Friday, December 14, 2007
Wowsers. How time flies.
Anyway, quick updates on life and such -
I left New York. That's right - couldn't stand the place any longer. Time to ride off into the sunset. Moved back to Texas, which I never thought I would do but I enjoy immensely. Worked at a Victoria Secret of all places - for a week and a half. Then got a job at a company I like but which weirdly enough I'm not actually allowed to say on the Internet. Crazy right? But all of you know what I'm talking about so no big deal.
As soon as I can I'll start posting new art. I've been working on "Xia" more than drawing the past two weeks. I love that story but am so sick of it at the same time. As soon as it's done I can start working on the next script. Nickelodeon will be conducting another fellowship for 2009, so I'll be entering that. Hopefully I'll win a spot for the fall, that would be quite exciting.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Being sick really sucks. There's no way around it. It's not like you can plan the time when you're sick "Yeah, I'd like to schedule being ill during the month of March, dates? Yeah - 12th and 13th."
Sadly, it just doesn't work that way. Fortunately, I am the Queen of making my own fun, so after sleeping (A LOT) I watched a movie I've been meaning to see for quite some time - "Big Fish." It's different than what I was expecting. For starters, the first hour wasn't any good. I kept watching it going, "Now, what is the point of this movie?" They had me at the end though, when you discover that most of what the father said in his stories was true, but still, you shouldn't have to sit for 2 hours for a movie to get decent.
Speaking of movies, been rewriting "Xia" for the ASA/Gotham Screenplay contest. Due date Oct. 31st. It is quite different from the original screenplay, but closer in tone and events to the novel. I am enjoying the process but will be quite glad when the whole thing is over with. I've had this story in my head since I was 16. Time to set it free.
Yes, the concert was quite smashing. The into band, Datarock - very weird. They looked like Ben Stiller in "The Royal Tenebaums," complete with sunglasses and red track suits. The keyboardist totally made that band. He kept jumping around, clapping and - get this - playing the saxophone. Kind of badly, but by the end, he had everyone cheering. He made that band.
The next band, I don't even know their name. They never introduced themselves. Don't you hate that? They kind of sounded like a cross between Radiohead and something, can't quite describe them.
And then - KAISER CHIEFS. They lowered a huge sign with their name on it, and it was ON. The whole crowd stood to their feet when they played my FAVORITE SONG FIRST - "Everyday I love you less and less." Excellent. They are so good live. Much better than on their CDs. "Ruby" and "I Predict A Riot" were also crowd favorites. And in a great comedic moment, the lead singer introduced the keyboardist (Peanut) and encouraged him to come to the front to sing a song. Peanut high fived people and clapped, and the crowd started chanting "Ole, ole ole ole," to get him going, much to the amusement of the lead singer, who doubled-over laughing.
What an excellent show! They came out and did 2 songs for an encore, and the lead jumped into the crowd, climbing over seats and shaking people's hands. Amazing, simply amazing.
Rock on, Brits!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
We clapped when he walked down the aisle. We clapped when he got to the stage, we clapped when B&N's Joyce the Announcer introduced him, and we clapped when he left to tape Anderson Cooper 360.
Oh yeah, and there was this other guy there - Jeffrey Toobin. He wrote a book called "The Nine" about the Supreme Court. Man knew his stuff. Anderson interviewed him for 25 minutes before jetting to CNN headquarters. Jeff then amused us with interesting tales about the famed and mysterious Court, then opened the floor for questions.
I always love audience Q & A sessions. Inevitably there is always some crazed person who pontificates about their life without actually asking anything, or who tries to ram some point that has nothing to do with anything down the throats of the audience, or someone who is downright pathetic. In this case, there was this young-ish guy in the back that started to get into some conspiracy theory about 9/11 that had jack squat to do with the topic,
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Due to an unforeseen rainstorm preventing a trip to the zoo "Look Jahkwona, wet, miserable animals! Fun!" my little sister and I hoofed it to the local megaplex where we were greeted by a paucity of movies aimed at anyone below the age of 19. None were suitable for the kid, except for one "Sydney White."
Here's what I knew about this movie:
1. It starred Amanda Bynes (reigning queen of perky tween movies)
2. It was a retelling of Snow White in college (translation: Disney-esque)
3. It starred Amanda Bynes
Miss Bynes is the anti-Lindsay, goofy and beloved by tween and teen girls everywhere.
