Posts Tagged ‘Animated Short Film’

Don Hertzfeldt on ‘World of Tomorrow’

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Image source: http://thefilmexperience.net/

Independent animator and filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt has just released his latest short, titled ‘World of Tomorrow’, on Vimeo on Demand after having screened it at film festivals like Sundance and SXSW. For those who don’t know Hertzfeldt, he is most well known for his short “Rejected Cartoon’s”, a surreal film in which various cartoon adverts for “The Family Learning Channel” are played back to back. The cartoons eventually begin to fall apart and lose sense and structure, a reflection of the fictional artist’s own descent into madness.

‘World of Tomorrow’ follows a young girl, played by Hertzfeldt’s own four-year-old niece Winona, on a journey through the memories of her future self. Don describes the character as “Mary Poppins but with part of her brain missing” in a recent Reddit AMA promoting the film. When asked about what is was like to work with his niece, Hertzfeldt said “I don’t know why I was ever under the impression I could direct a 4-year-old.”

“She wouldn’t even recite lines back to me. Everything she says in the film is just her being herself while we hung out and talked about the world…”. He later went on to say that he ended up using an iPad app to record her, and rewrote parts of the script to match her dialogue. Hertzfeldt mentioned working with these limitations was sort of fun, having to improvise the animation along with her dialogue.

On the subject of the creative process, Hertzfeldt described it as if “…you’re floating in an ocean, and you want to build a raft. So you just float there and you wait and wait. And eventually this little piece of something comes drifting by, maybe a memory, and you hang on to it, and then another little piece comes around, it is unrelated, maybe it’s a funny sentence you overheard somewhere…”. He says more and more pieces drift by and you collect them until you have enough to build a raft, and eventually you have to make a decision.

Which pieces are essential for the raft and which aren’t? Writing a story is very similar to his raft idea, you collect ideas and see what works well together and toss whatever doesn’t help the story, or raft, float. He also notes that he doesn’t spend a lot of time “swimming around, or (doing) calculation(s)…”, saying stressing over details or trying to figure things out is like poison for creativity, “The big ideas won’t happen right when you mentally stress on them… It is more a matter of being patient and being open to all the things that just drift in.”.

Don was asked about why he chose to release ‘World of Tomorrow’ on Vimeo on Demand, and he responded by saying “It’s a bit of a risk, I’ve traditionally funded everything else through theatrical tours and DVDs, and most people will tell you there’s no market for shorts online. But if we continue to believe that without ever trying to do anything to challenge it nothing will change, right?”. He praised Vimeo’s ability to allow him to update his videos throughout the 30-day rental period, saying he could improve picture quality by using better compression methods, or replace the footage altogether.

He’s come to like the 30-day rental concept, regarding it as a 30-day movie ticket, where you can watch the film as many times as you wish and get more out of it. With the knowledge that the film will disappear after a set time, and that we won’t actually own it, it turns into more of an experience and less of a fleeting though like many of today’s films. “What if after the end of the 30 days I deleted all of the master files and removed it from theaters and the film will forever only exist in our memories? Isn’t that kind of beautiful? Ok I won’t do that.”.

Someone asked why ‘he didn’t just post the video to YouTube for free and use their algorithm to generate revenue’ to which Hertzfeldt answered, “Vimeo gives the filmmakers a 90% share, which I think is unprecedented. They also seem to genuinely care about presentation. YouTube gets more traffic than anybody, but they are sort of eating themselves alive with advertising.”. Since Don is an independent, he has to sustain himself and as such has started to sell his shorts and films through platforms such as Vimeo.

“For the survival of young short-film makers and aspiring animators today, we really need to begin training people to pay for short films. Theatrical tours and DVD sales and the old models that I relied on are not going to be realistic much longer for them (or even for me).” He notes that the free YouTube model the public is growing fond of is hurting independent filmmakers, its teaching the newer generations of artists that their work has no value and that their “silly” personal projects should just be dumped online for free.

