Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Welcome! Wilcommen! Bienvenue!

Welcome to the best blog of the BEST animation festival around.

If you Scroll Down, you'll see all the diary entries, drawings and links to the great animators, the events, the insanity, profanity, hilarity and downright avid entertainment that occurred over the packed 4 days of 'Projector', the biggest and best animation festival in Scotland if not the UK!

(Remember to click on the images to see them in greater detail!)
All images copyright (c) Jenny Soep 2008

Take a look Peeps - it's an eye opener!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

How we can cheat our Eyes...

And then it was Sunday...Well, it's actually 23.53, so 7 minutes to go, but flipping heck what a right journey since Tuesday! Y'know what though, it's been fantastic festival and Susie Wilson should be right proud of herself and her team. The animators/animatory types all had something really valuable to offer from the screenings, discussions, workshops and masterclasses.

Personally, highlights for me would include the following - Ed Hooks animated workshop on acting for animators, with live ‘guinea pigs’, while rediscovering Charlie Chaplin and learning about the psychology of acting. Then there was Phil Mulloy and his at times obscene, violent, repulsive, hilarious, banal and morbidly intriguing animations. Phil himself seems almost prudish in comparison!

I learned about Steve Reich's fairly irritating composed sounds. Then I watched an animation the next day in Hot Shorts 1 where I yet again got to tear my sane strings out with a Steve Reich soundtrack - load of bloody clapping - and fit inducing 'moving visuals of square painted bits'. There was actually a japanese animation 'Pika Pika' in Hot Shorts 3 with lights, dark nights and photography with similar clappy soundtrack except much more organic, palatable and human.

Masterclass: Jonathan Clements
- Japanese Animation in the Digital Age

'Jonathan Clements shows you how to budget with your film'

A warm and amusing encyclopaedic run down the different ages of digital Japanese animation, with rare footage from all the most ground breaking examples. More elaboration on the phenomena of the 'Uncanny Valley'.

Friday/Saturday Hot Shorts Screenings

The trio of Hot Shorts Screenings included quite a diverse range and visual style of shorts, but notably there was Lesley Barnes' beautiful and quirky typographic 'Herzog a

nd the Monsters' with a great soundtrack by the. A few linear narrative (easy

to understand narrative) animations with great storyline and timing was in particular the hilarious ‘Tong’, the humourous ‘Hard Boiled Chicken’, the short and funny ‘Snowtime’ and the lovely ‘The Old Old Very Old Man’ – these last 4 were from Hot Shorts 3.

Masterclass - Rocket to LA - Sharon Colman

'Ed asks Sharon where she'll be in 10 years

'Sharon Colman - Badgered '

A great interview here between Ed Hooks and Sharon Colman, a Scot's lass who's taking in the tricks of the trade in the story dept, Dreamworks, LA. Though vehemently eager to learn what will equipt her as an independant in the future, Dreamworks seems to be getting a good deal out of her for now. This was an unmissable and enlightning event for all you hardworki

ng animators about getting where you want to go, what it's like to be part of a corpo

ration, and still have ambitions for the future.

The Industry Panel

Before the ‘celebration let loose party’ there was the Industry Panel comprised of 7 professionals sitting at the front and some seated in the audience who gave their words of wisdom to all attending.
(F.Y.I. I’ve just written their names, their companies and quotes.)

Bill Plympton – ‘The buyers (at festivals) want something funny that gets a reaction from the audience…(My animations) are very straight forward, hand drawn, no dialogue – ready made for the world market…Keep the copyright (of your own animations). Violence sells, y’ know, Road Runner…Quentin Tarantino.’

Jonathan Clements, (Co-Author of The Anime Encyclopaedia: A guide to Japanese Animation since 1917) – (on getting great distribution/viewing of your animations) – ‘putting them onto a double bill and block


Hugh Welchman – Producer, BreakThru Films, Small Screen Entertainment Ltd
(On getting interest from the media after an

award) ‘Three weeks is too long – (there is) a small window to take advantage – be organised! – You have to have it all prepared and (you need to know) what you want from the publicity’

Michiel Snijders – Il Luster Productions – ‘What’s not seen is unloved’ (On creating animations with poets) ‘we were gaining the poetry audience, and they were gaining the animation audience’ with added

musings on the fact that you can get more work if your animations have an educational aspect.

