman sitting in front of me on the bus a couple days ago, and he was talking to some other folks about Harry Houdini. For some reason, I felt compelled to take a glance at his name tag and find out who he was. It turned out to be none other than the legendary Jimmy Murakami, UPA veteran, independent filmmaker, and longtime animation director in the UK of, among many other projects, WHEN THE WIND BLOWS. That’s the great thing about festivals. You never know who you’re going to meet, but it’s guaranteed to be somebody interesting. I’ve met a bunch of great artists over the past few days including BLAST readers Lance Taylor (whose TV pilot MONSTORIES is in competition) and Jamie Badminton, who is working at Vanguard Animation on VALIANT. I also had a chance to chat with Tomm Moore and Paul Young of the exciting Irish cartoon studio Cartoon Saloon, and fellow Irish studio head Barry O’Donoghue, who produced Teddy Newton and Bert Klein’s BOYS NIGHT OUT and has some other interesting shorts currently in production at his studio Barley Films. Just a few of the other folks I’ve met: animation designer Harald Siepermann from Germany, animator Joseph Gilland from Canada, Vancouver Film School students Aron Steinke and Adam Yaniv, San Francisco musician Nik Phelps, and his wife/producer Nancy, who both do an admirable job of promoting indie animation, and the New York cartoonist contingent (Patrick Smith, Jim Campbell, Celia Bullwinkel and Robert Kohr of AnimatorsUnite.com).
Sleep is not part of the schedule at a festival like Annecy. With the exception of one night where I managed a full twelve hours of sleep, all my other nights in Annecy have only generated 3-4 hours of shut eye. But the opportunities to meet all the people mentioned above among many other fine folks more than makes up for the lack of slumber. To give an example of the type of activities available here in Annecy, in the span of the last 24 hours, in addition to watching films, I’ve been to an intimate late-night gathering at the picturesque ANIMATION MAGAZINE villa, a fun little picnic by Lake Annecy with animation folk like Bill Plympton, Georges Schwizgebel, Signe Baumane and Patrick Smith, and a late-night gathering at the incredibly packed “American Bar,” a Scottish pub where mostly English-speaking folks hang out when there’s no other parties going on.