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Animated shorts Seamus Murphy & PJ Harvey Allan Niblo
Short Cuts Super Shorts International Film Festival Official Magazine
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Magazine Publisher & Editor Chris Patmore Art Director/Designer Chris Patmore www.filmandfestivals.com Cover Picture PJ Harvey by Seamus Murphy from 12 Short Films for PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake
Super Shorts International Film Festival Organisers Edward L. Dark Ismar Badzic
06 03 04
Welcome Reel People Upcoming talent
Introduction to 12 short films Photographer Seamus Murphy writes about the films he made for PJ Harvey’s album Let England Shake, showing on Super Shorts Opening Night.
08 1o 12
The Judges Festival schedule Allan Niblo Co-founder of Vertigo FIlms talks about the importance of short films.
The short of it Pooja Pottenkullam does a round up of some of the UK’s independent short film animators
Radar Music Caroline Bottomley describes what they do
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welcome to a new beginning Super Shorts International Film Festival is back
Although we recommend you come and see the
for its ninth instalment, and it’s bigger than ever!
films in all their glory on the silver screen, our main sponsor, Dailymotion, is streaming every film
As filmmakers, we know just how much passion
on their website (www.dailymotion.com), with the
and dedication is put into a short film and we
most-viewed film over the course of the festival
marvel at how far budgets are stretched. As film
winning our Audience Choice Award as well as
fans, we appreciate the talent it takes to move an
having a two-day feature spot on the Dailymotion
audience in such a limited time and we seek to
home page. So if you can’t make it to the show in
reward the artists accordingly. The medium of
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short film is usually a first step on the journey
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and support these talented filmmakers in order to help them achieve their aspirations.
We’ve had a wonderful time organising the festival, working hard to get every film the exposure it
This year, we’re taking Super Shorts to a whole
deserves. We hope you enjoy the outcome as much
new level. We’ve utilised an entirely paperless
as we’ve enjoyed the planning.
submissions process to reduce our carbon footprint and take the first steps to being an eco-friendly
Sit back and get ready to enjoy some Super Shorts.
film festival. We’ve had the faith and backing of some major names in the media and independent
Edward L. Dark and Ismar Badzic
arts world to help us move towards establishing
ourselves as one of the top UK film festivals. We’ve attracted a fabulous crop of beautifully-crafted
For all the latest festival news and media, connect
films, which will be judged by our well-known jury,
with us online at:
and we’ve relocated to the newly opened and
wonderfully glamorous Hackney Picturehouse to
showcase the films in a worthy home.
reel people By Chris Patmore
Jordan Cushing Cinematographer
Born and raised in Canada, Jordan, like so many boys, discovered his fascination for movies with Star Wars and other sci-fi and adventure films, but it was a magazine that decided his future. “In 1979 I got my first copy of American Cinematographer and learned all about the making of The Muppet Movie. My fate was sealed.” Before the advent of affordable domestic video
Shooting From the Cellar on a Canon 5D
cameras, Super-8 was the format of choice for budding filmmakers and Jordan used it to shoot his short in the spring of 1985, and a decade later he was using it again. “I was reintroduced to Super-8 while attending Toronto’s York University, where I completed an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production in 1995”, he said. After a brief stint teaching film production in Singapore, he returned to Canada began working with I.A.T.S.E. International Cinematographers Guild, first as an Assistant and later an Electronic Cameraman. In 2007 he moved to London. To date Jordan has shot five feature films including Canadian indie superhero movie Sidekick; British horror movies 13 HRS and S.N.U.B!; and romantic comedy No Ordinary Trifle. He has also worked on dozens of award-winning shorts that have screened at film festivals worldwide, as well as staples such music videos and commercials. Such a diverse catalogue of films inevitably leads to shooting on many different formats. “I have worked with virtually all 35mm and 16mm motion picture cameras and the full range of digital video cameras from Red One to HD Cam to MiniDV.” Jordan recently delved into the world DSLRs when he shot From the Cellar, one of the finalists in the 2010 Virgin Media Shorts competition. Clips from Jordan’s films can be found on his website. www.jordancushing.com
Composer, Make-up Artist, Filmmaker Helen was born and raised in Brighton, England, apart from a short childhood sojourn in New Zealand. She had a strong desire to work on films whilst finishing school, and began working as a make-up artist on fashions shows, shorts, then indie feature films such as Savage Witches and Mainline Run. Musically, Helen started learning the piano as a child, taking private classical piano and singing lessons, along with vocal training at BIMM, studying music at University of London Goldsmiths College, and studying music for film. Keen to learn all aspects of filmmaking she has had training from the BBC Academy and Raindance Film School as well as on-the-job experience in the local film industry. She has recently gained recognition as a film composer with scores for short films and feature documentary Once I was a Champion, which had its world premiere at LA Film Festival this year. Helen still lives in Brighton and is working on her own filmmaking project. www.helenpatience.com
Actor – Writer – Filmmaker Tim is probably best known for the award-winning comedy short films he wrote and made with director Ben Gregor and their Film Club production company. Ant Muzak (2002), Blake’s Junction 7 (2004) and World of Wrestling (2007), which all featured Tim performing alongside some of the UK’s top comedy actors including Mackenzie Crook, Kris Marshall, Johnny Vegas, Mark Heap and Martin Freeman. Although his work on screen has bought him the most recognition, he comes from a stage background. He graduated in 1994 with a BA (Hons) in theatre, followed by an MA (Hons) in play writing studies. Even before graduation his play Marilyn Meets Bobby and Johnny won him the 1992/93 National Student Playwright of the Year award. Another five plays, which appeared in theatres in London and around the UK, came after. As an actor, Tim has a long list of credits covering stage, film and television, including the role of Toby C in Paul Whitehouse’s BAFTA-nominated BBC series Happiness, amongst many others. His recent big screen roles have included Control, the BAFTA-winning short September, Shifty, Unmade Beds, and Matthew Vaughn’s hit action comedy, Kick-Ass.
