Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dick Arnall

Following Robert Breer's morning screening was a wonderful tribute in memory of Dick Arnall, who sadly died in February this year. It centred around a screening of films, each one meaty and provocative in it's own way. The films were nominated and introduced by people who knew Dick, including his wife, the wonderful Finnish animator Marjut Rimminen. Other contributions came from Gillian Lacey, Robert Bradbrook, Gareth Evans, festival director Adam Pugh and Jane Pilling. They each had a story to tell and all together painted a picture of Dick that made those who knew him smile and feel a little bit sad and those that didn't know him wish they had.
The films themselves were almost all extraordinary and in the context of the screening, there was a conduicive air of concentration in the cinema. They included Jerzy Kucia's Przez Pole (Across the Field) from 1992, Patrick Bokanowski's La Plage from 1991 and Santiago Alvarez's film LBJ (1967)

Tommorrow I head off for a day trip to Bradford for the first day of BAF.
Robert Breer at Aurora

Here is a picture of David Curtis talking to Robert Breer on Saturday afternoon.

I only had one day at Aurora, but it was full to the brim with good things. Robert Breer had been there for the whole festival. He's very hard of hearing, but it just meant that no-one could interrupt one of his great stories and if a long winded question came his way, he just chose a word and ran with it. It was encouraging to listen to a person so contented with work and life who has made a film every year for 40 years. We saw a programme of his later films in the morning, this included LMNO, Bang, Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons and What goes up.
The films have no narrative continuity, but a definate shape and structure and I enjoyed trying to think of them more as paintings with a few basic elements that arrive from front to back and in layers, which you can piece together, not necessarily there and then but later as well. David Curtis asked him how he went about starting a film, to which he answered that he enjoyed feelings of a heightened sensibility, looking forward to something that's unpredictable and not knowing the outcome. The only thing that he knew was that he would avoid suggestions of narrative and continuity, not only to emphasise the plastic nature of the work but also because our daily experiences are fragmented in that way.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pojd'te Pane

November is unofficially my month of animation, and thanks to a tip off from Shelly, Simon and their three small friends from Hackney, we had an outing to see some Pojar films at the Riverside together.
We watch Pojd'te Pane once a week here at home, we take it like a tonic, but seeing the bears in a cinema with a audience of Czech under fives was truly joyous and revealing. We could see the selotape and the fluff here and there and owing to the peals of laughter, I could tell there's a funny joke about the way that Mister and Mister speak to each other. There were also two other films, both with a message about pets: don't overfeed your dog, it will turn into an elephant and don't leave your cats on their own with your paints out. At the end there was a disco in the bar but by then we'd peaked for sure.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jan Lenica

There's a rare chance to see a film by the wonderful animator Jan Lenica.
UBU ET LA GRANDE GIDOUILLE, directed by Jan Lenica in 1979, is going to show at Cine Lumiere, 17 Queensberry Place,
London SW7 2DT on 7th November at 9pm.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Old Man has won a book

He's won best animation at the Flip festival in Wolverhampton and the prize is Paul Wells's new book on scriptwriting. I'm very pleased. I couldn't go up again yesterday because I was doing a workshop in Bracknell but I would have loved another trip to Wolverhampton. Thank you Flip.
Thanks to The Old Man (film) I'm getting out a bit. Last week I went to participate in Drawing in the Digital, a symposium organised by Ross Winning from the School of Art & Design at Wolverhampton University. I left my pen at home so most of my thoughts will be from memory. The symposium intended to assess the impact of digital technology on animation today via the musings of Paul Wells, Erica Russell, Dew Harrison, Tim Webb and me. Sadly Alys Hawkins couldnt' make it at the last minute, I would liked to have met her and seen her films in the cinema. Paul was first, and really whooped everyone up, I remember that he was great but I was straight after him and the pen was at home, so I remember nothing of his presentation, except 'Roof sex', one of the Twisted films of the PES collective. I presented my work and talked about wet watercolour, paper and brushes. Dew Harrison brought up the subject of artists and digital media in the context of PVA Labculture. Tim Webb made Mr Price with a computer and is senior tutor in animation at the RCA. He suggested that digital technology had some disadvantages in the production process: putting off decisions, and movement for the sake of it. At the Royal College of Art, they make the same number of stop frame animation films as they did 12 years ago. (I imagine that's unusual). He talked about the Hungarian animator Peter Foldes 1974 film Hunger, and showed The (also wonderful) Wolfman by Tim Hope. After lunch, the very dynamic Erica Russell gave us some insight into her background and practice. She made the Oscar nominated Feet of Song in 1988. Liam Scanlan has the longest CV I've ever seen and told us that with a little determination, you could be in charge of about a hundred render farms on a Star Wars set.

Clive Walley, Paul Wells, Erica Russell and Liam Scanlan on the Flip stage.

There was alot of chat over the day about the physical aspects of animation, and can it be replicated, will the tools improve, will it be missed etc. The anxiety seemed inevitable because the panel were older, mostly working with traditional tools, and were conscious of talking to an audience of students who seemed comfortable with moving between traditional and digital techniques.

The day was rounded off by a screening of Clive Walley's films. Sadly I had to jump on a train and only saw Prelude, which was smashing. I had a lovely day, it was brilliant to meet so many great animators all at once and the Flip festival is very much worth a visit.