In other words, safe for a 9-year-old.
So off we went, and while they didn't break the mold with his one, it got the job done.
Basically story goes like this - cute and lovable Sydney White (Bynes) lost her mom at age 9 and was raised by cute and lovable dad Paul (Johnathan Scheinder) on a construction site. So we're led to believe that even though she's got Oxyclean skin and can apply make-up better than most supermodels, she knows more about a Phillips head screwdriver than the perfect prom dress.
OK, suspension of disbelief--on.
But Syndey longs to follow in the footsteps of her dearly deceased mommy, and decides the best way to do so is to join mom's sorority, Kappa Phi Nu, upon entering her freshman year of college.
So off she goes to Southern Atlantic University, but trouble is a brewin'!
Enter Rachel Witchburn (aka Sara Paxton aka Evil Queen) stereotypical blond queen bee we've already seen in every other teen movie made in the past decade ("Mean Girls" anyone?) Ms. Witch is president of both the sorority house AND student council (natch). And wouldn't you know it, Rachel's goal is to be the fairest in the land - via a "Hot or Not" list posted on the school's MySpace page, the magic mirror updated for the 21st century blogging generation. She also has her peepers set on turning the Vortex, a sadder than dirt student residence house and home of the seven dorks, into her own private campus complex with the help of her parents money and funds from the family of her ex, Tyler Prince (aka Matt Long, and if the names aren't enough to convince you what role he is to play, I can't help you.) Prince could care less about his old flame, for even though he is the Frat Boy King, he has a heart of gold.
But enter Sydney! Because of legacy Rachel has to let her rush with the sea of blond cookie cutter fembots. She gives poor Sydney hell but the girl still catches the eye of the Prince, befriends a Dallas-cheerleader-like sidekick girl named Dinky and meets the first of the dorks (the dwarfs of the story), Lenny (Jack Carpenter in a role that quiet frankly is suited for a better movie).
However Rachel's bile and insecurity pushes her to use various loopholes to banish Sydney from the sisterhood and humiliate her in front of everyone at the rush dance. Poor Syd is left with no place to go, but look! The dorks have emerged and offer her a place to rest her wary head! And all of them are straight out of the 1937 classic with one-dimensional updates. There's Terrence (Doc, aka Jeremy Howard) a dude who's been in college 6 years past his graduation date and doing weird experiments with mice; Gurkin (Grumpy aka Danny Strong) an angry conspiracy theorist blogger; Embele (Sleepy aka Donte Bonner) a Nigerian who never adjusted to the time zone difference; Spanky (Happy aka Samm Levine) a horny ladies man-wannabe with zero luck with the opposite sex; Jeremy (Bashful aka Adam Hendershott) a who speaks through the hand puppet of petshop.com and George (Dopey aka Arnie Pantoja) a Tiger Scout who can't tie knots and earn his last merit badge. And of course, Lenny, (aka Sneezy) who is actually more like Doc, for he leads this pack of motley geeks who have found solace in the deathtrap of a dorm they call home.
Sydney, firecracker that she is, decides to help her new friends by getting them better housing, and the only way to do that is to get them to run against Rachel in the student council elections.
They decide Terrence should run for prez (why? who knows!) and they campaign in earnest. But stuff happens, mainly Terrence getting disqualified for already graduating, leading them to pick Sydney to run, which should have been there first clue anyway. Sydney obviously (because it's her show, isn't it?) wins over the hearts and minds of the people by reaching out to everyone not in the Greek System. Which is, in her own words, 80 percent of the student body.
This propels her to the No. 1 slot on the "Hot or Not" list, and the Evil Queen in a last ditch effort to destroy the fair princess, enlists the help of a techno-goth to send a computer virus (the poison apple) to Sydney's computer, destroying her term paper the night before the big stu. co. debate. Sydney pulls an all-nighter, and the debate nearly goes on without her, but lo! Prince Charming awakens her with a kiss inside the study hall, they rush to the debate where Sydney gives a lame "I'm a dork, we're all dorks!" speech that unifies the masses and destroys the Queen.
