Commentary &Daily post 21 Oct 2006 08:52 am


- Let’s see.
. First there was an interview with Patrick Smith on AWN.
. Then Amid Amidi commented on Cartoon Brew.
. Then David Levy wrote an editorial on the ASIFA-East newsletter/site.
. Then I had a couple of comments on David‘s comments.
. Then Amid was back to comment on David,
. Stephen Worth had a lot to say on my blog.
. Mark Mayerson commented on his site.
. Amid posted a number of the emails sent to him and led to sites & blogs that commented.
- And he continues to post more and more input on the subject.


All that being said; I think there was a lot of good conversation on the subject. I was particularly taken by what Chris Robinson had to say on Cartoon Brew:

    This obsession animators have with getting a tv series drives me crazy. Why is it your goal to have a tv series? Who said animation has to have regular characters, actors, and narratives? Your mommy? I see how it influences and ruins so many short films we receive at the OIAF because these works have not one ounce of personality, they are projects made to try to appease the desires/wants/needs of what they think SOMEONE ELSE wants…they are not making art, they are seeking markets to fit into.

This is a very high-minded response to the entire question of pitching vs making an independent film, but it’s the heart of the matter. You’re doing one or the other, but not both. Series samples are just that – samples. They’re not EVER fully developed. The maxim goes that a series doesn’t develop fully until the 2nd or 3rd year. An Independent short is all there is. (Usually. I can only think of one example of a series growing out of a truly Independent short – Bob’s Birthday. (I’ve discounted the Christmas card from the South Park people.) The only example I can think of a pilot acting as a stand-alone film is The Chicken From Outer Space.)

In essence, I think, Chris Robinson is right: Art is Art (a high & mighty term for most animated films), and commerce is commerce.

– Today, at Noon, a series of current family films will show at the Museum of Modern Art. Admission is free on a first come first serve basis. They have one of these each month. There’s a particularly interesting screening coming Dec. 9th.

Josh Staub‘s cg film, The Mantis Parable, is among those featured today.

- Tomorrow, Sunday Oct.22nd at 2pm, the Museum of Modern Art will screen Nina Paley‘s short film, The Stork.

3 Responses to “Conversation”

  1. on 21 Oct 2006 at 7:01 pm 1.Cheryl Ray said …

    I understand why you are saying Art is Art and Commerce is Commerce but I believe the reason animators/creators want to get a series deal is that they want to make a good living and hopefully have the opportunity to make good animation (although I agree that it doesn’t happen very often.) The problem is that unfortunately unless you are independently wealthy you have to look at animation as commerce because that is how potential studios and investors view it. Animation for Art’s sake alone is great and I hope people never stop making incredible shorts but the reality is that animation is an expensive medium and if animators/creators want to make a living they have remember that animation is also commerce just as live action films are commerce. When Walt Disney started his studio he needed to make a living – all of his brilliant work was born under the umbrella of commerce. If his shorts made no money there would be no Disney today. The golden age of animation existed because of commerce and the animated short died because there was no longer a market for it – it no longer made money for distributors. I may offend everyone but this industry is commerce. There are new markets opening up that may save the animated short and make it viable in the commerce world – digital distribution – downloads for mobile phones and internet downloads. I hope that digital distribution will open up new opportunities for animated shorts.
    I’m sure that Amid and everyone else will blast what I’ve said because I’ve reduced an art form to commerce but in all honesty – Da Vinci and all of the great artists throughout history have had to work with patrons and take commissions – that’s commerce.

  2. on 21 Oct 2006 at 9:30 pm 2.Michael said …

    Of course, you have to do work to make money, but given the new simpler technology available to you, it’s vertually free for you to do films of your own. With an idea, drawing using flash, or photoshop & aftereffects there’s no reason why you can’t do inexpensive animation.

    The problem is the time that it takes. You have to be singleminded enough and driven enough to do it. Don’t blame your reason for not doing it on money.

    Once at a talk I attended, Werner Herzog was asked by some student what he should do to get into films. Herzog said make them. That’s all there is. If you don’t have a camera, rent one; if you can’t rent one, steal one. If you have to make movies, you have to make movies. That’s all there is to it. Don’t give yourself excuses, because they don’t count. I’m living close to the edge, but I’m still finding ways to make movies I care about. You can too.

  3. on 25 Oct 2006 at 2:11 am 3.DAWK said …

    There is a lot to said about toon artists whom create art,for the sake of art and the term…’starving artist’ speaks about MOST artists fighting the constant battle with time and money.Unless an artist is wealthy and not really hungry for commercial success,then art becomes a very casual endeavor,with very little pressure to make a profit,and often success come easily .Thats why in the past,’royalty’ produced some of historys’ masters, like 15th century Guissepe Arcimboldo,who was employed by royalty,as a painter by the royal court.My art has been compared by artists to Arcimboldo’s ,but am not ..yet commisioned by royalty,so it’s back to the ‘festivals’ for me.
    There – in lies the problem with starving artists who make animation; they want to rise above poverty-creating toon art and this can motivate them to seek (commercial)results via a series.
    I would estimate my own toon(praised by amid amidi with an article in the blast) concept of ten years,still on-going,could NOW..use about two million dollars to really make it ‘market’ effective and then,there would be no need to ‘pitch’…because that kind of financial backing would KICK-ASS…and also have NO need of ‘animation festivals’ which are primarly for the starving artist!
    In fact, animation festivals would have a hard time getting anything worth viewing,if excellent concepts were ‘funded’ by benevolent sources,like-say… the mac authur foundation-etc.
    Artists,lacking money to create: Ask yourself what YOU would do if YOU had 500 grand,for five years,at one hundred grand a year?
    Would YOU enter any animation festivals with that kind of money comming in? Would YOU ‘pitch’ for ‘the going rate’,that being a token-insult of ‘peanuts’,offered by the toon goons?
    NO: You would most likely produce and sell-direct to the public, on the internet,via your own site,with total control of profits and sales,if you had any business smarts.
    Success would likley come ‘knocking’ on your studio door from major studios,NOW…respectfull of your strong-money-market position, eager to ‘share’ in your success of million+ sales- dvd and other licensing ideas.

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