Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I wonder why my titles have gone?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The winners

It was a thrill to see two British animators John Paul Harney and Joanna Quinn take no less than four of the prizes at Zagreb yesterday. Many congratulations to two splendid people. I am catching up on some sleep now and will pursue that train of thought when refreshed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The last day of the festival.

We enjoyed a grand party last night and I met some animation heroes from around the world. The only problem was that the nibbles were there one minute and gone the next, there is a hungry Columbian around named Andreas. Today Shelly, John Paul and I want to extend our search for food to the Northern half of the town and try to buy something that isn't Calamari. Please I beg of you. But for now, a fantastic Oscar Fischinger programme beckons, I will have something to say about that.

I also want to say that I wasn't actually hit by a tram Bec, just nervous about it happening.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The great thing about being here is that the festival has taken care to see that we dont have anything to worry about. We have pretend money to spend in restaurants, all the films are in one venue and there is a water machine in the foyer. But of course I have been worried about a couple of things. One is being struck in the small of the back by a tram and the other was Greig Lawson who is staying at the Dubrovnik Hotel on the third floor. He hadn't been seen since the first night when he had seemed very excited to be here. Thankfully I can announce that he turned up yesterday, he looked a bit sweaty but alive.

I have just finished my P D James, I can't imagine there will be time to read the other 4 books that I borrowed from the library.
Day 3, 72 films, 72 Pivo beers.
Yesterday I went to the Botanical Gardens and during a stroll in the shade, I saw this frog. What a find!

My film has been screened in the Grand Competition Programme, I was very nervous, the film theatre is enormous, similar to the Royal Festival Hall in London, and it seems to be able to accommodate the festival visitors, every one. The print was a bit jumpy for the 1st 30 seconds and the speakers added a slight distortion to the narration (on all the films) In addition, the crowd had been polite but not particularly exitable so I was really pleased to hear a little shout with the applause after Sawney Beane. The whole screening was warmly received, my personal favourite, Apple Pie by Isabelle Favez, a cat and dog change the course of love in a small town. You'd think that there were already a hundred animated films that could be desribed that way but I'd boldly suggest that this one could top the lot. It was immpecably crafted and culminated in a hunter tripping over a log and shooting his own dog stone dead. Beautiful.
The other films I particularly appreciated were The Corridor by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, Snip by Steven Woloshen and the jolly Carnivore Reflux by The People's Republic of Animation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Competition films for Children and Student Films Competition 1

The children's programme started with a Little Matchgirl, sickly in every way and finished equally queasy with Dentist by Signe Baumane, a Latvian/US co-production, a violent film with a homoerotic ending, not an obvious choice for a younger audience. In between I enjoyed Greedy Pig by Mathieu Labaye and 19 children, beautifully lit and shot, I wonder how he kept their sticky hands off that lovely snake. The other films of note came from the Pilot Big Animation Studio, I've not heard of the studio before, but it seems like I'm alone in that. About Ram and Goat by Natalya Berezovaya was perfect and perfectly silly and Zlydni by Stepan Koval a good story about malevolent spirits in which the story and technique were well matched.

The programme of student films was pretty good. Death by Heart by Malin Erixon had a super and unexpected ending that brought tears to the eyes. The Possum by Chris Choy had great timing and characterisation. I didn't know that possums liked apples so much. Smile by Noam Abta was a mixed CG/live action that looked interesting (in 2006) but perhaps he ran out of time. The student programme was varied and of a high quality, only one of the films felt like a demo of technical flair that had been built into a too long short.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I can tell you how our time passes here. We muster and chat, and find somewhere to drink and chat and watch animated films and chat about them and drink some wine. It's not a holiday though, it's very tiring.

Everyone always says Croatia is lovely and it certainly is, Zagreb is beautiful, I hope we'll get some sightseeing done, thought it's hot.

This is the lovely Shelly Wain, director of The Cummerbund and The Love Nest, which won many awards. Here she is in Hotel Dora. There will be some thoughts on the films we have seen, I make no promises but perhaps tommorrow.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The way I make animated films

I have been making animations since 1998 when I made The Last Regret of The Grim Reaper at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. I made this film in a three week hurry, and not having animated much before, I drew upon my printmaking background and used a story I had written as an artist's book in 1996. I used tusche which is a drawing fluid used for stone lithography and printmaking paper. I recorded each frame whilst it was wet and then mopped it up before it dried and put the next frame down. It left a trace upon the page that suited the story of The Grim Reaper dancing everyone on earth to death.

My next two films, The Emperor (2001) (pictured here) and The Witches (2002) were made with the same technique but using watercolour. For The True Story of Sawney Beane (2005) I animated with charcoal on paper with a watercolour background. I tried out charcoal on this film because I wanted to get very close to the characters and draw Betty Beane's wrinkly face. I was very pleased with the result, the film is presently showing at film festivals.

For The Old, Old, Very Old Man, I am using blue ink on white tile. I had been researching Charles I at the V & A and Museum of London and came across many depictions of him on delftware, mostly created following his execution. On these commemorative plates and mugs, his Royal Highness is painted carefully but with the economy of a craftsman making many of the same image. In using a tile, there is no trace left to guide the next frame, so I use the onion skinning tool on Premiere in which the previous frame is visible on the monitor of my computer. Here is a frame of The Old Man in The King's bed prior to his last gasp.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My bathroom studio

I have made an animation studio in our bathroom, luckily we have got another one for bathing. It makes a very handy studio. My set-up is of the basic variety, I have a good rostrum and lights kindly donated by Tim Olden. I use an old video camera and my ibook G4 laptop. I capture and edit using Premiere. It all works well for a project of this size, though I expect I will need to invest in a good grade. For a larger film, in budget and length, I would to capture the frames with a digital stills camera and upgrade my computer to run After Effects and Final Cut Pro.

The Old Man

The Old, Old, Very Old Man is based on a true story. Thomas Parr lived from 1483-1635 and was presented to Charles I by Thomas, Earl of Arundel when he was 152 years old. He died following the excitment and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
The title of the film comes from a poem with the same name written by John Taylor (1580-1654), who heard about Thomas Parr and created a pamphlet, of which there are two copies of in the British Library.

I'd been reading about John Taylor the water poet, since I came across him in Iain Sinclair's book 'Lights out for the Territory'. It seems he was full of words and thoughts that he didn't hesitate to share by producing pamphlets and reciting his long works whilst ferrying people across the Thames. I don't think his poems are up to scrutiny but provide a lively account of the times. I was immediately taken by his account of the Thomas Parr and felt I could make something of it, by way of another tribute to the elderly.

I submitted a script to the Hackney and Tower Hamlets Film fund in March and they agreed to support the project by giving me half the funding and the condition that I find a producer based in Tower Hamlets. I was lucky to find Kathrein Guenther and we are busily trying to think of ways to raise some extra money.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I'm excited to announce that I'm off to Animafest in Zagreb on Monday to swan around with other animators for a whole week. I've been to the library and borrowed five books because I've got a five hour wait in Vienna and because I'm a mother with some time. I hope I will have some lucid thoughts that I can post here.

The dog ate my storyboard

I've been working on a new film called The Old, Old, Very Old Man for two months, I thought starting a blog would shame me into doing a storyboard.