In the end the Vortex is saved, Sydney gets the Prince, Lenny gets Dinky, and the Queen is kicked out of the sorority. The End. It's all escapist-fluff, but the demographic it caters to voiced their pleasure at seeing their girl win. And there are winning scenes that come out of left-field, such as the Evil Queen paying the techno-goth in hotpockets, the dorks re-enacting fight scenes from "Gladiator" and even an homage to the "Hi-ho off to work we go" sequence of the original, with the seven dorks trapping through campus with picket signs instead of pick axes.
Mainly the problem lies not in the acting but the writing. In the hands of a better scribe, the movie could have been in the upper-eschelons of teen comedies. But for all its faults, it ain't half bad.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Been so busy working on other things I forgot to put this up. So back in May my friend Mesha invited me to participate in this contest from the makers of NaNowrimo called
Script Frenzy. The goal was to write 20,000 words of an original screenplay in one month, June 1 through June 30th. You cut and paste your screenplay into the site (first scrambling it so that it looks like a bunch of magical A's) then the site calcuatles your word total and you get this nifty banner. Since I wrote 21,656 words - I'm a winner! And the best part of all - I now have a second feature length script "Darkness Rising" the story of a down-on-her-luck monster hunter who must save NYC from a 10,000 year old beast. Exciting stuff. You'll see it on TriggerStreet in a few months, but for now, enjoy the beauty that is the snazzy banner.
So I came home today and was pleasantly surprised to find a check from the State of New York. So apparently I overpaid and they were kind enough to rectify the situation. Yay money!
And speaking of money, went to Barnes & noble at lunch and found a copy of Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles on the bargain shelf for a whopping $4.98. It's quit exciting - filled with pen and pencil drawings of proto-Kermit, Rowlf, Big Bird and hundreds of other oddities, not to mention facts about his life, childhood and ideas to shape the future. I can't believe this was on the bargain shelf. It's Jim Henson! For only FIVE BUCKS!
With all the money I saved today, I'm putting it towards my Buy New Computer 'Cause This One's About to Up and DIE Fund. A most worthy cause indeed.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
"Wow, this totally doesn't suck."
Followed by -
"Starscream is freakin' awesome! YEAAHHHH!"
So Michael Bay did not butcher my childhood. Whew. Good to know there is at least one 80s icon that Hollywood cannibalized but in a good way. I now entrust them with all sequels. And there WILL be sequels - you can see the word FRANCHISE fly across the screen. Along with product placements for Hasbro, Burger King, XM Satellite, GMC...
Yes, Transformers is a thin veil for toys and mass consumerism, but it was OUR mass consumerism dang it. And I loved every minute of it. I mean come on, it's robots that can turn into tanks. And cars. And jeeps. And dinosaurs! Robot dinosaurs! Best. Idea. EVER. If they put this in the sequel, man that will be sweet.
But the thing itself is nearly overshadowed by the crazed fans OF the things. OMG people are nuts. Type in "Transformers" into Google or wikipedia, and you will find pages, of pages, of, I kid you not, TRIBUTES to the characters. Really indepth tributes. Scary in their knowledge.
Exhibit A - the Soundwave Tribute Page.
Now I love Soundwave as much as the next child of the 80s, but I ain't writing a tome on the boy. I mean, this person knows about Soundwave's MOM. Did you know he had a mom? Neither did I! Good grief these folks are nuts!
Exhibit B - The Allspark. On eBay. eBay! You too can have a piece of Cybertron history for only --wait for it--$40K!
Yeah the money goes to charity, but who the heck buys this stuff? (Actually my question is really, - how big is it? Judging by the $14.95 shipping price, it's like, Rubix Cube size!
Human size would be kind of cool. Rubix size is just kinda lame.
Exhibit C - Cracked's "7 Most Useless Transformers Ever."
Unlike the last two exhibits, this one is funny Ha-ha, not funny sad. And funny it is. (Sorry Perceptor, but you really are useless. Nifty, but useless.)
Makes me wonder, who are these people? And how did they amass such pointless knowledge? And will they be part of my fan base when "Xia" comes out? I sincerely hope so. Because seeming people in jogtha suits would be awesome.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Who doesn't love them? Especially memories of shows from bygone years.
Nostalgia is a magical place memories of childhood exist forever encased in the cocoon of perpetual coolness.
But nostalgia is a cruel, conniving mistress.
Case in point - "Sonic the Hedgehog." Many permutations of the blue hog with super speed have come and gone, but the best was by far the version dubbed SatAM (for Saturday morning). I often wondered what happened to the show that I got up at 6:30 in the morning to see every freakin' week.