Photo by Pank Sethi
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He also appeared in the lead role of his directorial debut English Language (With English Subtitles), a short, offbeat romantic comedy that premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2007, and went on to screen at over 35 film festivals worldwide, collecting four awards along the way. This was followed by the 15-second short Slaphappy, which won Best Film at the 15 Second Film Festival in 2008. Tim’s documentary Way of the Morris, about the often-ridiculed English cultural curio that is Morris dancing premiered at SXSW in March, and subsequently screened at festivals around the world with great success, as well as on UK television. It is out now on DVD.
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Introduction to By Seamus Murphy
I made these short films to accompany the twelve songs on PJ Harvey’s album Let England Shake. She had seen my exhibition and book of photographs A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan and was curious to see if we could work together. The original idea was to make one or a couple of films and just see how it went. I never wanted to interpret the album, but to capture something of its mood and force. I wanted to look at the enigma of England, its island mentality and complicated relationship with its past. Contemporary England springs from a history of colonial adventures, military ambitions, industrial prowess and a rigid hierarchy. Now it is also defined by its waning power and role in modern geopolitics. And it can be a gratifyingly odd place. To open myself up to a country I live in, but rarely get to shoot, I decided to go on a road journey. I wanted to approach England as I would a foreign country. With little equipment, I used available light and sought out
real-life situations. Apart from appearances by people reciting the lyrics and the Punch and Judy segments on the Let England Shake track, everything is unscripted and unstaged. I made the films in the camera, avoiding post production effects. The first batch of films was The Words That Maketh Murder, The Last Living Rose and The Glorious Land. A second trip produced more material and I was able to draw from and expand on both journeys for the remaining nine films. Filming a road trip on your own becomes like a diary, so you end talking to yourself with the camera. It can make the footage more intimate and personal, as I discovered on other journeys through America and Russia. You feel loneliness all the more, and random encounters have a stronger resonance. I didn’t set out to deliver messages, though something must sneak through as I film a place, scene or person in a particular way. I am showing what I saw, how I saw it and maybe sometimes how I would like it to be.
12 Short Films Photographer Seamus Murphy grew up in Ireland and lives in London. For over two decades, he has photographed extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Murphy’s work has been published widely, in The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly, Granta, Paris Match, Le Monde, Stern, Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and has won seven World Press Photo Awards.
Seeing his book and exhibition on Afghanistan, musician P.J. Harvey was prompted to approach Murphy to make a series of films to accompany her album, Let England Shake.
Above all, his subject is the human being. Philip Jones Griffiths, photographer and author of Vietnam Inc. described Murphy as, “ a poet with a camera”. Murphy’s photography from Afghanistan, which he began in 1994, chronicles the life of the Afghan people over thirteen tumultuous years and won him the World Understanding Award (POYi). This work has been published as a book, A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan (Saqi Books, 2008) and has been exhibited internationally. He continues to travel to and document the country.
the judges Alex Zane A talented radio broadcaster, Alex began working at London radio station Xfm in 2002, and hosted the station’s prestigious breakfast show for two years. Alex currently hosts Channel 4’s Rude Tube and Alex Zane’s Guest List on Sky Movies. He is also the regular film reviewer for The Sun. Alex is a big movie fan, and in 2004, he featured in Dawn of the Dead as a zombie whilst reporting from the set for MTV. With a wealth of film-related jobs as a broadcaster, Alex will be right at home as judge for a film festival. “I am very excited to be involved in this year’s Super Shorts International Film Festival and looking forward to getting started watching the films.”
Philip Bloom Philip Bloom is a British filmmaker and influential online presence in the world of independent film. He is best known for his work with DSLR cameras and his vast array of workshops that take place around the world. He is affiliated with Zacuto and Kessler cranes and has worked with filmmakers such as George Lucas. “It is an honour to be asked to judge the Super Shorts International Film Festival. I can’t wait to see what people come up with.”
