Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Revengeance" premiere in France!!

As you all probably know, a company called E.D. Distribution, based in Paris, has been my major distributor in France and French-speaking territories since 1999 or so - they've released all of my feature films throughout France to great success -

In New York, hardly anyone knows me, however when I walk down the street in Paris, everyone says, "Bonjour Monsieur Plympton!"

E.D. Distribution is very excited about the potential success for our (Jim Lujan and me) new feature film "Revengeance".  However, they decided to change the title to something more French, "La Vengeresse". 

So, two weeks ago I flew over to Paris to do a bunch of interviews and appearances at theaters.  It was a new kind of strategy - because in the past, I'd meet with the press a few weeks before the premiere.  But this time, they decided to do the press interviews as the film was being released. 




There were two problems with the release - first, the weather was spectacularly gorgeous - who wants to go to a cinema when it's a great day to sit in a café and talk about Jean-Paul Sartre?  And secondly, since the interviews and reviews appeared just as the film was being released, the early turnout for the film was a bit disappointing.  However, at each appearance I noticed the crowds got a little larger and more enthusiastic.   In fact, at the last few shows there were lines around the block and full houses with rapturous applause.  So apparently E.D.'s release strategy was working.  Vive la France!





















Near the end of the trip, I also stopped at the Pivaut school in Nantes, France to give a Master Class, where I screened my shorts and talked to the students about animation and how I manage to survive as an independent filmmaker.  The students were great, they asked a lot of good questions and I had a fun time!

Why is it that the French appreciate my humor, art and storytelling so much, while in the U.S., which represents a much larger audience it's like pulling teeth for me to get any kind of decent distribution?  Does anybody have an answer?

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Me on the Tonight Show?

That's right!  A few days ago, people started telling me that I was mentioned by Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show".  What???  Then while I was in France, everyone seemed to know about my appearance on that show, so when I returned, I decided to Google it to see what really happened.

So apparently they had a segment called "Kid Art" where some kids made drawings of members of Donald Trump's cabinet and Vice-President Pence, and Jimmy Fallon said that the drawing of Pence looked like it was made by Bill Plympton - then a whole on-camera debate started over who Bill Plympton is.  So right there on national TV, they Googled me to determine that I was Bill Plympton, the cartoonist, and not "Bill Plimpton the author".  I'm pretty sure Jimmy's sidekick confused me with journalist & author George Plimpton (different spelling, but it's happened before...) because he mentioned "Paper Lion", a book that George Plimpton wrote.

Then someone in the band (Questlove?) seemed to recognize my name, but he said I was the animator who worked with Frank Zappa - unfortunately, that wasn't me either, that was Bruce Bickford - but it was fun being the topic of conversation on a late-night talk show!

Here's the clip, if you want to see Fallon talking about me and looking me up:


In fact, I'm going to try to contact their guest department, and demand to have equal time to clear up who I am.  Maybe I could draw a caricature of Fallon, Pence or even Trump - then America will finally discover me and my work.  Hey, I've got to start promoting "Revengeance" somewhere, why not an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show?

The weird thing is, I knew George Plimpton, we didn't really run in the same social circles but we did both live in New York in the 1970's, and we figured we were probably distantly related, though we weren't exactly sure how.  He wrote an introduction for one of my caricature books, and in return I drew this caricature of him: 


So that's a PLYMPTON caricature of a PLIMPTON - and maybe in that drawing, he's making a drawing of me?  Who knows... 

--Bill Plympton

Monday, April 3, 2017

MoCCA Arts Festival

I love the Society of Illustrators!  It's my favorite institution in NYC, and every year they have what's called MoCCA Fest (MoCCA stands for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art).  What's great about it is that it's exclusively for independent artists. No DC Comics, no Marvel, no Disney, strictly artists who have unique styles and make their own illustrations and comics.  I've been working a table there for years (I don't remember the first year I went) and I'm usually the only animator in the bunch, which is good because I don't compete with all the other comic artists.


Lately, I've noticed that my DVDs don't sell as well as they did in the past, so I concentrate more on my original art - and it seems my art is now very collectible, especially pieces from my early films, like "Your Face", "How to Kiss" and "Guard Dog".  Thank God people remember my old films.

Also, it's great to see a lot of my illustrator friends there - people like Steve Brodner, John Cuneo, Felipe Galindo, R.O. Blechman, Arnie and Carolyn Roth.  I'm also looking for a publisher for my new book, "The Art of Revengeance", so I was able to cruise the indie publishers and talk up the book. 

