It’s time for the ASIFA-East Animation Festival!!!
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
The New School
66 West 12th Street
Party/Reception to follow
It’s time for the ASIFA-East Animation Festival!!!
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
The New School
66 West 12th Street
Party/Reception to follow
Article by Caresse Singh.
At the wise suggestion of Kaitlin Sullivan, Rob Yulfo and I visited the Erebuni gallery a day before the opening of the fifth annual “Too Art for TV.” We rounded the corner of Union and Metropolitan and at the kind direction of a stranger made our way to 158 Roebling. There, we stood in front of a building with a shark painted on its’ façade. I entered to find a small crew bustling about, putting their finishing touches on what would be an inspiring display of the work of 40 artists working in the Animation Industry. In one corner, one woman worked on aligning the labels to perfection, while in another corner, a woman worked on lining up a giant frame.
Liz Artinian, the curator and creator of Too Art for TV took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss with me the history of Too Art for TV. She explained that as far as being a curator goes, she started off with the Stay Gold Gallery. Ambitious and eager to form a venue in which her friends (all members of the animation community) could exhibit their work, she took it upon herself to form the first Too Art for TV as an end of season exhibit for the Stay Gold Gallery. The event was met with great success and she was welcomed to plan the event again the following year. She described the first exhibit as being a bit cruder – since there was less exposure, there were less people involved and less in the way of specific tastes. Since then, Too Art for TV has skyrocketed in the span of merely 5 years to be one of the events of the year for everyone in the Animation industry. Read the rest of this entry »
Diane Kredensor’s formative years were spent making children’s books out of construction paper and way too much Elmer’s glue, and her grown-up years have been spent pursuing a successful career in children’s animation in Los Angeles and New York. She still hasn’t grown up all the way, something of which she’s proud. Diane is an Emmy Award-winning artist who has worked on such hit shows as Pinky and the Brain, Oswald, and WordWorld, to name a few. Her first children’s book, Ollie & Moon, that she wrote and illustrated—published by Random House— will be released April 26, 2011. Her second book in the series hits bookstores Summer 2012! Diane happily makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her three loves—two of whom bear a passing resemblance to Ollie and Moon.
Interview by David B. Levy
1-You had the experience of supervising Storyboards on the aborted production produced “Nate the Great,” at the short-lived NY Studio Animagic. Since that company closed you started your own animation company, Tricycle Films, and have had success in development at PBS Kids as well as your own children’s book published at Random House. How much did your burst of creativity and entrepreneurship have to do with reacting to what happened at Animagic?
Good question! I guess ever since I can remember I’ve been a mix of creativity and entrepreneurship. As a kid, I’d set up my homemade lemonade stand by the side of the road and if you bought a cup of lemonade it would be accompanied by a silly cartoon written and drawn by yours truly. I was a big fan of puns, so a typical cartoon would say something like, “Look out, Bob’s on a roll!” written under a crude drawing of a guy running atop an actual dinner roll. I called my stand “The Cool Off and Laugh Spot”. I’m truly surprised it never took off and became a successful chain.
As a grown up, I’ve been a part of some really solid animation productions and I’ve also been a part of some real clunkers. The experience at Animagic was incredibly disappointing. There was a lot of talent, but we couldn’t do what needed to be done to make the great show we knew was possible. And that was because we weren’t in the position to make those decisions. So even though I’ve always had the entrepreneur spirit, the experience with Animagic definitely fueled the fire to develop and sell my own ideas. And more importantly, to be a part of creating teams that are collaborative, creative, and experienced to produce a successful show.
New additions to the Events Calendar:
April 12th, Tuesday 7pm
The Graphic Artists Guild of NY presents – The Art of the Graphic Novel with Gareth Hinds
April 15th, Friday 7pm – 7am
Pratt Institute presents – Draw-A-Thon 23
April 27th, Wednesday 6:30pm
Society of Illustrators presents – Independently Animated, Bill Plympton
As always, full events listing & details can be found on the Events Calendar at www.asifaeast.com
ASIFA-East presents an evening with The Rauch Bros. and their StoryCorps films.
Wednesday April 20th, 7pm
SVA 209 East 23rd Street
5th Floor, Room 502
Directed by The Rauch Bros., StoryCorps animated shorts, broadcast on PBS’ flagship documentary program POV, honor and celebrate the lives of everyday Americans. The Rauch Bros. create animation that explores the human condition with comedy and compassion. Their award-winning animated shorts have earned praise from Time, USA Today, and New York Magazine. www.rauchbrothers.com
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org/animation
StoryCorps animated shorts are presented in partnership with POV and PBS. Major funding for StoryCorps animated shorts is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Article by Tristian Goik.