Submit now for ASff 2012 www.asff.co.uk 8
Andrew Scott Andrew Scott is an Irish film, television and stage actor. He received the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs production of A Girl in a Car with a Man and an IFTA award for the film Dead Bodies. Andrew also starred in ‘the biggest short film of all time’ Chasing Cotards, shot specifically for IMAX Presentation. Andrew’s notable television roles have included Paul McCartney in the BBC television drama Lennon Naked and arch-villain Moriarty in Sherlock. “Good luck to all filmmakers. I’m delighted to be involved with Super Shorts 2011”
James Clarke James Clarke is an author of books about cinema as well as a film and video producer. He wrote the original idea for the ‘biggest short film of all time’ Chasing Cotards and is a BAFTA shortlist producer for the short film Space Dance. “Being invited to contribute to Super Shorts is a real pleasure. It’s great to be able to celebrate the short film format and to continue encouraging people to tell their stories and realise their dreams.”
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festival schedule Friday 9 December, 22:00 – 24:00
Sunday 11 December, 16:00 – 18:00
OPENING NIGHT FILM
BEST DRAMA Berlinoises: The Battle of Berlin, 1945. While plundering a civilian building, a squad of four Russian soldiers, led by an exhausted Sergeant, encounter two German girls. To Rest in Peace: Occupied Kuwait, 1990. Two dead bodies lie in the street. Day after day, everyone passes them by, afraid to stop. Except one man. Inspired by true events.
A special presentation of the short films made for PJ Harvey’s Mercury Award-winning album Let England Shake. Directed by award-winning photographer, Seamus Murphy, the film is comprised of 12 individual short films that accompany each track of the album.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY The Half-Light: A lonely man searches for a contraband tungsten bulb to bring light back into his darkened world. Seaweed: Set in the Swedish archipelago, Seaweed tells the story of an adolescent girl’s sudden confrontation with her biggest phobia: seaweed. Chasse à l’âne (In Search of a Donkey): Slaughtering a donkey for a gastronomic delight is be more complicated than expected. Il Rumore della Neve (The Noise of Snow): Today’s world is contaminated by the daily hustle and bustle, and stress is generated by small, imperceptible noises that surround us. The resulting distraction may make us lose sight of the truly important things in life.
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Somebody’s Daughter: Molly, a young hitchhiker, gets a lift with an older man. His efforts to prolong their journey begin to unnerve her. What are his intentions? Lifetripper: Stan, a single dad, is having a midlife crisis. His daily bus trip to work proves to be a catalyst for change as the loquacious Stan develops a comedy routine.
BEST MUSIC The Save: A young pitcher stands alone on the mound facing. With his team only up by one, and the crowd roaring in disapproval, the pitcher stares at an empty seat… This is David Conrad: During his first latenight show on hospital radio, DJ David Conrad discovers a CD hidden in the station’s music library that has unsettling consequences. Birdboy: A terrible industrial accident changes Dinky’s life forever. Now her fate may ride on the wings of her eccentric friend Birdboy, an introverted kid who hides in the forest. The Equinox: Edward, who is secretly in love with Margaret, his young, sexy neighbour, gets a bizarre and unexpected opportunity to deal with his midlife crisis.
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Tuesday 13 December, 18:30 – 20:30
Sunday 18 December, 16:00 – 18:00
Ray: A Life Underwater: Treasure, women and adventure; this affectionate short film goes deep under the sea to unlock the secret to a long and happy life.
Dream Cleaners: Artie and Rex, professional Dream Cleaners, get into trouble when their truck malfunctions. Now the dreams of their target, a young kid, start spilling into reality.
Manuel de los Santos: One of sport’s most inspirational figures. The young Dominican baseball player was planning to turn pro when a motorcycle accident changed his life forever.
eXtinction: An environmental art short that combines powerful storytelling and stirring imagery to reveal the most pressing environmental issues that are happening now.
Mijo (My Son): An evocative portrayal of a mother and child’s intimate relationship in the midst of life-altering medical events.
Slash-in-the-Box: A man brings home a creepy, antique jack-in-the-box to show his wife, but the thing inside is NOT a toy! Pop Goes The Evil...
Capicua: When you depend on the others.
The Extraordinary Life of Rocky: Rocky grows up surrounded by death: everyone around him dies in a freak accident and each time he’s at the centre of it all.
Santa Land: Retired couple Ray and Marlene Kraatz, the official Santa and Mrs. Claus of Zephyrhills, Florida, spend their final chapter of life amongst a quirky community of Santas.
BEST DIRECTOR O-Ring: After hitting a man with his car in the middle of a snow-covered countryside, a young actor has to improvise to escape from punishment.
