Monday, June 30, 2014

Annecy, Part 2

Other than my concerns over the promotion of "CHEATIN'" ("Les Amants Electriques"), there were lots of other activities going on in Annecy.  The opening night film was "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" from the great Isao Takahatao (one of the founders of Studio Ghibli).  The word was, this film was a masterpiece and could win the animation Oscar.  Well, just like Miyazaki, I think Takahatao is past his prime.  The film was lovely to look at, but the story was much too slow and long (I fell asleep a few times).  Also, I believe they ran out of money near the end, because the artwork at the end of the film was so bad, it was high-school level.

We attended the Disney/Pixar BBQ on the lawn of the Imperial Palace - this was a delightful affair where I got to chat with some Disney folks and my good friends Celia Bullwinkel and Amid Amidi, publisher of Cartoon Brew.

And then there was the delightful Dreamworks picnic, organized for many years by Shelly Page, where I got to reconnect with the great animator Jan Pinkava ("Geri's Game" and "Ratatouille"). 

But the real main focus this year (other than "CHEATIN'") was the 9th year of the Annecy Plus Festival.  This was started by Pat Smith and me back when we were frustrated that our films weren't getting selected by the judges.  The first year we held it at a bar - we put together a program of other rejected films, and the response was terrific.  So, we continued doing it as a tradition.  Eventually Pat moved to Singapore to teach, so the wonderful Nancy Phelps stepped in to help out, and of course Nik Phelps always puts together the musical part of the program.

The last few years, we've been having some trouble finding suitable venues - either the place would be too small, or the neighbors complain about the noise, it's always something.  But this year, we think we found a solution.  We teamed up with the "Annecy OFF" people, who kindly supplied us with a large docked boat named "Le Cygne" that served as a gathering and drinking place.

The projector was aimed at a large screen on the boat in front of us.  The fans set up chairs and blankets on the dock and were able to enjoy the show and feel the cool lakeside breezes as they watched four programs of shorts and listened to the wonderful Nik Phelps Band.

The place was packed - people drank and enjoyed the films - I think we had over a thousand people.  It seems that we've found a new home for Annecy Plus.   So, next year, if your film is rejected by the judges at Annecy, please send it along to Nancy or me and perhaps you'll be the next star of Annecy Plus. 

Here is the program of films we showed this year:

                           The Annecy + program (back page on the left, front page on the right)

                      The Annecy + line-up of films - thanks to everyone who submitted their work!

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Trip to Annecy

My all-time favorite film festival, Annecy, is my opportunity to show "CHEATIN'" ("Les Amants Electriques") to the animation world.

The film screened on the afternoon of the first day - which is not a very prestigious slot, since people are usually still arriving - but to our surprise, there was a packed house of cheering fans.  Sandrine (my wife/colorist/translator) and my producer, DesirĂ©e Stavracos, joined me on stage to bask in the pre-screening applause.

After the screening, we were joined in the press room by Peter Debruge (of Variety fame) to do a Q&A session.  I felt the timing was terrible, since it's my custom to sign autographs and draw sketches on cards for the fans, and hopefully sell some art immediately after a show.  And since this was the big screening in the Haras (the large screening area) I missed out on a lot of revenue to help finance my next film.

However, at the next 3 screenings I was able to meet my fans and sell some items - the biggest seller was the original art from "Hot Dog".

Originally, I felt "CHEATIN'" had a good shot at some kind of prize at Annecy - since it had already won 9 international festival prizes and garnered a lot of praise from fans and critics.  That was, until I saw my competition.

The first animated feature in competition that I saw was "The Fake" from South Korea.  This is the film that beat us for a prize in the Sitges Festival - so I was very curious to see this film.  It's a wonderful story about these crooked evangelists who are exposed by the town drunk.  And what's great about the story is that the whistle-blower is one of the most vile humans possible - he's a cheat, a thief, a child abuser, you name it - yet somehow you root for the bum.  The style is rotoscope (but good rotoscope), and my only problem was that the artist's couldn't nail the mouths - they looked so lame.

Another feature in competition was "Giovanni's Island", a heart-wrenching Japanese story about a family trying to survive the Russian occupation of a northern Japanese island.  It's a story full of beauty, romance, drama, and great characters - unfortunately, it's perhaps a little too melodramatic and the noses were terribly drawn.  Still, a sure-fire prize winner.

The last feature I saw was "A Boy and the World" ("O Menino e o Mundo"), from Brazil.  In a sense, it's a very experimental film, done in beautiful pastels and colored pencil, using lots of synthetic shapes and movement, yet it had a very powerful story.

So I figured, "I'm already screwed, three films are better than mine, and I still have three more to watch.  I give up!"

At the awards ceremony, there was a sense of relief, because I knew I wouldn't win, so there was no anxiety, I could relax.  That was, until the announcement of the Prix du Jury award, and I heard the word "lusty" - wait, that word didn't connect with any of the films I saw.  I thought maybe I should listen to this judge's speech, and then he said something about "drawn by one person".  Hmmm, how many animated features are drawn by one person?

I looked at Sandrine and DesirĂ©e - could this be true?  Did we actually win a prize?  Then the judge said, "And the winner is...CHEATIN'!!"

YEEEOUUU!  We won!  We rushed up to the stage, I tried to talk French, which was a total disaster.  The only statement I remember making was "J'adore Annecy!"  We walked backstage to get our photos taken, and I congratulated the winners from "A Boy and His World" and "Giovanni's Island".

This is so cool, because now we'll get a lot more festival invitations and also, hopefully, major distribution all over the world.  I talked to my my French distributors, E.D. Distribution, and they said the film is playing in over 90 cinemas in France now - it's a big success in France.  Why not the U.S.?  Who knows?

To be continued in Part 2...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Footprints storyboard Part 5

Here's Part 5, the final part of my rough storyboards for my new short, "Footprints".  In a week or so I'll start posting the finish storyboards, so you can all see how my idea evolved.  And watch for the film this fall in festivals!  --Bill Plympton


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Icons of Animation exhibit

I've just come from the set-up for the "Icons of Animation" show at the Society of Illustrators.  They were hanging up all of the art, and WOW, it is fantastic!  All of the drawings are phenomenal - this has got to be the hottest art exhibition of the year in NYC.

I'm so proud to have my art included in this show.  For anybody who likes good drawing, it's a must-see exhibition.  It will blow your mind.

I'll be there with Peter DeSeve for the opening reception on Friday, June 6.  I hope to see you all there!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Subliminal Ads

Do I have an over-imaginative mind?  Or do I have too much sex on the brain?

Or is advertising resorting to blatant sexual imagery to sell their products?

Just the other day, I passed this poster for the film "The Other Woman" on a nearby street corner.

Now, I don't know what you see in this image, but to me it looks like Cameron Diaz has a round hole cut in her dress so you can see her shaved pussy -

Now, I'm sure that the publicity team at 20th Century Fox looked at this image many times before deciding to use it in their major ad campaign.  And someone must have pointed out the sexual innuendo to them.  So my only conclusion is that they used this image as a sexual come-on to get the butts into the theater seats.

What do you think - am I crazy, or am I seeing things that aren't there?  Please write to me and let me know.


Bill Plympton