Twins Are Weird…
… and apparently so is everyone else. Ha ha ha, well that is to be expected at The Peculiar Picture Parade. Twins Are Weird Productions are two lovely twins Noelle Melody and Joy Vacesse who put together an intimate festival of animation at the 92Y Tribeca Theatre last week ($10). Straight off the bat, I have to say it had one of the best panel discussions of animation I’ve ever been too. This is what I would have wanted my college classes to be like, where people discuss their feelings and ideas for creating animation, instead of being too busy with their Moleskin sketch books to talk.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Fran Krause’s latest animation Nosy Bear demonstrates. The festival itself was comprised mostly of films familiar to the ASIFA Jury audience, with a few notable exceptions. Animation Workshop is always a good bet, and The Backwater Gospel by Bo Mathorne Schou-Nielsen entertained me with a gritty ambiguous style and lots of violence to make you squirm. And Boobatary by Leah Shore is about a secretary with magnificent mammaries.
There will most likely be more of these festivals and if you get in I encourage you to make yourself available to take questions from the audience. Dusty Grella promoted his Animation Hot Line Series and told us what it is like to mail a letter to your-self everyday forever. Signe Baume opened up to the audience with her excerpts from her film Rocks in My Pocket (Suicide) and now I’m going to have to track down all her animations and watch them. Jessica “JP” Polaniecki talked about the best flea markets to buy miniatures and tiny wooden clogs. Brett W. Thompson, who designed the poster and made two short paper-n-marker films, rocked out and possibly took photos of the other panelists (hilarious).
Twins are Weird gave us a sneak peek at their latest short Place Stamp Here which creates a travel-romance out of digitized mementoes. They have a special talent for handling a Q&A session, putting their panelists at ease and letting answers run their natural course with out things getting too out of hand. I look forward to more of their screenings. And asking more ridiculous questions.
Article by Emmett Goodman.
It’s that time of year again, or those times of year again. ASIFA-East’s jury screenings for the upcoming animation festival in May. For those who are unaware of how these affairs work (and it seems we have a few newcomers), we take all submitted films and separate each night by category. There are four nights: 1) Student Films; 2) Commissioned Works; 3) Independent Films; 4) Educational/Music Videos/Experimental Films. Paid-up members of ASIFA-East get to participate in the judging, and in the end, those jury numbers are tallied up for the results. I am told this is one of the most democratic ways a film festival can work.
The Student Night this year was an odd night. Because most of the films are by unseasoned students, the animation can’t always be judged fairly compared to professional looking work. Sometimes, students are so desperate to prove themselves, their work can have a very serious and preachy quality. It is with that realization in mind, I was able to suss out what I didn’t like more easily and find a few films I particularly liked.
Something I really admire about these Student nights is that you can always sense a running theme and trend amongst the films. Each year, it is something different or slightly evolved from a previous year. From the majority, you can see what is culturally relevant to these young filmmakers. This year, one of the common themes is a concern about technology: whether it is sincere or not, some films demonstrated a growing concern over how much of our lives are controlled by technology today. In particular, relationships maintained through social networks and those we can not physically see. Another trend that’s become noticeable in independent animation are monologue films. This is a trend I credit Signe Baumane with giving new life to. The trend of the filmmaker discussing a personal experience in voice-over, and then animating it with overly exaggerated imagery. I prefer the latter of these two trends. Read the rest of this entry »
Don’t forget – our final jury screenings for the ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival are this Tuesday March 15 and Wednesday March 16. See the below invite for details!!
Jake Armstrong grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and moved to NY to study animation. He’s currently a freelance artist living in Brooklyn doing anything from animation to storyboarding to illustration and makes a bunch of things on the side.
Interview by David B. Levy
1-Your SVA Thesis short “The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9!” had nothing “student” about it, introducing you as a major new talent in the animation world. Every detail about the film including writing, design, color, and animation felt very thought out and complete. How did you achieve that when many thesis students struggle to turn in a half-complete film? (Note, your answer doubles at advice to current and future thesis students):
Thanks, David! In the first few years of college I was a total slacker, not really caring and scraping by with a D in every class. When I was a scenic design major, I had a sewing class with a mean little woman teaching it, and one time when I was asking for help on the assignment, she asked me, “If you’re not going to care about this class, why are you even $&%*ing here?” I immediately dropped my major and moved on to the next thing. When I finally got into an animation school (after getting rejected the first time), I realized that nothing is worth doing if you don’t love it.
When making my film, I wanted to showcase this idea as much as I could, making it a point to be excited about every step of the process. If you are an awesome draftsman but hate story and ignore it, it will show, the film will suffer, and the audience will suffer, and nobody will notice those cool drawings. If you don’t want to make the sound or write it, you can adapt from many sources or pay small fees to have someone do that part for you. There are ways to bypass those things. Not having extra money for those production costs, I worked very hard at making a story and idea that I’d love, and I planned my production so I was throwing sounds into the film six months before it was due.
I think the planning and care that Don Poynter (my advisor) and I pumped into it made the film work as well as it could. But how do you make a successful film? I honestly have no idea. I think I got lucky with this one, but I believe a good production schedule and a lot of effort can at least make something as good as it can be.