BEST COMEDY Orrible: After school, eight-year-old Steve is escorted home by Luke, a teenaged thug of appalling repute. His lurid tale of social and sexual deviance punctuates their stroll.
Knock Knock: A stranger, who has apparently been attacked, pays a late-night visit, desperate for help. He is eager to get inside to hide from his pursuer, but can he be trusted?
Porn Masala: An amateur actor snags the lead role in Singapore’s first ‘art-house porno’, only to discover that the part requires him to dig far deeper than he ever expected.
Virgin Eyes: In an idyllic setting, fifteenyear-old Andrea’s love for her father is turned around forever.
Keep it Kosher: A glance at confusion over tradition, dogma and bacon. Keeping it Kosher isn’t easy when a catering company makes the biggest mistake of their professional lives. Petra: What if a 70-year-old lady truly believes that she is 21 years old?
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Sunny Boy: Danny and his overprotective dad live in a world of darkness due to his rare skin condition. When he receives important news, he decides to take control of his life. The Maiden and The Princess: Little Emmy kisses a girl in the playground and is left feeling isolated. The Grand High Council of Fairy Tale Rules and Standards sends her a hetero-normative fairytale to set her down the ‘right’ path.
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Allan Niblo Allan Niblo is one of the founders of indie film production and distribution company Vertigo Films, which has a reputation for supporting first-time directors whose films have met with both critical and box-office success as well as winning prestigious awards. Amongst these are Paul Andrew Williams, Steve McQueen, Rupert Wyatt and Gareth Edwards. It is through being a judge on short film competitions, such as Short Stories (sponsored by Relentless Energy Drinks) and SCI-FI-LONDON’s 48 Hour Film Challenge (this year’s winners won a feature development deal with Vertigo) that Allan is finding the next wave of UK indie talent.
What do see as the role of the producer, as there are many interpretations of what they do?
There’s many different ways a producer can operate, right from an all-encompassing producer who comes up with the concepts, finds the money, finds the director, finds the talent and sees it all the way through to the DVD and even the TV release, and is involved in every single step of the way and every part of the decisionmaking process. Or you can have a producer who brings a bit of financing to the table and is more hands-off, but they are both credited as a producer. Which of these do you see your self as?
A bit of both, to be honest. I’m involved in films as a producer that will just bring a certain element, and work with co-producers. On other films, like Monsters, I was there from the very start, all the way through to the release of the movie, and still working on the extended version of that film now. That’s a passion project that is taken all the way. Vertigo do both production and distribution. Do you consider that a good way to work, having control from inception to distribution?
Absolutely. It’s really, really, really hard making a film, but it’s ten times harder to get it into cinemas, and lots of good films don’t get the releases they deserve, and that’s a killer when you’ve made a film that people love. It was really touch and go with Human Traffic whether it was going to get a cinema release or not. We were down to the final distributor who wanted it, and was only going to release it on ten prints. Once it started screening, the kids started loving the movie, and the cinemas loved it, then the journalists loved it and it was eventually released on 300 prints. It’s a really painful part of the process, so the more you can control it and own it, the better chance you’ve got of being happy with the result.
When you looking at a new project do you consider it for its artistic merits or its commercial potential, or a bit of both?
It’s actually both. The two recent extremes are Street Dance, which is a popcorn, multiplex movie that was a worldwide teen hit, then there was Ajami, which is a real art-house film, nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. So we’ll look at both extremes. My background’s more art-house cinema than mainstream, but in order to make art-house films you need the finance. Hopefully we can do both, which is our ambition. How do you go about finding new talent to produce? Do you find short film contests a good place to start?
It’s invaluable. The Relentless Short Stories, SCI-FILONDON’s 48 Hour Film Challenge and film schools: short films are the way to get noticed. You get quite a lot of directors that are coming through Eastenders, and you can’t tell if they’re a good director or not, if they’ve got a vision or a voice, because it’s not really directing, as such. A short film can, like in the case of Gareth Edwards, show that he’s got a real vision and a real voice, and that will inspire you to want to make a film with them. Now he’s directing Godzilla and is one of the hottest young talents in Hollywood. It must make you feel proud?
It does. We’ve worked with a few people like that. We did a film called The Escapist, and his next film was The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He went from a little British film to getting noticed on a global scale. It just shows you it’s possible. There’s a huge resurgence in feature docs, both long and short, at the moment. Do Vertigo produce feature docs as well?
We’ve done four or five documentaries. We distributed The Cove, which won Best Documentary Oscar last
year. We did the Joe Strummer film, The Future is Unwritten. We did In the Shadow of the Moon, which won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2007. That is as distributor. What about as producer?
If the right project came up we’d do it. In fact, we’re looking at a couple of documentary feature projects at the moment. It would be for cinema, not for television. We would definitely look at a cinematic documentary. Do you think this increase interest in docs is down to the fact that a lot of the stuff coming out of Hollywood is dross, and people want to see interesting stories?
