Monday, June 27, 2016

"Finding Dory"

Now that my son Lucas is almost 4, I'm introducing him to the movie theater experience - large screen, 5.1 surround sound, popcorn, coke, and sharing the space with large audiences.  Also, he loves the trailers (which should really be called "previews", since they come before the movies now, they don't "trail" after...).

The most recent screening we attended was Pixar's "Finding Dory", and one of the extras was the world premiere of the new Pixar short "Piper".  In the past, the Pixar shorts have been very imaginative and entertaining, however this one seemed to be created to test some kind of new digital technique, because there was absolutely no entertainment value in it.  Plus, the film was so photo-realistic, it could have been one of the old Disney nature documentaries.  The storytelling was nil and it felt like it was created by a robot.

Not so with "Finding Dory", a spin-off of the ever-popular "Finding Nemo", which was very fresh and entertaining.

The new film takes forever to get started - it seems like the first 30 minutes of the film are about two issues: #1 - Dory has short-term memory loss, and #2 - she wants to find her parents.  How can they waste so much time on such simple ideas?

Once it finally gets going, the characters are flat - they don't have the personality of the characters from the original film.  Two really lame characters are the whale shark and the beluga whale.  A total waste of time, why not bring back the A.A. great white sharks from the original - in fact, my son kept asking, "Where are the sharks?"

Although my son liked the film overall, I was very disappointed and felt that "it fell very far behind the original "Finding Nemo", although I hear it's making a tidal wave of money! 

Here are my scores:

"Piper": C   "Finding Dory": B-

Friday, June 24, 2016

Watch this space...

Usually, at this time of year I'd be writing my recap of the Annecy Festival, telling you all what a great time I had at one of my favorite festivals.  Sorry, not this year, I didn't have a film in that festival, but I have high hopes for "Revengeance" being able to participate next time!

But it's officially summer now, and a lot of other great things ARE going on this time of year.  First we've got the great big San Diego Comic-Con, which this year takes place July 20-24.  It's later this year than usual, my office manager tells me that it's got something to do with baseball - the convention center and Petco Park share parking garages, so the convention can only take place while the Padres are on a road trip.  Weird, huh?  That's San Diego for you.

Take it from a guy who's got THIS many conventions under his belt - and I hear that the stack of badges he has at home is even larger!  Anyway, we're not supposed to announce the details of Comic-Con until two weeks before - but I can tell you that there WILL be a "Revengeance" panel, both Jim Lujan and I will be there, we'll have much longer clips from our new "Revengeance" feature and a few cast members on hand, and I'll announce the date and time here as soon as I can.  My film "The Loneliest Stoplight" will also be playing in the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival, again, I'll announce the date and time when we get closer to the event.  Most of the time, I'll be at our usual booth, which you can find in the middle of all the madness by using this handy photo:

                                         This is the view from the mezzanine, facing north.
                      (The main entrances to the large convention floor are at the back of the photo)

After Comic-Con, I'll be in Portland, OR for a week, just to visit family and friends, and then in August, I'll be going to France for a week, to visit my wife's family.  No screenings planned on these trips (yet), for once these are genuine vacation trips! 

Also this summer, you can catch my short film "The Loneliest Stoplight" playing at a bunch of film festivals, like these:

L'Hybride / Cine-Barbecue, Lille, France, June 24-25
Animator Festival, Poznan, Poland, July 10-16
Fantasia Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 14-August 2
Drunken Film Festival, various pubs around the U.K., July 25-30
Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, MI, July 26-31
KloosterKino / Bouwlab, Nijmegen, Netherlands, August 20
World Festival of Animated Film, Varna, Bulgaria, September 7-11

Please check the festivals' web-pages for exact screening dates and times.  Get yourself out to a comic-con or a film festival near you and start having a good time!  Enjoy the summer, everyone!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, June 20, 2016

End of "Revengeance" production

I'm now in the middle of a post-partum depression.  I've been working on "Revengeance" now for almost three years, and today I handed in the final drawings for the film, and I'm feeling depressed - because the project was so much fun to work on and it was so intensive, there's an emptiness now when I don't have to get up at 5:30 am and draw all day.  I feel like my baby is out of my hands and my life is somewhat meaningless.