2-One of the joys of your film is that the storytelling unfolds strictly through pantomime. Was this always your intention? And, how did the choice of no dialogue help shape your animation?
I was kind-of always my intention, I guess. I wanted dialogue, I feel like it lends immensely to characterization to hear an actual voice. Unfortunately the story is set with a man and a giant dog, and it honestly made no sense to have them talking to each other (plus that would probably negate the whole conflict). I thought about adding a third character talking to the spaceman on a telecommunicator, giving him the assignment to kill the beast, but that was just too much exposition and the side character made the story feel convoluted. So I worked in grunts, screams, and sobs wherever I could to help give more of a dimension to the characters. Also I kind of cheated by putting the exposition in the title credits, just like expository dialogue would do. Pantomime for me is pretty fun to do, so, honestly, I think that came naturally. But for my next film, I really want to add the dimension of voices. It just adds so much to the experience.
3-When you finished the film how was it received at festivals around the world? And, did the exposure open up any opportunities for you? Did your three gigs directing spots for the preschool series Yo Gabba Gabba come out of this?
The film was luckily very well received worldwide, playing at a ton of cool venues all over the place. Still, it’s probably got a larger spread of views through being on Cartoon Brew. Being on the Internet has more or less led to a huge amount of the projects I’ve done since graduating, and has led to people in many studios around the world checking it out. I got to do the one spot on Yo Gabba Gabba, advertising at SXSW, and tons of cool storyboarding gigs for Cartoon Network shows, all of them hooked up via e-mail through the film’s internet views.
But I do want to point out that there are a ton of ways to get jobs, and I think my internship at Augenblick actually led to a lot of work as well. My other main source of jobs is mostly my friends who help me out and recommend me when I need to pay rent. In my opinion, you can never work too hard at looking for work when you’re a freelancer.
4-Some other talented folks in your SVA peer group (including Kat Morris, Rebecca Sugar, and Ian Jones-Quartey) moved to L.A. and found employment in Hollywood animation factories such as Cartoon Network. Although you also moved out their briefly, what brought you back to NYC?
Well I actually went out at the same time as Kat and Rebecca, working on the same shows at Cartoon Network. Kat went out before me, then Rebecca and Ian the following month. It’s kind of nebulous as to why I came back, I think it’s just that I didn’t feel like I was ready to leave the city yet, and that LA wasn’t quite feeling like home. I’d hate to say that Cartoon Network is a factory though, it was one of the most immensely creative and fun jobs I’ve had since graduating; and if it were in NY, I’d be knocking down their door for employment. Freelance is hard and NY, by definition, is a struggle. I probably don’t see myself staying here or in this employ forever, but for now it works and is really fun. I’d honestly love to have a cushy studio job so I could do that and work on my stuff at night.
5-This past summer you told me about another short you were animating, a more abstract non-narrative piece. How is it coming along, and why did you decide to follow up your successful “Alpha 9” narrative film with a more experimental one?
Actually I kind of lost steam on that project unfortunately. It was going to be a kind of epileptic seizure of a film, but such an experimental short is very difficult for me to put together. Hopefully I’ll continue on it in the future, but in the last year I’ve been keeping myself busy with a lot of new projects. I’m writing a couple shorts right now, and have been screenprinting (a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil) a ton. I also have a short comic I’ve started; the first section of it is going to be in the second “Fakeheads” anthology, and will be sold at MoCCa along with other recent artwork. It’s so hard to get a lot of work done when you’re working a lot, but I’ve been keeping myself really busy.
And to answer why I’m moving in this general direction, it’s because I really want to keep myself varied. When I made Alpha-9, a lot of people asked me to pitch that as a TV show, or come up with other space-related comedies. I don’t want to get myself stuck doing only narrative films, or space films, or even just shorts. I think that I still have time to try out all the different types of filmmaking, drawing, and art that I’ve (for the most part) ignored all my life, and I’m having a great time exploring all these different possibilities.
6-If we resumed this interview ten years from now, in what would be roughly be the 12th year of your career, what would you hope to be doing or have achieved?
Oh man, that’s a golden question. First, I’d hope to have loans paid off. Then I’d probably want to have moved into being a director and have worked on a feature, hopefully one in the same. I have too little focused ambition and too much varied ambition to ever really know what I want or to find a real direction. I’m crazy about films, art, cartoons, and music, and want to continue with those for the rest of my life. I hope to have made something really cool with all of them in 10 years time. That’s maybe a little ambitious, but I think that’s a good goal to have.
ASIFA East encourages its members to enter the SICAF 2011 International Digital Cartoon Competition.Digital artists—not just animators—may enter illustrations or comics of any length, from “Web Cartoon” (up to four panels) to “Creative Story” (Ten episodes of a scenario).You may enter until April 22, 2011. See the attached announcement for details and links to the competition.Ray KosarinASIFA-East International Board Representative