Then bam! I find it in the DVD section of Target. The COMPLETE 26 episode series! Seasons 1 & 2! Visions of Saturday mornings and Lucky Charms flash before my eyes!
But oh man, is this show bad! To my horror I watched as one of the most exciting shows ever slowly reduced itself to a steaming pile of poo. I remember it being AWESOME. I remember the story lines being sublime! I don't remember the story lines sucking, or the animation being choppy and often inconsistent, (look, Snively has a headset! Look, it's gone. Look, it's mysteriously back!) Just bad bad bad.
Yet I continued watching, hoping that it would improve. And while Season 2 definitely ups the ante in production values, the show is no "Animaniacs" which is indeed as fabulous as I remember.
Makes me wonder what "Transformers" will be like.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It's back ladies and gentlemen! The 12th annual screenplay competition Slamdance returns to give screenwriters of all stripes a chance to showcase their burgeoning talent. Entries are due May 18th, 2007 with this year's top prize at $7,000. That's enough to make your indie a reality!
Want more info? Check out: www.slamdance.com
Saturday, April 28, 2007
So for you, my dear readers, I present:
A PRIMER ON ASKING THE QUESTION
1. State your name and your profession.
2. Ask one to two questions MAX that are clearly worded well enough for you to say them before you get up to the mike.
3. Give the responder time to answer the question without arguing, cajoling or looking like you're about to break down.
4. Thank them for their time.
1. Tell them your life story and about how hard it is to break into the industry and the rotten luck you've received for the past 1, 2, 10 years. They've already gone through their own tales of woe and made it, they don't care about your gripes and it makes you look desperate.
2. Think out your question as you attempt to ask them, turning it into a jumbled mess.
3. Ask them to hire you, give them your resume, hire their friend, ask why they haven't agreed to meet with them, etc. It scares them and makes you look like a stalker.
4. Ask them 5 questions in a row that could be answered with a brief conversation with them AFTER the Q&A.
5. Ask them a question that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, why the state of the world is so terrible to them, etc. (Again, see Don't #1)
Remember - they are there to help you, so present yourself in as confident, professional manner as possible. They'll appreciate it and you'll look fabulous.
© 2007 Angela Entzminger
Students and tv/film production hopefuls stood in line at 9 a.m. this morning to attend the
City of New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting second annual Careers in Television Event. Film Office Commissioner Katherine Oliver moderated the program. The esteemed panelists included Darlise Blount, associate producer of BET's "106 & Park;" Melanie Byrd, production manager of the Food Network; Richard Martin, founder and president of Drum Television Network, Inc., David Puente, creator and anchor of EXCLUSIVA for ABC News Now and Yvette Vega, executive producer for PBS' "Charlie Rose."
The show kicked off with an intimate interview with Sway, creator and co-host of "The Wake Up Show" billed on their website as "the most listened to hip-hop radio show on the planet." Sway and co-creator/partner King Tech started their program from Sway's room in his mom's house in Oakland, CA. 11 years later he and Tech continue to host the groundbreaking program, but is also a part of the MTV News Team.
Like many of the aspiring artists in the audience, Sway started from humble beginnings. The youngest of three in a single parent home, Sway did everything he could to see that his dream of giving a voice to the underground hip hop masses would become a reality. Washing dishes, making deliveries for UPS, delivering shrimp, breakdancing for cash on Pier 39, none of these jobs were beneath the talented young man who aspired to be the next Run from Run DMC and Russell Simmons.
With the money he and Tech saved, they took classes in marketing, business and manufacturing and put out their own independent records. They then advanced to radio. When I asked Sway how he got the word out - mind you, this was the late 80s, early 90s before the explosion of viral video and myspace - his answer was grassroots. In other words, guerrilla marketing.
They had from the start loyal listeners who tuned in every week to hear them play the music the mainstream wouldn't touch. Those loyal few told their friends, and the word of mouth campaign began. They created a street team to diseminate information. When artists came to town to appear on their show, they offered to drive them around - took them to hotspots, clubs, concerts, where they could promote their latest albums and themselves. And most important - they were authentic, their genuine selves wherever they went. And they slapped their logo on everything they handed out. These were the tools Sway and Tech used to go from Sway's momma's house to the big time.