So far, the response from the people who've seen "Revengeance" (the rough cut) has been phenomenal.  I don't want to get TOO excited, but it looks like this may be one of my best productions. 

Now comes the more difficult apart, finding a buyer or distributor for the film.  And that entails doing a marketing campaign (posters, trailers, post cards and press kits) and trying to get the film into as many important festivals as possible.  Festivals are where hungry buyers and press people are looking for the next hit. 

Also, Jim Lujan and I will be at San Diego Comic-Con with a booth and panel to promote the film, we'll show some longer clips this time, and we'll have a few cast members on hand to talk about doing the voices.  Stay tuned for more details. 

I'll also keep you updated on the progress of our journey to get "Revengeance" to as many outlets as possible. 

But as for my post-partum depression - I think I have a new "bun in the oven", I've just started work on my latest "Guard Dog" short, "Cop Dog", where our Oscar-nominated hero works at an airport, sniffing for drugs hidden in luggage.  You just know that's not going to end pretty. 

Thanks for your interest -

Bill Plympton

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Revengeance" wrap party!

OK, we may not be completely finished with production on "Revengeance", there are still some minor tweaks to be made to the film here and there, but we finished a submission cut for entering festivals, so we got as many of the interns and staff members together as we could, and had a wrap party over at the Frying Pan.

If you've never been to the Frying Pan, it's a bar on a railroad barge, next to a historic Coast Guard lightship, over on Pier 66 on the west side of Manhattan.  Maybe it's not the best place to go for drinks if you're vulnerable to seasickness, but it's a fun place and you just can't beat the view of the Hudson River. 

We went there on a Monday, so it wouldn't be as crowded as, say, a Friday or a Saturday.  They let us sit up on the raised platform, which made it a bit of a challenge to climb the stairs with drinks.  We filled up a few tables with people and got ourselves some beers and food.

Wow, what a turnout!  I think we had about three sets of interns show up, so for some people it was their first chance to meet nearly everyone else who worked on the film!  I had to leave at some point and take Lucas home, but I heard that when my crew got off the boat, they hung out in the grass by the river and watched the sun set, I guess the evening was so much fun that nobody wanted it to end!

My thanks to the Frying Pan for hosting our wrap party, and to everyone who came out to have a few drinks!  We'll make another reservation there when we finish the next film!

--Bill Plympton

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Hitler's Folly" premiere

Whew, it's over!  And I survived!  I'm writing this on the day after my world premiere of "Hitler's Folly" at the prestigious SVA Theatre.  And the reaction was terrific - no assaults, or verbal abuse, only laughter and applause.

In my early career as an illustrator and cartoonist, I loved to push the limits of good taste, and try to shock people.  I found that my cartoons were much more effective if they were scandalous.  At the same time, I was working for National Lampoon and that was their in-house style, to shock and disturb.  In fact, they once published a book of cartoons called "Hitler's Favorite Cartoons".

I loved their style of humor - after all, I grew up enjoying Charles Addams' cartoons, they were always irreverent, too.

So, when I got the idea for "Hitler's Folly", a mockumentary about an alternate world, where Hitler got accepted into the art academy and ends up being a very successful cartoonist, I thought, "This is perfect for me!"  A few years ago, I made a very popular short film called "Santa, the Fascist Years", which took a much-loved character, Santa Claus, and turned him into an evil dictator.

For "Hitler's Folly", I switched the roles and had an evil dictator become a kind, lovable artist.  I find a lot of humor in taking something iconic and turning it into its opposite.  It's a form of ironic humor.