Arnaud Rijken – Il Luster Productions – ‘Finance the film before you make it’ ‘If you win something – make another film quick or you’ll be forgotten’.

Abi Feijó – Ciclope Filmes/Optical Toybox – (On different ways for your animations to be viewed) ‘The Educational Market – Tomorrow’s Public’ ‘It’s a way to show a film differently … exhibitions of the artwork…books of the illustrations’

Ken Anderson – MD, Red Kite – (On submitting films to and attending festivals) ‘Annecy, one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career

– Developing relationships – networking

– important globally’ (On being an animator) ‘You need drive and enthusiasm’ (On making a proposal of your film) ‘You’re packaging your film before you’ve made it – Basically, you’re all business people, whether you’re a sole trader or working with a group’.

Hope that’s useful to any of you who couldn’t make it/forgot your note pad/none of your 4 biros were working that day. Just a few little memory jogs, and wise words.

Party Time

Friday night's Party Party in the City

Function Suite was possibly the best, most creative club night I've ever been to - tho' most of the 'animators' came and went just as quick.

The party provided an excellent array of music, visuals and entertainment courtesy of DJ Richie Biscuits and his video projectionist team, with guest VJ/animator Garry Whitton who rocked the joint projecting a combination of his animated shorts, moving visual decorations, interspersed with a whole host of offerings from dancers who took time to make little flick books and cartoons with the materials available on each table.

I’ve worked with Garry before at a few live music events, so he put up the animations he’s made of my live music drawings, plus I provided some more 'live pics' of the dancers themselves while taking care not to hog the fun from those wanting their work up on screen. You missed out, those who did not attend!

Saturday 02.02.08 just in case you felt you wanted to read some more -

Masterclass - Bill Plympton – Idiots and Angels

'Bill takes the stage '
'Bill Plympton - Plympton's Dogma '

Bill was amazing, hilarious, himself an animated character, equally business savvy and I managed to control my bodily functions when meeting him.

It was great to see his animations, all with lashings of Plympton humour, the world premiere of Hot Dog – a very rough version, but very cool to see the makings of. He talked, he walked, he drew, he joked, showed his films, gave advice, sold some merchandise, and indeed gave about 100 folks each a free drawing! He was s elling some of his originals too. I can’t wait to see Idiots and Angels when it comes out!

Workshop – Optical Toybox

'Optical Toybox - How We Can Cheat Our Eyes... '

'Optical Toybox - Judging

Bonus! Due to a cock-up with the tickets by DCA box office, The Optical Toybox was rescheduled till after Bill’s session. I thanked my lucky stars I got to see and draw both these really inspiring events. The humour, patience, talent and inspirational works of Abi Feijo and Regina Pessoa really shone through in this little taster of the rudimentary forms of animation. After trying out the variety of activities everyone was treated to a screening of Regina’s beautiful and poetic História trágica com Final Feliz / Tragic Story with Happy Ending". Afterwards prizes of their flickbooks were given to their favourite examples from each form of animation they’d been showing the participants. I think everyone really enjoyed the hands on experience of making their images come to life.

Screening: 'Persepolis'

This was the first Scottish screening for this true story of Marjane Satrapi’s life as an Iranian girl growing up during the turbulence of war and revolution. An excellent film, beautifully animated.

All images copyright (c) Jenny Soep 2008

Friday, 1 February 2008

A lack of Francis, Bill Plympton's 5 minutes, Synergies, Tensions, Horror...and Phil Mulloy

Iain in the Projection Room creating a cool calm exterior,
while 'Paprika' plays on...

Today, Thursday, began with a screening of shorts. Hot Shorts 3 to be exact, which I vetoed instead to start drawing in the Projection Room where I've gotta tell y' folks, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that would defy any idea that things don't go to plan! (Hark at me sounding all yankee! Technically though, the word yankee is used to describe those from the northern states, and really, I've no idea what accent the above paragraph has...)

ANYway...The drawing commenced amidst Iain the projectionist's and the organisers' panicky flappings (very mildly pronounced!) about the lack of a film in it's case, some Strings, and the lack of a speaker, Francis McKee. All the while, the insanity and acid trip like state of the japanese animation 'Paprika', complete with screeching giant dolls and carnival cacophony was playing in screen 2 to a hypnotised audience. The cartoon most definitely represented the inner turmoil of those aiming to make things right in the face of adversity.

