Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blender project "Sintel" released

The rather extensive team over at the Blender Open Movie Project have finally wrapped on their latest production, Sintel:

Not a bad effort, and a definite improvement in story, animation, and rendering, over previous efforts from this project: Elephant's Dream and Big Buck Bunny (of which I thought Elephant's Dream was the better of the two)

The sound in Sintel is spot on, they got some great voice talent. One thing that's been made apparent to me is the importance of good voice talent. Of the single aspect of production that a solo producer needs some outside help on is the voice talent. (It also helps if you record it before you animate... and before the script is completely finished ;) Despite what others might tell you: you CAN write the script, storyboard, concept art, model, animate, render, fx, music and sound fx and edit an entire film by yourself. I did it. M Dot. Strange did it. Jeff Lew did it. Dan and Matt O'Donnel did it. But trust me on the voice acting bit: I've found a great crew of actors who have contributed to the new sound mix for Archon, and recording for my next film A Call to Minds.

The story in Sintel is a bit predictable; I called the 'twist ending' halfway through the short, and I was sadly correct. I hate when that happens, and it happens a lot with the CG animated shorts I see. Luckily, they stayed away from the cliche "it was all a kid's dream" ending. Other than this one nitpicky criticism, Sintel is a great animation, and proves that Blender , Open Source software solutions, and independent filmmakers are now ready to stick it to the big studio devil worshiping media clog-comerates.

The next Blender project should be a full length feature film, produced in under two years of production from script to premiere, to show that the system is capable and ready to the challenge. All it will take is a director (or more of a dictator) to reign in the unruly mob of artists who worked on Sintel and crack the whip to get a feature length film.

The demand is there, and the audience is waiting:

If I can do it, working alone and having to do everything myself, then surely a team of talented artists can manage it. (How many people worked on Sintel... I lost count after 10... so the movie should be 80 minutes long as it is :P ...)

As Lloyd Kaufman would advise: make your own damn movie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Upcoming events

Archon Defender will be screening at the 2010 Moving Image Film Fest (MIFFest 2010) on Sat Oct 16 at the Toronto Underground Cinema 186 Spadina Ave., (screening time and details to follow...)

I'll be there for a Q&A session after the screening. Come out an see the all new digitally remastered professional voice actors director's cut special edition of my award winning solo produced feature length animated film.

I'll be showing some of the storyboard art of Archon Defender this Sat Nov 25 at the Face Bomb art show, being held at the 'Laugh It Off' comedy club, 1414 King St E (King & Townline), Oshawa, ON 7 pm - 11 pm.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Too many movies being made" says top TIFF stiff...

For some reason I've been getting a Toronto Star newspaper thrown onto my front yard for the last 3 mornings. I remember this happening about the same time last year, and when I called them up to complain that I wasn't about to start paying for their newspaper, they mentioned it was a promotion due to the Toronto International Film Festical (TIFF).

Flipping through the Star today, I come across this article, where top TIFF chief Piers Handling says that too many Canadian feature films are being made. (You could extend this sentiment easily beyond Canada, and say that too many films are being made worldwide...)

He’s particularly concerned about the rising number of Canadian feature films, which he doesn’t think our domestic industry or audience can properly support.

One thing you can certainly count on is for lack of support from the TIFF Film Festicle for independent artists. The TIFF festicle has come under increasing criticism by production blogs, and from people I've met and talked with at other festivals, of becoming an elitist red carpet affair, catering to the big studios and pandering to the celebrities. Kind of a Sundance North. Archon Defender got rejected from the fest this year, and I even sent them the copy with the new voiceovers.

They still took my entrance fee for TIFF though. This is where Mr. Handling becomes a bit of a hypocrite. He should relish the thought of more filmmakers making more films, and being idealistic, fatalistic, or outright foolish enough to submit their films to TIFF. That $50 entry fee can add up pretty quick. Granted, when I talked with the good folks down at the Dragon Con Film Fest, they said that they're not exactly getting rich off the entry fees. But I suspect that Mr. Handling has been handling more than one Starbucks Latte care of my entry fee 'donation'.

“We shouldn’t be making 250 feature films in this country. I don’t think it can sustain. Where are those films going? I mean, are they just home movie productions done on credit cards? For what audience?"

To paraphrase Lloyd Kaufman in his bestselling book "Make Your Own Damn Movie"; The filmmaking buisness is a terrible way to make money, you're better off working as a janitor or in a garbage dump, and your motivation to make a film had better be for the drive and desire to see your cinematic vision come alive on the screen for yourself foremost and to entertain your audience. Lloyd, and Troma entertainment, embody the true sense of independent filmmaking and artistic expression. Which is why Lloyd and Troma are persona non grata in the film "industry" The title of Lloyd's book sums up the message concisely: Make your own damn movie, whatever it takes, and no matter how terrible it turns out.

Archon Defender has 287,000 views on Youtube as of right now as I type this. I've won 4 awards for it, plus my latest film Tales from the Afternow which screened at Dragon Con... and won for best animated Sci Fi at Dragon Con. Guess what, I'm still not rich and famous from it, but that wasn't the point of making either films... And I'm in pre-production for the follow-up to Archon... Why? Because I want to make the films, for myself first of all, and for all of you to watch and be inspired. And hopefully some of you will also be inspired to make your own films (so I'll finally have some cool shit to watch besides the crap that the turkey farm churns out)

So to Mr Piers Handling, in response to your questions:
  1. The films are going to the internet.
  2. Yes. Home productions. Everyone can make a film. And you don't need to use your credit card either.
  3. For what audience? Everyone except you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dragon Con 2010

I'm fresh back from Dragon*Con 2010, where my short "Tales From the Afternow" was screening in the Dragon Con Independent Film Festival. 4 crazy days of geek fest in the warm and sunny Atlanta GA.

I've been a long time fan of Troma films, I even have an old VHS copy of the Toxic Avenger still kicking around somewhere... Lloyd Kaufman and Troma have always embodied the true independent spirit of filmmaking. Troma films are horrible. Horribly entertaining, horribly fun to watch, and horribly inspiring. If they can make films, anyone can, which is the whole point. If you let yourself be limited by lack of experience, skill, or resources stop you from just going ahead and creating your film, then you're never going to get it done, and the only way to improve your skills at it is to just jump in feet first and make films. Lloyd, and Troma, are kind of the persona non grata of the film world, because they expose the 'biz' for what it is; they show that filmmaking is not some dark occult ritual requiring esoteric knowledge and deep pockets, that it's accessible to everyone, more so now than ever, now with the tools and technologies available.

Here's Lloyd's panel talk from Dragon Con 2010, where he talks about the history of Troma films, upcoming projects, independent filmmaking, and the importance of net neutrality:

Oops.. oh yes ;) I suppose I should mention that "Tales from the Afternow" won the award for "First Place - Animated Science Fiction"