                         with Felipe Galindo, Andrea Arroyo, Peter Kuper and Steve Brodner

One thing I noticed this year, compared to years past, is that there seemed to be a majority of female artists, which is great!  Their stories seem to be a lot more quirky and relationship-focused, which is the kind of stuff I love. 

So if you're around next year, definitely check out MoCCA Arts Festival - you'll have a blast and you'll be supporting young comic artists.

--Bill


Friday, March 31, 2017

Catching up...

After the studio move, I'm still catching up on what's been going on in the last few weeks -

I went to a wonderful festival, FICAM, in Meknes, Morocco that was run by Mohamed Beyoud.  It all takes place in the Institute Francais estate (Morocco used to be a French territory) and screening hall.  It's located in a very fertile forest, with Arabic tents located everywhere, with a wonderful large central tent where we ate all of our meals.  The audiences were terrific, lots of fans with a great appreciation for and knowledge of animation.


                                                       with Alexis Hunot at FICAM

Plus, there was a preponderance of great animators there - Michael Dudok De Wit ("The Red Turtle"), Michel Ocelot ("Kirikou"), Ann Marie Fleming ("Window Horses", "La vie en Rosie"), Claude Barras ("My Life as a Zucchini"), Jean-Francois Laguionie ("Louise in Winter") and the great David Silverman,  who was a complete rock star there because he directed "The Simpsons Movie".



                                                    with David Silverman in Morocco!

We were never able to just sit and talk without a line forming to get sketches of Bart or Homer - yes, "The Simpsons" is an international phenomenon.  So if you have a new film next year, definitely enter it into FICAM, and try to go - it's a lovely festival and they have the most succulent oranges I've ever eaten.

Next item, I've just finished my newest "Dog" film, called "Cop Dog", and I believe it's my best one.  Fans have been bugging me for years for another sequel to "Guard Dog" and "Guide Dog", so I came up with what I think is a very funny story.  It's going to premiere at the Florida Film Festival in April, and you should be seeing it soon at other film festivals.  Watch for it, you'll love it!

Also, I've decided to start a Patreon account, so my fans can follow up on the studio's new projects.  We'll be deciding on the rewards soon - that's always a critical decision because if it's something to mail, it's a big chore and if it's something people can download that's so much easier, but maybe not as valued.  So I have to figure out something that's cool but also easy to send.

And finally, I don't know if you saw it, but my most recent "Couch Gag" for "The Simpsons" premiered a couple of weeks ago, to universal applause and acclaim, and if you missed it, you can see it on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/TheSimpsons/status/839934521751425025

I love working for "The Simpsons" - they're all great guys and the shows are seen all over the world!  Weird...

So those are my excuses for the delay in my Scribble Junkies posts.  I promise to be a good boy and post a weekly or bi-weekly report.  Thanks for your attention.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

We've moved!!

I suppose you're all wondering where I've been lately - I haven't posted in a while.  Not to worry, I'm back - I've been too busy with a number of projects, which I'll post about in a couple of days.

But first, I decided to move my office - my landlord increased my rent by $2000, which I can't afford, so I had to find a new location - and as usual it was a tough chore.  But I finally found something I can handle, even though it's a little smaller than the space I was in on 27th St. for 10 (or was it 11?) years. 

                                                 Packing up the old studio on 27th St.

So last Thursday we made the big move.  My friend Signe turned me on to these Russian movers out of Brooklyn that she used when she moved her studio last year...  The day came, and a lot of people showed up to help pack everything up, while the Russians started moving the desks, tables and file cabinets.  Everything seemed to be going well, and we even stopped for a pizza break - but when the freight elevator shut down for a lunch break, that set us behind a bit.


It looked like there was no way we were going to finish in time - because the freight elevator in the new building was scheduled to shut down at 5 pm, and there was still a truckload of furniture and merchandise that needed to be loaded in.  Meanwhile, the Russians were thinking that the best way around this was to take the truck full of my office furniture back to Brooklyn and put everything into storage until Saturday - then suddenly they were talking about finishing the job on Monday. 

Somehow, my office manager, John Holderried, was able to convince the movers to stay on track and finish the job, which saved the day.  Then he magically got them access to the freight elevator in the new building for another couple hours, so the rest of the stuff could be loaded in.  And he and Wendy stayed late to tell the movers where to put everything, so it all could be done in one day, which was a minor miracle.  

                               The new space on 30th St., waiting for the rest of the furniture

All the order we had in the old studio is completely gone, now we're trying to get our computers, merchandise and files back in some kind of order - not an easy task.  Plus the new studio is chock-a-block with mysterious boxes without labels and we just don't know what's what.

                                                   We don't even know where to start!