Masterclass: Jayne Pilling, Nicolas Schmerkin
and a bit of Bill Plympton

Bill's penny's worth

Francis McKee's no show was dramatically reinvented into a panel of experts comprised of Nicolas Schmerkin, producer of Autour de Minuit, Jayne Pilling, founder and director of the British Animation Awards, and a shot of Bill Plympton for good measure. Since the original masterclass was going to be about 'The Tensions and Synergies' of animations made for the art gallery, and those made for the theatre/cinema, there was definitely a bounty of concepts, screenings and opinions up for the ravenous. From the creepy little animation by Al and Al 'Perpetual Motion in the Land of Milk and Honey', to the moralistic and acidic humour of 'Rabbit' by Run Wrake, interspersed with the heart thumping computer game styled 'Do you have the Shine?' by Johan Thurfjell based on Danny and his tricycle in 'The Shining', aswell as Hendrick Dusollier's horrific short 'Face', well people, it was an adrenalin fuelled event. I've never been as spooked , horrified, intrigued or irritated than I was during this session.

Jayne questioned whether some artist's efforts were 'Pretentious Rubbish', but defended the validity of their films as animations - in particular Al and Al's when Bill Plympton felt the opposite.

Overall though, the panel agreed on the fact that a lot of animation without a linear narrative or that isn't directly funny tends to get overlooked as such, while creating good debates on whether we see the viewing experience as one to be experimented with; finally suggesting that we as the viewer should have a critical mind of what is defined as art or animation and whether it matters in our quest to be entertained by this potentially enlightening medium. The whole event ended WAY too soon, with little time for Bill to fill us with many more words of wisdom than 'All my animations are hand drawn and they're all in boxes at home, and it's all for sale!'

Then there was the Masterclass of Phil Mulloy... ('Masterclass ey? Well I don't know if you're going to learn anything, because I don't actually teach...')

Phil Mulloy - They said 'It's crap!'

Phil Mulloy - 'Look Dear, What Mr Hitler has painted...'

In his words 'You just think of the funniest stupidest things...But I try to make them poignant' which to an extent does describe a little of the mad, bleak, irritating, violent - downright pornographic at times - films. 'Rough and Raw' might describe the digestability of them, 'Punk' might describe their ethos, but nothing can really prepare you for the assault on your senses that is an animation by Phil Mulloy. You might think I didn't like them. I really hated and loved them all in the same breath. I admitted to his amusement that I had been morbidly intrigued, even a bit embarressed at times. It's up to you to decide what you think.
Try 'Intolerance' for size but perhaps not as your very first taste - 'The Christies' perhaps, or as Phil generously deposited into our laps, his version of 'The Sound of Music'.

Enough said. Apart from, 'Bring me the AntiZog!'

Drawings Copyright (c) Jenny Soep 2008

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ed Hooks and Nicolas Schmerkin: Autour de Minuit

Ed Hooks - What is it - Fear?
Ed Hooks - Suspending Disbelief
(Remember, if you click on the pictures you can see them larger)

Ed Hooks - Acting for Animators - Masterclass

Drawings Copyright (c) Jenny Soep 2008

Wow, what a first day! 4 hours of fun, laughter, agony, tension, involvement, and empathy with Ed Hooks workshop 'Acting for Animators' with the final conclusion ' - 'It's not possible to go too far as long as honesty and truth are beneath it', pinpointing this particular era as being a very exciting time for Animators. The enlightening phrase 'We have a license to stare' and the proclamation of our duty as storytellers in this noble profession were encouraging. Hey, I don't know why I'm including myself in that statement; must be the wannabe animator in me. I don't believe anyone who attends these workshops will walk away uninspired without the realisation that we all have stories to tell, each with the potential to engage and entertain an audience.

What did we learn today? Empathy: to put emotion into - Sympathy: to feel emotion for - 'the audience don't want to follow something's pursuit of death, we want to watch something's pursuit to live - the moment a baby is born, it fights to live - the moment just before a person dies, they fight to live'. Well, I don't know if that's entirely true - there was a very intriguing debate over the film 'Leaving Las Vegas' starring Nicholas Cage where Ed felt it was a waste of money to invest in a film where at the beginning we're told the main character is going to drink himself to death, which he then does. What some members of the audience pointed out was among other things, that the entertainment of the film lay in the female main character's struggle to change his mind, her desire for him to pursue life.
I also agreed with these opinions that the film had a very valid raison d'etre in that the desire to end life does exist, and we as the audience want to feel we're not alone in being unable to change the minds of those in our lives who desire their own oblivion. Some excellent examples to learn class acting - Charlie Chaplin's 'Gold Rush', Marlon Brando in 'Street Car Named Desire', and references to an excellent animation 'The Iron Giant' with examples of adrenalin moments, heroes and villains.

