Chris Robinson

Alone, Stinking & Unafraid: Screen Test Dummies

In this new edition of Alone, Stinking & Unafraid, Chris Robinson, the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, discusses the poor state of feature film submissions that he receives at the festival.

Illustration by Theo Ushev
illustration by Theodore Ushev

Fuck people, ya gotta stop speculating from dustbunnies. Wanna know why THIS and THAT wasn’t in Feature competition at Ottawa in 2006? Cause they weren’t submitted tis why. Ya just had to ask rather than beeeeee-atch about what you know nothing about. We chase stuff we like to a degree, but we don’t beg. You dont want to send your film, I ain’t gonna cry. Course that makes me wonder WHY we’re doing a feature category to being with. We started it cause it was apparently what the masses wanted (course i should know by now that the masses dont know their ass from an elf)…we started it cause apparently everyone was making features now. So okay, we’re friendly, we’re here for ya.. but what happens? Producers don’t bother with animation festivals. Suddenly Annecy and Ottawa aren’t good enuff for their green purposes. They want Toronto, Berlin, Venice. Can understand to a degree, but seems these folks forget that animation festivals were the ones who gave em their place to begin with. They all started with shorts, shorts that relied on festivals to find an audience. But now they’re too good, not just for animation festivals, but animation in general.

Does it bother me… slightly…but in truth I also don’t wanna waste precious festival space for films that already have an audience. That’s not really the point of festivals (in case u furgot). Result? We get what we get and have to deal with it. Often that means a lot of godawful crap like that Romeo Seal Kiss crap or straight to dvd features. Originally we aimed to have 5 features. Don’t think we ever achieved that. Usually hard enough to find 3. Last year I was glad to show Christies and Book of the Dead and sure I did think of the masses when showing Kids Next Door (although, in tv land context, it ain’t bad), but in truth, none of the three entries stroked me to pleasureville. That’s nothing too new. outside of maybe 10-15 short films, I’m generally selecting stuff that don’t clickety clack my track. Problem is though that we’re taking up a total of 6 programming spots (we show all films twice) for 3 non-clacking films. Space is better used showing another 30-40 short films that, hey, likely don’t move me towards stars, but warrant being shown AND will undoubtedly help out a lot of neglected short film animators. And this year, that’s what we will do if the crop of feature submissions continue to smell like your mom after a 2 week bender with kick ass post-xmas elves. Besides, why the need to make a feature? Most of you can’t even conceive for a few minutes, so why the fug do u wanna prattle bout air for 10 x that? It’s not a race kids and if you think it is, then you belong in the F1. I mean, you’re just racing around in circles, going nowhere anyway. At least car crashes are cool.

Chris Robinson is the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and a noted author/critic/historian whose books include Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation, Ottawa Senators: Great Stories from the NHL’s First Dynasty, Unsung Heroes of Animation, and Great Left Wingers and Stole This From a Hockey Card: A Philosophy of Hockey, Doug Harvey, Identity & Booze. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, Kelly, and sons Jarvis and Harrison.