Sunday, March 25, 2012

Michael Sporn's Poe Project

The clock is ticking on Michael Sporn's Kickstarter campaign to help finance his feature based on the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. Donations as low as $5 are possible. If you are someone who supports drawn animation, independent films or just intelligent animated features, this is a worthy project.

Michael has been nominated for an Oscar, won several Cable ACE awards and been making films for decades. He is not a newbie who thought it would be fun to make an animated film, but a veteran director who is bucking commercial constraints in order to tackle subject matter that is common for live action film but all too rare in animation.

Below are art samples from the project's website. If the art suggests that this is a film you'd like to see, help it come into existence by making a donation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Cartoon Grows Up

TV Ontario ran two animated features, Perspepolis and Mary and Max, on Saturday Night at the Movies on March 17. As usual, between features, they ran interview footage relating to the films. This segment features Oscar winner Chris Landreth (Ryan), Director and animator Robin Budd (Producing Parker, Ruby Gloom) and me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sheridan Industry Day Promo

It's almost that time of year again, where the students graduating from Sheridan's animation program screen their films for industry guests. The above is a taste of what's coming.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton

I never saw Brad Bird's Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and I won't be seeing Andrew Stanton's John Carter. The analyst in me is still interested in the contrast between the two.

Brad Bird
Made a sequel to a successful franchise
The film starred one of the few actors who can still "open" a film
Made a film that had similarities to his animated film The Incredibles

Andrew Stanton
Made a film based on a 100-year-old book with no preceding movie
The film starred someone who has never before received top billing in a feature
Made a film that was not similar to his animated films Finding Nemo and Wall-E.

John Carter is being touted as a flop that may not hit $30 million for its opening weekend. While Bird emerged from Mission Impossible as somebody who is bankable in both animation and live action, Stanton is already being declared a live action failure. I found this paragraph from Deadline Hollywood interesting. I have no idea how valid it is, but the fact that this is the perception in at least part of Hollywood doesn't bode well for Stanton's future in live action. The ellipses are in the original; the paragraph is quoted verbatim.
"To summarize: this flop is the result of a studio trying to indulge Pixar… Of an arrogant director who ignored everybody’s warnings that he was making a film too faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first novel in the Barsoom series “A Princess of Mars”… Of the failure of Dick Cook, and Rich Ross, and Bob Iger to rein in Stanton’s excessive ego or pull the plug on the movie’s bloated budget … Of really rotten marketing that failed to explain the significant or scope of the film’s Civil War-to-Mars story and character arcs and instead made the 3D movie look way as generic as its eventual title… Disagree all you want, but Hollywood is telling me that competent marketing could have drawn in women with the love story, or attracted younger males who weren’t fanboys of the source material. Instead the campaign was as rigid and confusing as the movie itself, not to mention that ’Before Star Wars, Before Avatar‘ tag line should have come at the start and not at the finish. But even more I think John Carter is a product of mogul wuss-ism as much as it is misplaced talent worship. More detail to come."
Deadline Hollywood is not the only one examining John Carter's box office failure. The N.Y. Times wades in as well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Michael Sporn, Poe and Kickstarter

Michael Sporn has been developing an animated feature about author Edgar Allan Poe and has decided to use Kickstarter to finance the project.

One of the most encouraging things about the increased number of animated features in the last several decades is the content that is not aimed at children or the family audience. Films like Persepolis, Mary and Max, Waltz with Bashir, etc. use animation to deal with adult themes.

Michael Sporn is no stranger to those themes. Even his films that appear to be aimed at children, such as Abel's Island, are really about adult concerns.

As the cost of mainstream animated features continues to go higher, the films take fewer risks. There are more sequels, more adaptations and just more of the same. Even Pixar seems to be falling into established patterns.

Directors like Michael Sporn, working on a shoestring, take more chances than Hollywood. Their continued existence is essential for the health of the animated art form. The only way pop culture changes is by absorbing influences from existing work, but the big studios are all so similar that they've got nothing to absorb that they're not already doing. It's the outliers, people committed to their vision in the face of high odds, that break new ground. When their work comes into being, it affects the creative conversation.

Michael Sporn has been fighting the good fight for decades. He's gravitated towards thoughtful, original films when he could have surrendered to service work. He's consistently given opportunities to artists starting their careers. He's worked with top voice and music talent who are not the usual suspects. And he can do more with a dollar than any producer I know. Large animation studios spend more on catering than Michael gets to make whole films.

I hope that this Kickstarter campaign succeeds and I get to see the completed feature. I have made my financial pledge to make this film a reality and I hope that anyone interested in the artistic growth of animation will throw a few dollars in the direction of this project.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Canadian Wimp

Apparently, somebody complained about the above clip from Family Guy, and
"The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled on Thursday that the broadcaster did a good job warning viewers about sexual content and bad language in the show, but didn’t provide a heads up about violence. To make amends, Global [the broadcaster] must tell its viewers it violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence code during prime time viewing hours, and then repeat the message once more time at any time."
The idea that anybody watching Family Guy would find this shocking is shocking to me. In fact, the idea that anybody watches Family Guy is shocking to me. However, I do sleep better at night knowing that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council won't allow Bugs Bunny to die unless viewers are warned in advance.