Anyway, here is our new studio address - 151 West 30th St., Suite 405, New York NY 10001.  We're trying to get the old phone number moved over to the new studio - but right now, there's no phone or decent internet - so if you need to reach us, please call us on our cell phones! 

We'll be back to regular business really soon!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, March 3, 2017

Loose Ends

I've got a few bits of scattered news this week -

My Plympton Animation University course is coming to an end.  The students have done terrific work - it's been really fun to watch their films come together.  Next week we'll have some kind of class film festival, and I'm excited to see all of the (semi-)finished films.

I also just found out that the newest "Couch Gag" I created for "The Simpsons" is scheduled to premiere on (probably) the March 12 episode.  So please keep an eye out for that.  This will be my FIFTH couch gag, and I don't think any other guest animator has done more than 1 or 2.

There are actually two endings to this short piece, one suggested by Mr. Matt Groening himself, and the other one by me - it's a pretty cool spot, so check it out and let me know what you think. They told me one ending will be for TV and the other is for the internet - and I'm curious to see the kind of sound they added to it.

Finally, congratulations to Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner, who reached their Kickstarter goal of $126,000 for their new animated feature "My Love Affair With Marriage".  Their campaign was very successful in the final week, and they even exceeded their goal, raising over $132,000 - I thought maybe they were crazy to set the mark so high, but they did it!  Hooray!!

Also, speaking about crowdfunding, my brilliant animator friend Alex Budovsky showed my the first 20 seconds of his new short film, "Breezin' Along with the Brooklyn Breeze", and it looks like it will be the best thing he's ever done.  He's got an IndieGogo campaign, please check it out and support it if you can.  It's going to be a fantastic film!  Please follow this link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/breezin-along-with-the-brooklyn-breeze-music-animation#/

Thanks!

Bill Plympton

Images from "Breezin' Along With the Brooklyn Breeze":




Friday, February 24, 2017

"Revengeance" Festival Premiere in Portland

Being from Oregon, I thought it would be very cool to have the U.S. film festival premiere of "Revengeance", co-directed by Jim Lujan and myself, at the Portland International Film Festival.


I was very excited to be with my family and friends from the Portland area to show them what I'd been working on for the last three years. 

The great LAIKA Studios (whose feature "Kubo and the Two Strings" is up for an Oscar this year) helped to sponsor the show - they flew me to Portland and got me a room at the fanciest hotel in Portland - first class, all the way. 

Jim Lujan and his wife, Leann, decided to drive up from L.A. to experience Portland - unfortunately, that was the weekend of the worst storm in California in years - so they spent most of the drive dodging fallen trees, landslides and flooding rivers.  I gave up my hotel room and stayed with my sister so they'd have a place to recover from all that. 


Once in Portland, though, they experienced the warmth and charm of the city.  Our first screening was at the classic Laurelhurst Theater - we had a full house and the audience laughed throughout the film, even though they weren't necessarily all our usual core audience. 


"Revengeance" is really targeted at a younger crowd, maybe 16-30, and the Portland Festival is usually an older crowd, used to some very sophisticated films.  So it was very satisfying to learn that our film appeals to all viewers (though, still not suitable for children...)


It was fun to do the Q&A, because I was the straight man, talking about the history and creative process, and Jim was the comic relief.  You could call us the "Abbott and Costello" of animation. 


There was a second screening on Sunday, 2/19, at the Whitsell Auditorium, which is inside the Portland Art Museum. 

From here, the film goes on to other festivals around the country (it's already playing at festivals internationally) and then it opens commercially in France in early April.  So, if you know anyone who wants to help distribute a kick-ass film in the U.S., please contact me.

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Revengeance" - U.S. festival premiere in Portland, OR!

Hey, animation fans - and I know you cartoon fans are out there - do I have good news for you!

My latest and greatest film is having its U.S. festival premiere this coming weekend at the prestigious Portland International Film Festival (Feb. 9-25). 

As you probably know, Portland, Oregon is where I was born and raised, where I began my career as a cartoonist and animator - so it's especially sweet that I get to premiere the new film there, and I will be there in person to present the film, and give a free sketch to anyone who attends -

Also, as a great added surprise bonus, co-director Jim Lujan will be driving up from L.A. to help me introduce "Revengeance".  Jim wrote the film and in fact is the main creative force behind this crazy political biker film.  He also designed the characters and backgrounds, did the music and created aboutu 80% of all of the voices.  I storyboarded and produced the film, co-directed and did all of the animation. 

So, if you or anyone you know lives in the Oregon-Washington area, I encourage you to attend, or at least help spread the word, to support one of the craziest underground films around.