But a few people who saw the rough cut of "Hitler's Folly" expressed fears that my career would be over and the Jewish Defense League would rough me up at the screening.  So I didn't know what to expect as the movie-goers filed into the SVA Theatre to watch the world premiere.

                                        Before the screening, with the cast of "Hitler's Folly"

                                            Dana Ashbrook (from "Twin Peaks") as Josh

                                          Michael Sullivan ("Greaser's Palace" as Michael

                                                      Nate Steinwachs as Adolf Hitler

As they entered the auditorium, I wondered to myself which of these people are "politically correct", or have no sense of humor and might be out to get me.  Maybe one of them is wearing an explosive vest or something, it's not like I can afford bomb-sniffing dogs or metal detectors at the door.  After all, three of my artists refused to work on my Hitler film and preferred to resign from the studio instead.

As I stood on the stage and introduced the stars of the film, I felt a little more comfortable from the polite applause.  Also, it helped that we had a live version of the cartoon character, Downy Duck, milling around the cinema and on stage, dancing and mugging for people.  He added an air of absurdity and fantasy to the evening.

As the film began and I heard the audience's laughter, I could finally relax and enjoy the show.  Afterward I had a lot of people approach me and tell me how much they loved the film, and how they were going to tell all of their friends about it, so they can watch it streaming on

                                                          On stage with Dana Ashbrook

                                           On stage with Hitler's "creation", Downy Duck

I want to thank the staff and crew at the SVA Theatre for a great job, and also Emma Griffiths and John Holderried for their help in putting this wonderful event together.

Please check out my film "Hitler's Folly" on my web-site,

And my thanks to Adam Rackoff for taking these great photos!


Bill Plympton

Friday, June 3, 2016


VIS stands for Vienna Independent Shorts - it's a film festival that's been around for about 13 years.

Apparently, last year David OReilly and Don Hertzfeldt appeared there and sang my praises - for whatever reason, I don't know.  In any case, the Austrian Film Museum invited me to come this year and do a retrospective screening and a master class.  I'd heard great things about Vienna, and thought it would be fun to visit.  So here I am, I'm writing this while on an AirBerlin flight returning from my 4-day visit to VIS.

They put me up in a fancy, yet wackily-hip hotel called 25 Hours.  The festival opened with a celebration of my birthday on stage, after screening my latest "Simpsons" couch gag.  I was caught by surprise, partly because my birthday was a month ago, and also because they gave me a cake with a cow on it, and it was the cow from my film "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger", along with two large roman candles.

My three shows were big successes, because I had packed-house audiences and sustained applause throughout - this is what I live for.

But also, I was able to check out the robust cultural scene in Vienna.  The Belvedere Museum, which looks a lot like Versailles, had a couple of famous Gustav Klimt paintings.  Then I visited the Leopold Museum, which contains the largest collection of Egon Schiele artwork, and I must admit that right now I'm a freak for Egon, especially his drawings.  They're so evocative and distorted, yet are anatomically correct.  I'm considering using his drawing style for my next feature film.

Other highlights were the Austrian Congress building, where Hitler once gave a speech from a balcony where he claimed the conquest of Austria, in front of thousands of adoring Viennese fans.  And then, of course, the Austrian Academy of Art, which rejected Hitler's portfolio when he applied for enrollment to art school, which subsequently led to him trying to dominate the world.

Just imagine, if the school had accepted his application for enrollment - in fact, that's the premise of my new mockumentary, "Hitler's Folly", where you can see that alternate reality explored.  It's just released, you can see it streaming on my new web-site at

But to get back to VIS - it's a vibrant shorts festival that concentrates on abstract and avant-garde shorts (I went through that phase in college).  That's why everyone who works for the festival is young or college-age, and it gives the festival a wonderful, free-form spirit, which I loved.  I give the VIS Festival a B+

Be sure to enter your short films there, it's a great experience.

And my thanks to the Austrian Film Museum for arranging my appearance, and for the great photos!

--Bill Plympton