There was some good live examples using a couple of volunteers from the audience to participate in Ed's role playing experiments. All in all, very worthwhile if you want to know how to flesh out the characters in your stories.

Masterclass with Nicolas Schmerkin, Autour de Minuit:'Flesh', hairy girls, and splicing mice...

Nicolas Schmerkin - The Terrorist...

Nicolas Schmerkin - Experimenting

Then for something completely different - Masterclass with Nicolas Schmerkin, a French producer for the company Autour de Minuit, who have produced a wide ranging group of challenging and experimental multi award winning films. From the humerous 3D animation 'Dog Days' that challenged our perceptions of commercial beauty and success, to the 'in your face' political and provocative 'Flesh', via splicing mice and chick fights, we were bombarded with treats. It was a late show, (9-11(ish)pm) but very much worth the wait.

Anyway, enough about me and my opinions of it all - if you attended the events yourself and you disagree, then post a comment. If you didn't get to go, then buy some tickets (if there's still some left!) and come along to join the debate in what's good or not, what's the worth, get educated, and be entirely entertained along the way!!

Monday, 28 January 2008

This is me drawing Susie Wilson gesticulating. Yep. Check it out.

'Jenny Soep, Projector’s ‘Festival Artist’ will be documenting proceedings in her inimitable style, during workshops and in, about and around the DCA, sketching live in her installation at Friday’s Party, then blogging the whole damn experience at

Take a look or she’ll be after you with her freshly sharpened HB.

See if you can spot her drawing you before you see her... '

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Breaking News! Hot off the Press!! Exclusive Screening of Bill Plympton's new short film 'Hot Dog'!

Exciting news people! Bill Plympton, the favourite animator of Terry Gilliam, and likened to God by Matt Groening, (creator of The Simpsons for all those who are of a glakit disposition), will not only be descending on Dundee for a most limited time only, but will be showing an exclusive screening of his eagerly anticipated new film.

Direct from the Producer Biljana Labovic's digital mouth -

'This is hot!

Bill is planning on showing a very, very rough cut of his new short film called "Hot Dog" at Projector. It's a sequel to Guard/Guide Dog. This will be an exclusive screening, first time ever in front of the audience! There will be some music, no SFX yet.'

C'mon people - what are you waiting for? Don't miss this MASSEEEF opportunity. You will be squeezing your eyeballs out with a lemon squeezer and sticking your head in a vice if you don't manage a ticket to see this guy - who could forget the advert from ALL those many many many moons ago of those sadistic malleable nobbley chaps twisted and warped by their insatiable desires for Nik-Nak crisps - my favourite advert of ALL time. I can't believe this is the same guy - he's a GENIUS! I should probably wear a nappy when I meet him...

Projector Passes - Who wants a fresh out of the box Projector Pass? Get them while they're cheap...

The Phat Controllers up at Headquarters just want to relay you a quick message over their virtual tannoy:

"We’re introducing a Festival Pass this year! You can help us speed things up by either emailing a photo of yourself to us at remembering to include your name, or by bringing along a passport sized photograph with you on the day. If these options don’t work for you then we can take your picture on the day but please make sure you arrive an hour before the session you wish to attend to allow us time to do this.

A note about Festival Passes: Pass holders must collect a ticket at the Box Office for each session they wish to attend. These will be available up to 30 mins. prior to the session. Passes must be presented to the Cinema usher on entry along with a valid ticket. A replacement Pass will cost £5. The Festival Pass also allows free entry to the Party on Friday night (from 22:30 at City Function Suite).

Only 6 days to go!"

Personally I don't think you should fall into their evil plans to buy these festival passes. It's obviously a big dastardly and diabolical covert operation to get us all used to carrying ID cards so that the secret police know who we are, where we are, what fun we're having and whether they think the party's big enough to join in or not. Because their lives are obviously very dull.