Screenings will take place on Saturday, February 18, 8:45 pm at the Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside Street, and on Sunday, February 19, 2:15 pm at the Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave. (inside the Portland Art Museum).  Tickets and more info are available here:

https://nwfilm.org/films/revengeance/

By the way, a number of reviewers are comparing the villain of this film, Senator Deathface, who was a TV star that turned into a corrupt politician, to a certain elected personality who is all over the news these days.  However, Jim wrote the script about three years ago, so perhaps it's just the luck of history that these two characters are so similar.  But please come out to the screenings and see for yourself!


We hope to get a big crowd there, so I hope you can all come, and bring your friends!  Help keep Portland weird! 

Bill P.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Annie Awards 2017

Wow! What a great event!  The Annies were so cool!  I got there early so I didn't miss anyone - although, as always, there were some people I missed.

I arrived at the Royce Hall with Khorvash, who was one of my artists and was looking forward to making some industry connections, because she wants to move to L.A. for job opportunities.

At the opening reception, we talked to Jerry Beck, animation historian and president of ASIFA-Hollywood.  He's also hosting animation specials on Turner Classic Movies.  We got to chat with Henry Selick of "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline" fame.  We both got our start at MTV - he's working on a new feature film.  I also got to say hello to Ron Clements and John Musker of "Little Mermaid" and "Moana" fame - it seems they love stories about girls and water.

                                                                  Me with Jerry Beck

                                                                  with Henry Selick

I chatted with legendary animator Caroline Leaf - when I was just starting out in animation, she was riding high with "The Street" and "Two Sisters".  She was there to receive the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime career achievement.

                                                                  with Caroline Leaf

I met up with J.J. Sedelmaier, who was the producer of the Ford commercial I directed, "The Importance of Paying Attention: Teeth", which was nominated for the Annie Award for best broadcast commercial.

I also saw my old buddy, Ralph Eggleston from Pixar, the creator of the Oscar-winning short "For the Birds".  He's now working on Brad Bird's next feature.

                     with John Hays, J.J. Sedelmaier (2nd from left) and Ralph Eggleston (far right)

After a lot of drinks and hors d'oeuvres, we filed into Royce Hall for the presentation of the prizes.  One of the surprise presenters was Kobe Bryant, the great Lakers basketball star.  He took the stage with another star, Glen Keane, animator par excellence.  They were quite good together - they should have their own TV reality show.

The awards were fairly predictable - "Piper", the Pixar short, won and also "Zootopia", the billion-dollar box office champ won Best Feature, among other prizes.  We then all retired to the buffet dinner to chat and have more drinks.

I hung out with my buddies from "The Simpsons", Matt Groening and David Silverman.  I also got to chat with my old friend, Michael Dudok de Wit, maker of the Oscar-winning short "Father and Daughter" and the Oscar-nominated feature "The Red Turtle".  We both started out in the animation business in the mid-80's, and I'm so happy to see his great success using 2-D animation.

                                                         with David Silverman (far right)

                                                          with Michael Dudok de Wit

As the evening wound down, I was also able to talk to Jan Pinkava and Glen Keane about perhaps doing some work for Google, which would be so much fun.  Glen had a great success with "Duet" on Google.

                                                                   with Jan Pinkava

                                                                     with Glen Keane

I know this blog sounds like a lot of animation name-dropping, but all these people I mentioned are my heroes, and coming from New York, I'm very jealous of the great success these people are having.  So I'm hoping to learn the path to animation success from them.

                                                  with Rick Farmiloe and Christi Haydon

By the way, be sure to check out another New York animator, Signe Baumane, and her Kickstarter campaign.  She needs your help to make her next feature, please visit  KickstartMarriageFilm.com

Thanks!

Bill Plympton

Friday, February 3, 2017

Academy Award Nominations 2017

On another topic, they announced the nominations for the Best Animated Feature last week.  They are:
"Zootopia" - A terrific film that should win.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" - a beautifully-made film, directed by Travis Knight, that should have a strong showing.
"Moana" - a visual delight, but the story was too traditional for my tastes.

"My Life as a Zucchini" - with very untraditional stop-motion animation, but a heartfelt story.

"The Red Turtle" - by Michael Dudok DeWit, another visual masterpiece that proves that 2-D animation can compete with CGI for gorgeous style.

I was disappointed that some films didn't make the cut, like "The Little Prince", directed by Mark Osborne, "Phantom Boy", directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, and my favorite "Sausage Party", directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, and co-written and co-produced by Seth Rogen.  But I had no illusions that this would be nominated, still, it's a breakthrough film.