Absolutely, and hopefully that can bleed into dramas. I’d love to capture some of the spirit of documentaries into a feature. For example, the crowd-surfing clip from The Pit [one of the Short Stories films]; I’d love to start a film with that, as a character in a drama. I love crowd surfing and that would be a unique start, to me. I look for elements where you can see the person’s voice and the spirit or the passion you live your life with. Some of these elements you can bring into dramas. It’s interesting to look at documentaries from that perspective.
What other types of projects would you like to work on?
As a company we are commercially ambitious. I would love to make everything from Notting Hill to Control to Kick Ass. There’s a lot of subject matter we want to get our teeth into.
Scoot Mc NaNairy and Whitney Able in Gareth Edwards’ award-winning feature debut Monsters produced by Vertigo Films
Is the British independent film scene strong enough at the moment?
It’s never been better. It’s literally a vintage period at the moment and we’re getting the balance between commercialism and artistic content right.
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the short of it By Pooja Pottenkulam
In the 1990s, short independent animation films from the UK, most of which were funded by Channel 4, were winning Academy Awards. At the same time, Animation Studies as a field of study was also beginning to grow; critics and theorists now had this considerable body of work that could exemplify the auteur theory far better than live action ever had or would be capable of.
However, in the last couple of years, Channel 4 has gradually stopped all its funding schemes. As an animation filmmaker, I wanted to look at the current situation in its entirety: Who are current animation auteurs? How do they work? What are their films like and where are these films screened? How is animation curated? What kind of an impact has the lack of funding meant to the profession? Where is the profession headed? What sort of a support structure does the profession have? With all of these questions ahead of me, I realised I had set myself a tough task in writing and defining the state of contemporary animation. I decided, instead, to interview several leading practitioners within the field in order to be able to present as wide a picture as possible.
Pooja Pottenkulam is a London-based animation filmmaker. www.poojapottenkulam.com
Here are the responses of 12 representatives from a selection of auteurs in the world of independent animation. They speak about what led them to the field, about their work, process, funding and all of what it takes to be part of the profession.
“My mum effectively introduced me to the idea of a ‘director’ because she directed amateur theatre productions, and I became aware that the term ‘director’ surfaced in many art forms. When I started reading about film and animation, I discovered the term ‘auteur’. This corresponded to my understanding of ‘author’ because I was already a literature glutton, and later did a MLit and PhD in studies of the relationship between D.H.Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. Simply, I fancied the idea of being a ‘director’ and ‘author’ myself, and ended up writing and directing for theatre, then did similar work in radio and television. Alongside all this, I taught courses about animation because I loved animated films. There was no distance between thinking about my mum directing plays, Lawrence and Woolf being literary authors, Bergman and Leone (my first great film heroes) being film directors, and everyone from Svankmajer to Park to Reiniger being the ‘auteurs’ I loved in animation. When I started writing about animation, it was necessary to champion it as an art form in its own right, and to fight for its recognition in the Academy, and though I was much criticised for putting McLaren, Norstein, Leaf, Jones, Miyazaki and others in the same books, I never saw them as any different. They were all ‘auteurs’ working in animation. Animation, it seemed to me, was also one of the most auteurist of media because it allowed for people to almost do it singlehanded, and anyway, in its self-conscious artifice was always implicitly and explicitly marked by it authorship. With the development of new technologies alongside the ‘100-Year Tool Box’ of the old technologies, and lots of cross-platform opportunities for exhibition and distribution, and the final recognition that animation is at the centre of cinematic practice and not at its margins, I think the future for ‘auteur’ animation is very healthy. It then depends upon who recognises and promotes its value and quality, and that is clearly a role for Animation Studies, which thankfully is now growing all over the world.” Paul Wells writer and academic
Sam’s Hot Dogs (2009) by David Lopez Retamero
“When I was 18, a friend and I filmed some shorts in video and Super-8 using plasticine. Horror movies have always inspired me, specially all the ones with animation or animatronics in it, like The Thing, or Robocop or Jason and the Argonauts. My work has horror, comedy, characters, and a taste for beautiful and mysterious images. I find ideas in books or people’s experiences in real life, like my own ones or things I read in newspapers. I take a character with something special in his life, and I draw different actions he/ she/it is doing. Then I try to develop a story with the character: write, write, write, draw, and re-write more.”