It was MTV that courted Sway - three times - before the creator/producer decided to give them a shot. And only if he could stay true to himself. They wanted him, he said, because "The Wakeup Show" was "the ear of the streets." They gave him freedom because he could come to the table with leverage. He had the audience and the artists they wanted. And MTV was openminded enough to see where hip hop was truly coming from.
Along the way, Sway learned many skills, among them: learning people's sense of humor and learning how to relate to people on every level. He also learned to be aggressive, confident and non-confrontational, at first, then be yourself once you have gained credibility and have proven that you have something to offer. He immersed himself in culture, reading up to four newspapers a day, watching the news, reading books both fiction and nonfiction. Keeping his mind open gave him the confidence, and believing in his own self worth enabled him to deal with various people at all levels, because he says, being a black man with confidence is tough in the corporate world. People are instantly afraid of you and speak to you differently, so you have to show people that you can work with them, that you are someone they can trust.
"The more you educate yourself, the better equipped you'll be because you'll know how to react," said Sway.
After a brief intermission Ms. Oliver began the second part of the program by bringing out the panelists for a discussion on how they achieved success in their careers. Ms. Oliver first asked each panelist to describe "their typical day," and the answer for all of them was that in the world of television, there is no typical day. Case in point for Ms. Vega - Monday morning the crew received a call from the White House, requesting for Charlie Rose to interview the President the next day. The interview happened, but not before the team flew Charlie from Las Vegas back to New York, researched everything the President spoke about in the last nine months and made sure that their best production team members were there for the shoot.
What everyone agreed on is the need to do research on your field.
"Learn everything you can about what you're doing and someone will notice," said Ms. Vega.
The other key is being willing to put in the work.
"People think Generation Y doesn't want to work 12 hour days," said Puente. " Prove otherwise - prove you're willing to work." The willingness to work often separates the wheat from the chaff. Many of the panelists started out doing the menial jobs that all up and comers out of college hate - the unpaid production assistant aka gopher positions. But showing up early, staying late, and showing initiative is what gets you noticed, said Ms. Byrd. Some of the other skills required for making it and staying within the industry are being dependable, responsible, on point and being able to and willing to communicate with people. When asked what one should do to break into the industry, and if there is ever an age limit, the panelists responded that one is never too old to be an intern. There will be people younger than you that know less that are your boss, and you may have to "carry around the screwdriver" according to Mr. Martin, in other words, look like you are busy so people think you are, but there is always a way.
"Whatever you choose to do, you need to be passionate about it," said Ms. Byrd. "Many a false move is made by standing still." In other words, don't just stay there and expect something to happen. Make it happen.
© 2007 Angela Entzminger
Friday, April 27, 2007
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL Presents:
The Animated World of John Canemaker
Directed By: John CanemakerContinuing Tribeca's celebration of New York-based independent animators, this program features the work of John Canemaker, a preeminent animation teacher, filmmaker, author and historian, who won an Oscar® for his animated short The Moon and the Son in 2006. A selection of short films spanning Canemaker's career will be shown including Confessions of a Stardreamer, Bridgehampton, The Wizard’s Son, Otto Messmer and Felix the Cat, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, and Bottom’s Dream.
Cast & CreditsJohn Canemaker
Confessions of a Stardreamer :
The Wizard's Son :
Otto Messmer and Felix the Cat :
The Moon and the Son: An Imagine Conversation :
Bottom's Dream :
For tickets log onto: http://www.tribecafilmfestival.org/tixSYS/2007/filmguide/title-detail.php
Women in Animation will present a panel of story editors and writers at their next meeting
at Little Airplane Productions.
The awesome panel will include:
Jeff Borkin from ""
Kristin Martin from "Nate the Great"
Adam Peltzman from "Backyardigans"
Melinda Richards from "Wonder Pets"
There will be a Q&A session at the end where the audience can (as always) pick the guests' creative brains.
When: Wednesday, May 23rd
Time: 6:30 pm - 8:00
Place: Little Airplane Productions at 207 Front St.,
Quick answer? It's not easy!
A myriad of focus group testing, meetings and pitches go into developing a show worthy of the stations demographic- the 17-year-old girl.
We also learned how The-N finds out what's cool and what's not - they go to where the teens are, trolling through MySpace to find the latest up-and-coming band, allowing teens to blog and create avatars on the-n.com, focus groups, and just keeping their eyes and ears open for the latest big thing.
