Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taafi Report

July6-8 was the first TAAFI festival.  TAAFI stands for Toronto Animation and Arts Festival International.  I suspect that the acronym was chosen before the full title was worked out, but that's okay.  TAAFI is catchy.

Ben McAvoy and Barnabas Wornoff are the two guys who made it all happen.  They spent the better part of a year pulling everything together and I have to say it was a successful festival, especially for a first-time event.  The TIFF Bell Lightbox, located in downtown Toronto and easily accessible, was a good venue, keeping all the events under a single roof.  The fest was a good mix of screenings, workshops and presentations and there was more happening than any individual could take in.

Some of the events included a screening of Rock and Rule with a reunion of some of the crew, the North American premiere of Ronal the Barbarian, a northern European 3D cgi feature that parodied sword and sorcery movies, workshops by Charlie Bonifacio on posing, Peter Emslie on caricature and John Kricfalusi on story development.  There were panel discussions on games, the state of the Ontario industry, independent animators and a retrospective of Kaj Pindal's career.

There were four programs of shorts and a separate program of student films all programmed by Mike Weiss.

I know from talking to Ben that the festival was a financial success and that there are plans to do it again next year.  While there are organizations like The Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) and the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO), Toronto has been a fragmented animation commmunity.  Here's hoping that TAAFI continues to be successful and serves as a hub and rallying point for the Toronto animation community.

I didn't have my camera with me over the weekend, so the following pictures are lifted from other sites or individuals.  Below are shots from Grayden Laing's blog.

Facing the camera: Adam Hines and Andrew Murray of Guys with Pencils.  Facing away from the camera, Nick Cross, Rex Hackelberger and Marlo Meekins.  You can hear a podcast interviewing Cross and Meekins here.

John K. leads his workshop.

From the Rock and Rule panel.  L to R: Robin Budd, Scott Caple, Willie Ashworth, Charlie Bonifacio.

The photo below is by Sanaz Asli.
That's me on the left moderating a question and answer session with Kaj Pindal.


Brubaker said...

Sounds like you had fun, Mark.

Yeah, "TAAFI" is a good name.

Anonymous said...

workshops by [...] John Kricfalusi on story development



Michael Sporn said...

I wish I had seen the Kaj Pindal Q&A. One of my favorite interviewers with one of my favorite animators.

Daniel Gies said...

I attended TAAFI and was sorely disappointed by the organizational aspect of the festival. The only official networking event was held on the very first night - which may be sufficient for those hardcore networkers, but I prefer to have something more concrete, like the shared experiences in the workshops/screenings, to discuss. In the entire course of the weekend, I didn't give out one business card. Compare that to the Ottawa Animation Festival last year, where I gave out approximately 35.

Pitch a Palooza was cancelled on the Monday before the festival. Considering the first session was scheduled for Wednesday night, it didn't give ample time to make other arrangements. Ben, the co-founder, promised that those still interested in participating would be accommodated for. He then disappeared by the time Friday rolled around and stopped returning emails and phone calls. I was told that I would receive a full refund for the Pitch a Palooza but have yet to hear back.

I wish these were my only complaints, but I have quite an exhausting list of very real issues and problems. TAAFI spent a lot of money on it's branding and marketing, too bad more thought wasn't put into the actual coordination and facilitation.

Given it was the first one, I am trying to be more forgiving but it is difficult, especially when I read that TAAFI made a profit. I sure hope they don't include all the money they owe for reimbursement in their math.

Am I the only one who was extremely disappointed with the event?

Mark Mayerson said...

Daniel, I would be the first to admit that everything did not run perfectly. However, I think that for a first festival, I was quite impressed. The financial and organizational challenges are substantial.

I wasn't aware that the pitch session was cancelled. I hope that you're aware that if you have material to pitch, broadcasters and production companies are available to hear it on an ongoing basis. Don't let the lack of a pitch session at a festival deter you. (I will refrain here from giving my opinions on pitching, but if you search for pitching on this blog, my attitude will be quite clear.)

Give your refund some time. I think that the organizers need time to recover from the festival and to tie up loose ends.

If you attended early versions of TCAF, such as when it was in tents in Honest Ed's parking lot, you know that events take time to grow and solidify. My hope is that TAAFI will follow in TCAF's footsteps.

swtcurran said...

I wish I could have been attended. It sounded like fun even if some of the organizational aspects were ramshackle. Sometimes that's half the charm.

Thiago Levy said...

John K's workshop was a life changing experience. I learned so much. My work has improved drastically, and I am very thankful for Taafi.

Please help Uncle John Kricfalusi by promoting his Kickstarter thing here on your wonderful blog. I am also curious to know what are your views on this new way to produce animation.