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This Way Up by Smith & Foulkes

This Way Up

The Animation Show has announced the film line-up for their fourth annual tour, and the most exciting piece being offered, in my opinion, is the premiere of an exclusive short film by the British commercial directing duo Smith & Foulkes.

Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes are among my favorite directors working in commercial animation today. Evidence of their terrifically innovative and humorous commissioned work can be seen here, here, here, here and here. As far as I know, this is the first personal piece they’ve produced since beginning to work as professional directors, and if it’s as fresh and original as their commercial work, it should be something special.

The new Animation Show has some other promising works in their line-up including Stefan Muller’s Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen & Mr. Horlocker, the hilarious Japanese series Usavich and an exclusive new short by PES called Western Spaghetti. This year’s Show, however, is a major departure from previous years in that the lineup is not particularly challenging or artistically meritorious, and it’s heavily geared towards lighter and goofier fare, especially from younger directors.

A film like Angry Unpaid Hooker veers dangerously close to Spike & Mike territory, and while it’s a fairly amusing piece, it’s also an aesthetic eyesore that’s more suited for online viewing than bigscreen theatrical exhibition. Similarly, Luis Nieto’s Far West is more gimmick than film and not the quality of programming that we’ve come to expect from the Animation Show. Bottom line: There’s good stuff in this year’s program and I’m looking forward to checking it out, though I can’t promise the overall experience will be as great as years past. The first screenings of the 2008 show take place on April 25 in Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.

  • Do you think Dons departure from the showing has tilted the show more towards a spike and mike route?

    Either way, thanks for the inspiration, that Motorola piece was amazing.

  • John

    WTF? A bunch of the cartoons in this line-up are available online, too.

    What’s Animation Show doing with crappy Internet toons? Don’t these guys usually show major premieres and high class Oscar noms? Now I’m dying to know what’s going on at that company. Did Hertzfeldt leave because of this lousy shift in taste, or did they fall to pieces now without his input?

  • I guess only time will tell. Without Don Hertzfeldt’s input, the show might be missing something. It’s like a band losing a prominent musician, and if the band chooses to carry on, they have to make some adjustments. There’s no telling if the adjustment is for better or for worse. We just have to wait and see. My hope is that the show will not have a shortage of 2D hand-drawn pieces.

  • david

    What is wrong with younger directors?

    I disagree with you Amid about some of the films.

    Far West in a theater would be amazing to see in a theater for the reaction of the general audience who has never heard of Nieto nor seen Carlitopolis.

    For Angry Unpaid Hooker I refer you to Year 1’s Adventures of Ricardo. While the Ricardo shorts are animated better than AUH, it’s still pretty crude, but it was really funny. the writing and mainly the voices were key in why the two work. I disagree with you about the eyesoreness too. I think if you’re going to barely animate, let the visuals reflect that.

  • John

    My main frustration with this line up isn’t so much the crudeness of the shorts or lack of artistry (and don’t get me wrong, I wish they’d at least throw us that new Aardman one or some rare award winners), but the fact that I just spent half an hour on Google and already found over 3/4 of the program to watch.

    Really annoyed how they expect to charge us $10-12 to watch free Internet junk that they’re just blowing up to fill a screen. I thought the point of the Animation Show was to release rare festival toons meant for theaters in the USA, where they never otherwise be seen.

    What’s clear now is the big difference in the sensibilites of Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt. With Hertzfeldt gone, it’s obvious he was the guy who brought us “Mars and Beyond”, the Oscar winners, all the beautifully animated foreign toons. I like Mike Judge alright but it’s clear from this line up that he’s a comedian and not much of an animation aficionado. Hate to say it, but it looks for me like Animation show minus Hertzfeldt = no sale :(

  • Nancy

    I’m a fan of Mike and Don’s work and love the Animation Show. I’m confused though because the tour hasn’t come to my home city and this looks like an early review. Have any of you seen it in a theater yet? What’s posted there looks like only 40 minutes of movies. What’s up?

    John I agree with you about seeing the films online. For the last two years i’ve looked online to find the films and got them eventually. I’m not looking this time. Watching “Rabbit” at the Music Box last year rocked! My boyfriend is a huge Pes fan and “Game Over” was so much better than the pixel crap version on youtube. Besides those two though last years show was kind of sad, like depressing sad. The films were good but I was exhausted going home. The new Aardman movie would be great to see but it’s everywhere online. I bet it’s different on a big screen.