It's pitching season right now, so all of you out there interested in the teen demographic can check out The-N and see if you've got what it takes to create your very own show. Word to the wise- check out their web site, watch their programming, make it fun, fresh, edgy, sexy and relevant, and think of how your pilot can spawn 100 episodes.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Hope you like the new look.
And as always, if you've got a lead on a breaking story in the world of animation - share!
MEMO: CARTOON NETWORK PRESIDENT RESIGNS OVER BOSTON BOMB SCARE BLUNDER
Fri Feb 9 2007 13:56:11 ET
From: Jim Samples
I am sure you are aware of recent events in which a component of an Adult Swim marketing campaign made Turner Broadcasting the unintended focus of controversy in Boston and around the world. I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign. As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch. It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages. As for me, there will be new professional challenges ahead that will make the most of the experiences I've had as part of this remarkable company. Through my 13 years at the company I have found myself continuously in awe of the talented artists and business people surrounding me, from those who realize their vision in creating a cartoon to those who so brilliantly deliver the animation to viewers. I will always cherish the experience of having worked with you. I appreciate the support that you have shown me. As a friend and a fan, I also look forward to seeing your best and most personally fulfilling work yet. Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and each of you deserve nothing less.
Check out the links for more info and late breaking news:
The New York Times
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Dateline: New York, Feb. 7, 2007
Heather Kenyon, Senior Director of Development Original Series, took time out from her busy schedule at Cartoon Network in L.A. to present a series of lost pilots at the School of Visual Arts.
Presented this evening, in order of appearance were:
"Koi Pond" featuring Periwinkle by Aaron Springer
World traveler Periwinkle the platypus tries to do a good deed with disasterous results.
"Kenny and the Chimp" by Tom Warburton
A pre-cursur to the ridiculously successful smash hit "Code Name: Kids Next Door" (now in its 7th season) the tale of Kenny and Chimp is told in Mr. Warburton's now famous style.
"Larry and Steve" by Seth McFarland
A surreal - and very funny - film mainly because of the eerie similarities between the two main characters and "Family Guy," this is the story of how a dog and his stupid man came together.
"Utica Cartoon" by Fran and Will Krause
A hilarious example of how a hot dog eating contest can go horribly, horribly wrong.
"Jeffrey Cat" by Mark O'Hare
Detective Jeff Cat investigates a bizarre crime of man bites dog. Literally.
"Squirrelboy" by Everett Peck
The pilot that would become a series, Rodney squirrel inadvertently sabotages a father/son kite-off.
"Plastic Man" by Andy Suriano
Goofy to say the least, Plastic Man swears to renounce crime by saving the world from a watery menace.
"Welcome to Wackamo" by John McIntrye
A family of moles (I think - I won't lie they were cute but I couldn't tell WHAT they were) experience wacky hijinks when they try to install a fridge in their house...on the VERY high hill.
"Gondola" featuring Periwinkle by Aaron Springer
Periwinkle returns, this time to wreck havoc on unsuspecting vacationers in Venice.
After feasting on these animated delights Ms. Kenyon fielded questions from the eager animators in the audience, and what an audience it was! Those in attendance included Will and Fran Krause, David Levy, Bill Plympton, Nina Paley, Candy Kugel, Linda Beck, Don Duga and (of course) yours truly. Ms. Paley, creator of "Sita Sings the Blues" wondered what the differences were between today's 6 - 11 year olds and small children of previous eras. To everyone's surprise, Ms. Kenyon answered that kids today are more conservative than their predessors. She believes this to be the result of modern parenting techniques, where adults and parents are seen more as friends than authority figures. Children are encouraged to "use their words" and "express their feelings" more openly.
They are also more sensitive to other's feelings, Ms. Kenyon pointed out. As an example, the focus group for the "Squirrelboy" pilot felt that the father was entirely too mean to Rodney, and they also did not understand that he was a pet, not the best friend, which opened up a bizarre series of questions such as "how can a squirrel be a pet?" "Where do you get a pet squirrel?" "Do you know anyone who has a pet squirrel?"
Getting stuck on a single element of a show can be the death of a pilot, even if that element seems relatively simple to adults, thus throwing the whole show into a lurch that the creators and executives never imagined. As another example, one of the reasons that "Plastic Man" failed to connect with kids was because they thought of plastic as hard, ala Tupperware, rather than something with stretchable properties. A weird hang-up for adults, but one that makes sense given the fact that the core audience for the program was born in 2000.