15th February (1995) by Tim Webb
David Lopez Retamero animation filmmaker www.davidlretamero.com
“I think content should lead the process. My work is mostly 2D drawn based though I often combine this with live action, pixilation and stop frame. I have to find an idea worth all the effort in making the film. When I have found an idea I think is good I will research around it whether it be a documentary or narrative. I will then start to try and visualize and make connections. I try and think about the whole structure. Funding is also a key to creation and this is more difficult than ever to find. I have a existing narrative which I initially wanted to make into a longish film but funding would be highly unlikely and I am now interested in adapting it to a graphic novel.” Tim Webb animation filmmaker and senior tutor, Royal College of Art
To Whom it May Concern (2009) by Ian Gouldstone
“guy101 was my graduation film from the RCA. Although it is a very basic-looking and sounding film, it was very carefully designed. As a former employer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe gave me some money to make the film, which was very useful when it came to sound design. I got to work with one of the very best sound people in London, Jim Betteridge. I’m certain it was that collaboration that gave guy101 the polish it needed to be such a success and ultimately win a BAFTA. While the purist in me says that awards are important, as a real person, it feels great to have my work viewed in such a prestigious manner.” Ian Gouldstone animation filmmaker www.iwgouldstone.com
Verse (2010) by Tony Comley
“I started the Melbourne International Animation Festival in 2000, which I am still the co-director of. The London International Animation Festival (LIAF) was started in 2004 as a sister festival to MIAF. It has grown over six years into the largest animation festival of its kind in the UK. Animators spend many, many hours, days, years labouring over their work and the least we can do is provide a platform for these films to be seen at and discussed, and hopefully inspire another legion of animators to go on and create new work. LIAF receives more than 2300 short animated films a year, which we whittle down to the 150 or so that we screen. It has been going up about 10% each year since we started. While the quantity we receive has increased the
quality hasn’t necessarily. Software becomes cheaper and more available and there are more and more animation courses around the world. We try to screen as many different styles, techniques and genres as possible – so there is something for everyone – and I feel that animation is in a very healthy state. Animators have a tendency to dig in and create their own personal stories – they are a very hardened bunch because most of them know that the rewards are few and far between, but they still have a burning desire to make their films and create these amazing interior worlds. I hope LIAF is a celebration of this.” Nag Vladermersky festival director, LIAF www.liaf.org.uk
“I identified myself as an “artist” from a very young age, but since no-one around me really knew what that was, it became difficult to work out where I was headed. I studied graphic design as a way of reconciling this with a certain top-down pressure to “get a proper job”. It was on this degree that tutors began to spot tendencies in my work that pointed to some form of storytelling. One of them suggested taking an MA in animation at the Royal College of Art, which I did with all the enthusiasm of someone who had never actually heard of the place. Once there I saw the wisdom of my former tutors and made an obtuse film about class/relationships/religion/firearms/science/photography/ robots that was very successful, but which I secretly feel is a bit of a mess. It was featured on the BBC film network and drew the attention of someone at Channel 4 who invited me to direct some animation for a documentary about Ronnie Kray’s sex life. I approached Sherbet to produce it and off the back of that I finally, after all these years, have what could be described as “a proper job” Tony Comley animation filmmaker
Jeffery and the Dinosaurs (2008) by Christoph Steger
“Most of my work can be described as “animated documentaries”. I always start out with finding real characters, interviewing filming them and then spending months editing the material and carving out the most engaging story. I rarely start out with a visual look – I let the style of the film evolve naturally out of the subject matter. There isn’t enough funding out there to live on making your own work, but I’m developing ideas for future projects – I might make a fiction film for a change. There seems to be quite some interest in animated documentaries these days. It’s being talked about a lot at both documentary and animation festivals and my films get much better feedback in the documentary community. There will always be people who want to express their personal vision through animation. I hope that the funding situation for non-commercial films will improve in the future. The distribution possibilities will be amazing (internet, digital TV etc.) but somebody needs to provide the resources to make films in the first place.” Christoph Steger animation filmmaker www.animateprojects.org/films/by_artist/s/c_steger
“One of the things that drove my PhD was an interest One of the things brought home to me working at in the way that certain activities like animation were AUCB is that practitioners are always researching and seen as more to do with the craft, the making, reflecting – the difference is that Animation Studies production skills and the like – and that ‘academic’ takes that thinking and, in a sense, formalises it. This questions were, in a sense, ‘off to one side’ of this. I makes it accessible in the form of increased publications think over the past 10-15 years or so, Animation and other public forums (conferences, symposia), where Studies as an activity (if not quite an established the ideas are debated, contested and developed. The discipline – yet) has grown enormously. There are now other thing to note here is that a body such as the far more scholarly books and articles published, the Society for Animation Studies www.animationstudies.org groundbreaking Animation Journal (begun in 1992 in is home not only to scholars, researchers, and archivists, the USA by Maureen Furniss) has been added to by but also filmmakers, animators, producers and others animation: an interdisciplinary journal (2006-date, edited who are engaged on the practical side of the fence. by Suzanne Buchan) and will soon be joined by a third I think we are, crucially, in a mutually supportive journal Animation: Practice, Production & Process (from relationship. And I would encourage anyone interested 2011, edited by Paul Wells). This is a sign of a healthy to come along to this year’s SAS conference in Edinburgh, field. And I think that Animation Studies raises the 9-11 July, and see what we are up to! profile of animation in general because no practical http://animation-evolution.blogspot.com.” activity exists in a vacuum, and Animation Studies Paul Ward writer and academic offers a space for critical discourse about animation.