    Thank you for the lead on Smith and Foulkes Amid. If it goes on to win an Oscar does the Animation Show get a shout out for playing it first?

  • david

    Firstly, that new Aardman film “Pearce Sisters” is on atomfilms.. and that 3/4 of the program you found online-how much of it was from youtube/other poor quality sites?

    and before last year’s show i was able to find Rabbit, Game over, Overtime, 9, and city paradise online, not really legal channels. Yet seeing Rabbit on the big screen with theater sound,was way better than watching it on the computer.

    and in the past Rejected has been widely bootlegged on the internet, does that mean it shouldn’t be seen on the big screen?

    do you think most people who go to the show, try to find all the films online?

  • Jeff

    I didn’t realize the Animation Show listed which films Mike picked and which films Don picked. Do Don or Mike ever write anything on the Animation Show website? I actually read in an interview that Mike really liked the “Mars and Beyond” film and it was one of his favorites from childhood.

    I was also under the impression that this was just a portion of the new line-up. I’d much rather watch these new films on the big screen with an audience than on a 3×3 frame by myself. Why must the animation community always take down something or somebody who is trying to do good things for animation. I think I’ll wait and see the film before I decide if I like the film or not.

  • John

    Flash shorts that were expressly created for the Internet and have been available online for ages don’t really qualify as something I’d need to see on the big screen. Amid’s right, what’s the point of bringing that into theaters? It’s not like there’s a lack of awesome film fest shorts out there that actually belong in theaters but never get distributed in my town. I just want to know where’s the Annecy and Oscar stuff we usually get from these guys. Last year we had the premiers of new Hertzfeldt and new Plympton and things I never even heard of before. I hope we get some surprises in this program, right now it just feels lazy to me.

  • Nancy

    At the show we went last year Bill Plympton talked about how Animation Show was paying artists more than any other group to play their films in theaters. I thought that was cool. So now by going I can at least support something that’s helping out animators even if I’ve seen their film before online. I don’t see where you’re seeing films that were created for the internet listed. Do you mean the one called “Usavich”? That film is listed as running 1:30 minutes long. Why would you attack a program you haven’t seen based on a partial line up that’s been posted on a webiste? The Animation Show is the only game in town. Mike and Don are the only ones bringing ANY shorts to your hometown. What’s lazy about that? Playing on your internet at home is nothing compared to seeing any of these movies in a theater. Jeff is right why are cartoonbrew people bagging on that? Some one is doing something different than the three or four animation for kids movies that come out each year. And last year some of the best peices (beavis and butthead, the samurai movie and Davey and Goliath) weren’t announced on the website at all. We’ll have to wait and see but i’m there no matter what.

  • John

    Nancy, I think you’re missing my point and Amid’s point.

    We both love the Animation Show. What we don’t love is how this program looks, that’s all. Flash cartoons and non-premieres are not up to par with the amazing programming of years past. That’s all we’re saying. The rest is our speculation. My only guess why the programming is suffering is because Hertzfeldt left. It’s the most obvious thing that changed.

    I’m afraid we have to disagree on which were the best films last year. For my money it was “Everything will Be OK”, “9”, “Guide Dog”, the British one about the wedding, and “Rabbit”. All those won major awards and were brand new to me.

    If you truly thought that thirty second Butthead thing was one of the best shorts last year, no offense, but maybe you will enjoy this year’s program much more than I will :) I’m just disappointed in this program, that’s all.

  • DavidE

    I’m real late to the comments party here, but the Animation Show just premiered last night and I gotta say Amid’s early assessment was spot on. Other than one or two things, it was mostly a disappointing program. This guy shares my opinion:

  • steven j

    I’ve been a big fan of Cartoon Brew for a while and looking forward to the Animation Show’s premiere here in Chicago since last year’s incredible program. The review David E links to was a horrible misrepresentation of the show. A “fan” with blog featuring two posts? I was thrilled to read the shows write up in the Chicago Tribune and all of the write ups here have been really great so we took a few friends tonight to watch the program. I was blown away! What a great program of work. Cartoon Brew should follow up with a real review. For a community that supports indie work I expected more support. These responses are ill informed nonsense.