Ms. Kenyon explained the process that goes into a show's creation as well. Once a show is pitched and optioned, it is sent to the legal department, who may spend up to a year working and reworking the contract (the longest Kenyon ever saw was 3). A bible, outline, scripts, boards and a pilot are then created, which can take between eight months to a year themselves.
This means that any cartoon currently on the air is like looking at a time capsule, a view of the world from two years ago. I asked Ms. Kenyon, given the long lead time to create a program, how she is able to tell what will be a viable show in two year's time. She responded that a great idea + a talented person (often someone the network knows well who can create good work) +
excellent execution (i.e. great writing that can sustain a series) will remain standing after the development process is complete.
Which lead to the next topic, a character driven show creates great episodes. A person with a so-so premise can succeed if the characters are interesting and the episodes are noteworthy.
Sustainability is the key here. Network executives are pitched the same ideas over and over, so the ones with good character will stand out (the year they accepted "My Gym Partner is a Monkey" Ms. Kenyon heard close to 22 pitches for shows with monkeys). Needless to say, she's not looking for anymore shows with monkeys! Or aliens or clowns. But she added that one day someone might come in with a show about monkeys in space that work at a circus, and it could be an excellent pitch. The trick, she said, is to not worry so much about what is on now - again, we're looking at the past when watching TV - but to simply ask executives what they want NOW. And what CN wants are character-driven funny shows that appeal to boys ages 6 -11.
At the end of the evening, Ms. Kenyon described trends that she sees in animation, at least pertaining to Cartoon Network. Even today most of the shows on TV are 2-D, primarily because of budget. Also, cartoons will continue to be animated predominatly overseas in countries such as Korea, Taiwan and the Phillipines, again because of hours and budget. But some of the jobs that remain in the U.S. include script writing, boards and directing - a very good thing for future creators like myself.
Out of all the ASIFA events, this one was by far the most entertaining and informative one that I have attended. Ms. Kenyon will return May 6th for the 2007 ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival. When you see her, say hello and enjoy the films and food.
Just don't mention monkeys.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
It has the whole Joseph Campbell spiel going for it-
young protagonist must leave home and go on a fantastic journey, meets colorful and goofy sidekicks, defeats the bad guy, and returns to the real world, thus saving his home from the clutches of a greedy old guy.
But there is one huge problem. Unfortunately, the movie is boring. And not just boring.
Painfully slow. The problem stems not from the cast, an odd conglomeration featuring the talents of Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Robert De Niro and David Bowie (yes, he of the tight pants and glam 80s hair fame of Labyrinth) but from the condescending way it narrates the heart and soul out of the tale.
The story begins with 10-year-old Arthur (Freddie Highmore ) who is living with his Grandma (Mia Farrow) in a quaint old house in the Conneticut countryside during the summer of 1960. We learn from the much over-used narration that Arthur's Grandfather, a colorful explorer who once lived in Africa, disappeared without a trace three years ago. Arthur's absentee parents (are there any other kinds in these types of films?) are in the city, desperately trying to earn a living, but miracously have found a way to send their son to boarding school in England for the summer. Insert logic here for that one.
The trouble begins when a greedy developer arrives, threatening to kick Arthur and Grandma out of the house for failing to pay their bills. Unless Grandfather arrives by noon on Sunday to sign the paperwork, the family will lose their home.
Arthur, being the adventurous child that all children must be in kiddie fantasy movies, sets off to find a treasure hidden in the backyard by his Grandfather before his disappearance. Using clues left behind by the old man and a mystic ritual performed by Africans who literally appear out of nowhere, the plucky kid finds himself shrunk to diminutive stature and joins a group of elvish-like creatures called the Minimoys. But the Minimoys have problems of their own. The Evil M (Mr. Bowie himself) threatens to take over the three kingdoms and the princess needs help retrieving a magic sword out of a rock, etc. etc.
There is literally nothing in this story that we have not seen before, or seen better, in other movies. The animation is spectacular but like ALL recent CGI movies, save for Pixar films and Shrek, this one fails because it assumes that small children must be pandered too and cannot understand story structure unless it is rammed down their throats.