After I graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007, I missed being part of an animation community, the kind of spontaneous community one also finds at film festivals. At festivals it is very easy to meet new people, discuss ideas and get generally fired up and enthusiastic about new projects. However, when one returns home to real life and a precarious freelance existence, it is very easy to lose all one’s enthusiasm, particularly if one works alone.
club also attracts sound-designers, composers and other filmmakers so it can be a useful networking opportunity, although it is mainly intended as a social occasion. I also wanted to recapture some of the social culture that animators enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days they used to say, “If you want to become an animator, go and drink in a pub where animators drink.” So our current home, the Dog & Duck on Bateman Street, used to be Bob Godfrey’s (and George Orwell’s) after-work local.
In 2009 I set up London Animation Club, a monthly meeting point for animators, in a pub in central London, Martin Pickles animation filmmaker as a way of keeping this enthusiasm going and to create an informal animation community in the capital. The www.martinpickles.com/londonanimationclub.html
“When I was 15, I was particularly impressed by The Man Who Planted Trees by Fredéric Back: its international success, and the impact this film had on real life – children planting trees all over the world – despite the film being made with a tiny budget by two lonesome artists in a dark room. What a great inspiration to an ambitious but secretive teenager! All of my films probably explore the same theme: Love, Desire. Whatever technique I try, my hand draws anyhow in a “naïve” way, which is fortunately balanced by the crudity of the stories. For my last short Hubert, The Man with the Candies, I started the construction of the film through the soundtrack. I collected interviews of Hubert and his friends, then I edited the interviews into an eight-minute soundtrack till it had dramatic coherence. At this point I was able to draw a storyboard, which the production company, Les Films de l’Arlequin, could use to find funding. As the TV gave us a short deadline, I had to hire a little team, up to four people at some point: I’m not used to that, I used to work on my own on my previous films. Instead of asking them to bend their style into mine, I used each talent for itself: so the picture has a “collage” style, similar to the soundtrack. I edited all the bits of the film regularly so I could check if my ideas in the storyboard were working. I like to put my hands in all the steps of the production (writing, drawing, animating, editing), but sound is my limit. So I leave it to the technicians! But I supervise it, of course.” Marie Paccou animation filmmaker www.filmbricole.fr www.experimentanimation.fr
“I think for me it has been useful to be a bit different from many traditional animators in that my work isn’t cute, narrative and character-driven. After seeing my differentness as a drawback initially, I tried to regard it as what marketing people call a USP – a unique selling point. So I began carving a little niche for myself as an experimentalist by concentrating on what I love doing naturally – abstraction, sound, live performance – rather than trying to bend myself to perceived audience/ client/market/funding/commissioning demands. So far, this approach has served me well and has enabled me to keep making work, while paying the bills. What’s important is to be fairly organized about it, to do the boring admin, and not to expect any big things quickly. From my experience, people make their own luck. It’s a slow process of building up an artistic/filmmaking career, and the support networks to maintain it. Spreading oneself thin across a number of disciplines can be another strategy. My life, for example, consists
of approximately one quarter each of art practice, commercial work, live audiovisual performance, and teaching. All of these together allow me to continue doing what I do, and they all inform and spark off each other, too.” Max Hattler animation filmmaker www.maxhattler.com
“The talent is still there – there’s no doubt about that.” Clare Kitson
“When I left university I was doing a not very exciting job in market research but a friend was doing an evening job assisting John Halas in his work for ASIFA. When she left, I took the job and got very interested in animation. Then I was offered a job scheduling animation at the Los Angeles County Art Museum – a very steep learning curve.
transmitted in good slots, but that seemed to be far harder than getting the funding to make the films. My book The Channel 4 Factor: British Animation is in two parts really. The larger part consists of in-depth portraits of 30 key films that C4 either commissioned, co-commissioned or, in one case, just provided completion funding for. The other part is a narrative of animation’s history on the channel, looking at the influences – internal and external – that affected the fortunes of minority-audience programming.