As for the short animated films, I'd put my money on "Pear Cider and Cigarettes", written and directed by Robert Valley.  It's a masterpiece! 
I'll be back next week with a report on my trip to L.A. and the Annie Awards!

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

L.A. trip - Annie Awards

What's Up?  Yesterday I flew out to Hollywood for a week - the main purpose for the trip is to attend the Annie Awards (animation's version of the Oscars) where my short commercial for Ford, produced by J.J. Sedelmaier, is in competition.  The commercial is called "The Importance of Paying Attention: Teeth" and warns about the dangers of distracted driving. 

I love the Annies, because I get to chat with all the hoi polloi in the cartoon business - I often get to meet people this way who I've long admired, and also get real insight into the animation industry - since I'm a real outsider in the business.

Also, now that "Revengeance" is doing the festival circuit, it's an opportunity to maybe do some deals that could benefit the release of this film. 

I don't expect to win a prize at the Annies - my Ford commercial is micro-budget compared to the competition.  The others look like they have million-dollar budgets.  But that's OK, it's fun to just be in the limelight momentarily.

Also, while I'm in L.A. I've scheduled some MasterClass presentations at Disney, USC and Dreamworks.  I guess they're mystified over how I'm able to survive as an independent animator, outside of L.A.

I want to show them some of my new projects - "No Snow For Christmas" (sung by Maureen McElheron), "Cop Dog" (it's almost finished) and of course, the piéce de resistance, a clip from "Revengeance".   

I'll post some pictures from the trip next week, and later this week I'll weigh in on the Oscar nominations for animated features and shorts.  Talk to you then!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, January 27, 2017

Signe Baumane's "My Love Affair With Marriage"

As some of you may already know, the great animator Signe Baumane started off her meteoric rise in the New York animation world by working at my studio.  So no doubt, I'm a bit prejudiced towards her films.

But I just saw her Kickstarter pitch for her new film and was knocked out!  Her follow-up to her amazing film "Rocks in My Pockets" will be called "My Love Affair With Marriage". 

The animation clip is terrific and her description of the film seems like it's the perfect concept for an animated film.  And I think the time is right for a film about relationships told from a strong female perspective.

Signe has been married twice, and she's always been completely honest (to me, anyway) in her analysis of men and sexual relations - so I have no doubt this film will be quite outrageous.  And Signe did a lot of research about what chemical and biological changes take place in the human body when we fall in and out of love. 

She plans on hiring a number of celebrities for the voices, so in order to pay for them, she's decided to turn to Kickstarter - which is a great idea, since Hollywood doesn't have the balls to support an honest, sexually frank animated film made by a woman -

So I'm encouraging all my fans and friends to help support Signe in her quest to animate this exposé into the murky world of male-female passions -

I, for one, will donate and I hope you do too, because you'll be supporting an independent film that will be a piece of art, with a story that definitely needs to be seen by the world.

You can find her Kickstarter campaign at the link below, or search Kickstarter for "My Love Affair With Marriage".

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1055277857/my-love-affair-with-marriage

Thanks for your support,

Bill Plympton


Monday, January 23, 2017

January 2017 update

This is to update you all on my current projects -

The Plympton Animation School is moving along well - we have some very talented students in the live class, and they have some great ideas for short films.  A lot of people are taking the same course over the internet, and I'm very excited about seeing their finished projects in a few weeks.  I hope we can put them all together on a DVD. 

I'm also now finishing my next Simpsons couch gag, which is called "The Artiste".  I think it's one of the funniest I've done, it's very crazy. 

We're waiting to hear from a couple of prominent film festivals right now that are close to announcing their schedules, I can't really say which ones - but we're hoping that one or two of them will select "Revengeance", and then we can announce the U.S. festival premiere.  Please stay tuned!  

Once my office manager has finished doing some year-end accounting for 2016, he's going to concentrate on getting some of the Kickstarter rewards from the "Revengeance" campaign sent out.  I know, we said we'd get things sent out in December 2016, but after the art sale and setting up the animation classes, we're running a little late. We're trying to catch up.

And then, Jim Lujan and I are working together on a script for a new feature film, called "Slide".  It's about a mythical country-western singer who travels the land, saving good people from bad people - and it takes place in a beautiful forest that hearkens back to my childhood.  I think it's going to be a very funny and crazy film, as usual.  I'll show you some of the concept art here -

I hope you'll like it! 

Bill P.


John Singer Sargent Women..

Sargent had a way of conveying the beauty and power of the female.. Starting with one of my favorite paintings of all time, Portrait of Madame X..