Elements are thrown in for comic relief (a scene in a local bar where Snoop Dogg in Minimoy form jams at the turntables is midly amusing) but overall I looked around to see the primary audience falling asleep in their chairs. Even Bowie, who reprises his type-cast role as Overdressed Weird Guy sitting in a large chair - albeit one made of rubies - can't save this snooze fest.
It's a noble attempt by director Luc Besson. But while The Fifth Element, an equally kooky film, managed to connect everything together at the end with at least a mild semblance of humor, emotion, and common sense, this poor film simple falls flat.
A for effort, D for execution.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Held at Roseland Ballroom, the event featured special guest and 2 time Oscar Award nominee Bill Plympton. Bill gave a sneak peak pencil test of his latest feature, "Idiots and Angels" which will debut in 2008.
Following a round of trivia and a brief documentary chronicling the creation of the Animation Show (which prior to Mike Judge's involvement, featured cartoons solely created by Bill and his partner in crime Don Hertzfeldt) the show began with a hilarious opening remarks segment by that genius of witt Butt-Head, of "Beavis & Butt-Head" fame, followed by several excellent shorts. On the lineup this year:
Rabbit, directed by Run Wrake
Dick and Jane for grown-ups in this hilarious dark comedy about two children who find an idol within a rabbit, and how their greed results in deadly results.
City Paradise - Ottawa winner directed by Gaelle Denis
A young woman from Tokyo moves to London and experiences a heady tripp in her local neighborhood pool.
Everything Will Be Okay - directed by Ron Hertzfeldt
A man slowly loses his mind and all sense of reality in this hilarious take on everyday activities.
Collision - directed by Max Hattler
What war would look like if done using Lite Brite and Magna Doodle.
Nine - directed by Shane Acker
A sci-fi masterpiece that is rumored to be turned into a feature film by Tim Burton.
No Room for Gerold - directed by Daniel Nocke
Four animal roommates decide who will go and who will stay in this reality TV-like short film from France.
Guide Dog - directed by Bill Plymption
Everyone's favorite hapless mutt returns - this time trying out his new gig as a guide for the blind.
Eaux Forte - directed by Remi Chaye
A man's world is turned upside down when a flood ravages his city.
Overtime - directed oury Atlan
A poignant homage to Jim Henson as hundreds of Kermit-like puppets deal with their creator's death.
Game Over - directed by PES
Atari classics are remade in this fabulous short.
Dreams and Desires - directed by Joanna Quinn
Ms. Quinn shows that her talent extends far beyond "Charmin" ads in this hilarious short about a women who dreams of becoming a filmmaker, and uses her sister's wedding to experiment with her art.
Every film on the line-up entertained the audience, who laughed and hollered during the entire proceedings. After the film, Vic the MC presented trivia questions for prizes, including a boxed DVD set of the Animation Show Vols. 1 -2. DVDs, posters and t-shirts are available online at www.animationshow.com.
And as always, they except submissions year around, so for all of you filmmakers out there, send your shorts to:
11684 Ventura Blvd. #778
Studio City, CA 91604
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
The Animation Show - a place of wonder and magic where awesome shorts converge for two nights of spectacular adventure, romance, wonder and horror!
This year, you have TWO, that's right, TWO nights to see this fabulous program:
Thursday January 25th at 8 PM
Friday January 26th at 6:30 AND 9 PM
Tickets are ONLY $12.50 and can be purchased online at www.roselandballroom.com
Or give them a ring at (202) 317-7171
And Bill Plympton, he of "Guide Dog", "Guard Dog" and "Mutant Aliens" will be in attendance for BOTH nights.
239 W 52nd St.
(bet. 8th Ave. & Broadway)
Call for Entries: The Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship
Nickelodeon is offering writing fellowships in live action and animated television to culturally and ethnically diverse, new writers. Participants will have hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas.
The program, developed to broaden Nickelodeon's outreach efforts, provides a salaried position for up to one year. The '07 - '08 cycle is tentatively scheduled to begin in October 2007.
The next submission period runs from January 2 - February 28, 2007. Applications and submission guidelines are available on our website at www.nickwriting.com.
Except it was overbooked and I had to work late. Grr...
But fear not, for there are talks of a second Kodak Showing in the near future.
What, you say? You don't know about Kodak? Well, stick around dear reader, for all will be revealed soon, very soon...