I commissioned and purchased animation for Channel 4 from 1989 to 1999. I took over from Paul Madden, who’d done a fantastic job in finding and encouraging some of the most original filmmakers. During Paul’s time and the first half of mine, we were ruled by our government These days, filmmakers can make films at home on their remit – to produce programming that was innovative in personal computers if they have the time to devote to it. But I do think the old way of making films had its form and content and catered for audiences not catered for. Because advertising receipts were plentiful in those advantages, notably the fact that a whole team was involved. It gets a bit dangerous if a single person makes days, we didn’t have to make our programming all the decisions. Films can get a bit self-indulgent. In commercial in order to please the advertisers. We just the 80s and 90s TV was a major force in the development did our best to nurture the best British animation. (Later on the channel needed to make more popular programmes of Auteur Animation, managing to energize an area where there was no commercial market. I’m not sure because of the competition from new channels for what kind of entity will step into the shoes of TV. advertising revenue, so it became a lot harder.) Two of The talent is still there – there’s no doubt about that.” the useful things we did were to launch the Animate! scheme with the Arts Council and the Animator-inClare Kitson author and C4 commissioning editor for Residence scheme with the Museum of the Moving Image. We also tried to get our innovative programmes animation (1989-1999)
If you’re a music video director you’ll like this… By Caroline Bottomley
I look after an online network for music video directors, record labels and independent artists, called RadarMusicVideos. Here’s what we do… Who Uses Radar? Every fortnight about 12,000 people tune into our newsletter. Many, probably most, are directors and they’re based all over the world. I know we have Guatemalan commercials directors, award-winning directors from Gateshead, Mexican art-house directors, makers of Romanian action shorts, feted Appalachian stop-frame animators in Radar. I know there are many, many more directors of commercial, arty, quirky, hardhitting, beautiful, funny and above all, excellent films and videos, who use and contribute to Radar.
Commissioning So what’s the attraction? The main Thing We Do is advertise music video briefs from independent artists and labels (and occasionally for artists on majors). All briefs have budgets, usually a thousand pounds or two. The majority invite any ideas, so there’s a broad, clean slate to work from and often no need to film the artist/s. This means directors in Portugal can, and do, pitch on briefs for bands based in Shoreditch. Directors on Radar talk about music video as a uniquely creative genre, a genre with a heady freedom for selfexpression. And of course, that they’re fun to make.
Behind The Scenes There’s a small group of us, scattered over the UK and US who run Radar. People have come in and out over the last three years, but Radar is mainly run by me, happily plotting…
Promoting Music Videos
TOP: Aeroplane ‘Superstar’ by Ewan Jones Morris and Casey Raymond, based near Cardiff, Wales. We started featuring their work about 18 months ago. This the first ‘proper’ budget music video they made after getting repaid by Crossfire Productions. www.radarmusicvideos.com/video/ aeroplane-superstar RIGHT: Glez ‘Todo Y Tiempo’ by NYSU. They’re Spanish, based in Madrid and make phenomenal music videos for mainly Spanish artists. www.radarmusicvideos.com/video/ glez-todo-el-tiempo
Having developed the commissioning platform, we realised there’s other services directors, artists and labels want.
We started offering paid ads some time ago; directors or artists pay for an advert in our newsletter (the 12k subscribers) and in our Tipsheet (goes to 450 or so editors of music blogs, video sites and TV channels). Directors buy ads either for self-promotion, or because they’re working alongside the band, promoting the video and the artist. We’re about to roll out a buyable, clickable list of the Tipsheet-related sites, so directors, artist and labels will be able to bolster their ads with a DIY press campaign.
Broadcasting Music Videos There’s another service we just started, RadarTV – one of those projects that feels like it’s going to get massive. We provide curated content via the RadarTV brand to MTV, ARTE, PlayStation3, SamsungTV and about 25 other broadcasters. RadarTV is also in the process of becoming a YouTube partner, generating revenues for rights holders. And, we’re about to start our own programme making: RadarTV Pick of the Week.
Get Involved There’s a lot you can do with Radar for free: Get the newsletter and watch RadarTV picks; Sign up for a free account and get ‘10 ways to promote your music video’ (you get all 35 if you sign up for an annual subscription); Read the blog – articles coming include the ‘19 Best Music Video Festivals to Submit Your Work’, ‘How to Get Repped’ plus a load of specialist stuff about music videos and promotion from experts and boffins. If you want to buy any of the services, sign up for a free account at www.RadarMusicVideos.com then go to your dashboard to buy subscriptions, adverts, the PR media list and check out upload to RadarTV.
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iNFORMATiON DOcUMENTARiES THAT cOULD SERiOUSLY ALTER YOUR ViEW OF THE WORLD chris Atkins on TAkiNg LiBERTiES • Brent Leung on HOUSE OF NUMBERS Robert kenner & Eric Schlosser on FOOD, iNc. Festivals: Artivist, Berlin, Birds Eye View, Borderlines, Bradford, Human Rights Watch, Mumbai, Sundance
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Asiel Norton Lyn Shelton Todd Solondz
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Volume 4 Nº 3
Festivals: Adelaide, Dublin, Animated Exeter, Glasgow, london short FF, london Australian FF, Palm springs
Looking over the Red Cliff: The new rise of Asian cinema
SouTh ASIAn CIneMA
Dario Argento Neil Oseman Jake West
Australian Cinema at the Crossroads… Again talking Ozploitation with Mark Hartley
February – March 2009
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