Unfortunately, the “free” model isn’t exactly viable for most people working on their own as Hertzfeldt does, “… if they’re lucky it will attract an advertising gig to pay the bills. And maybe make one more “personal project” that they can do on the side again. It’s not a good cycle.”. Don then began to speak about how he was on the Sundance Jury a few years ago, he watched amazing short films and independent productions that were met with great praise from the jury and festival attendees alike. Unfortunately, these same films would later fade into obscurity after their festival screenings, with little to no funds for a theatrical or physical release and with the creators reluctant to upload their films for fear of having them circulated for free, these films often disappear.

He says, “…many filmmakers aren’t even bothering with the internet… ‘Getting exposure’ doesn’t fund films. When you pay to see a movie you are casting a vote. You are saying, hey please go make more of this sort of thing.”. Everyone knows that Hollywood is a machine that makes money, and all it wants to do is make more money. People tend to bemoan and complain about the string of bad movies we’re forced to watch in between the few gems, and yet they line up to see them, casting their votes for more bad movies to be made. Nobody is forcing people to watch the “bad” movies, but they go and watch them anyway. However, when people pay to see independent movies they are saying, “hey i’d like you to actually have the chance to go make another one.”.

Hertzfeldt announced he was working on a new feature length film as well, ‘Antarctica’, saying the only thing holding it back at present was paperwork. He mentioned he will continue to make more shorts leading up to the new film. Finally, when asked on how he defines art Hertzfeldt said, “Anything artificial that is intended to produce an emotional reaction.”.

You can see some of Don’s shorts on his channel at YouTube, watch his short ‘World of Tomorrow’ on Vimeo on Demand, and check out his website. If you’d like to find out more, including Don’s favorite ice cream flavor and his opinion on David Lynch, you can read the full AMA here.

The Leviathan

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Art by Jim Murray, creature design by Jordu Schell

The Leviathan is a short which has been making the rounds on the internet lately. Made as a proof-of-concept by Irish director Ruairí Robinson, the short features stunning visuals and fantastic animation. Robinson created the short as a pitch to major movie studios in hopes of having it become a feature length film. It was created with the aid of the Irish Film Board and Jim Uhls, who wrote the script to ‘Fight Club’.

The story is set in the 22nd century, where humans have colonized many worlds. Faster-than-light travel has been made available, however, the only viable fuel source for this kind of travel uses exotic material from the eggs of the largest species humankind has ever seen. Those who go out to hunt the animals are mostly voluntary labor.

I’d love to see the short turned into a full length movie; perhaps they could delve deeper into the back story. How was interstellar travel developed? How did they figure out space whale eggs were the perfect fuel source and is there really no alternative?

See the film at the following link: https://vimeo.com/122368314

Lucasfilm Animation Artist Advises Cogswell’s Project X

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Adam Holmes, Senior Story & Previs Artist at Lucasfilm Animation, stopped by to critique and offer advice on the latest Project X production at Cogswell College. The current Project X film is in the final stages of production and should begin the film festival submission process by early April.

“I was very impressed with the Hollywood production value of the film and Huber’s leadership and experience is clearly evident,” said Holmes. “The story, music, character design, animation, lighting and FX were well above most college-produced CG projects. In many shots the excellent character animation felt like I was watching a Pixar film! I have high hopes for these students in their careers and this film could be a serious award contender.”

Project X, the brainchild of Cogswell faculty member Michael Zachery Huber, is a course for upper division students and simulates a professional animation studio. In addition to having the opportunity to work on a professional quality short animation and build a high quality portfolio, students also get to network with industry professionals who visit the class to lend their expertise.

Visit the Project X website to learn more about this unique teaching model.


Dragon*Con Film Festival Set to Screen The Offering

Friday, August 20th, 2010

DragonconCogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival. The festival takes place from September 3 to 6, 2010. The Offering will screen on Sunday, September 5, at 10:00AM in the Hyatt Learning Center in Atlanta.

The Dragon*Con Film Festival is a combination of short and geature independent film screenings, celebrity guest panel discussions, concerts, contests and seminars. Each year the festival focuses on showcasing the finest independent short films of the fantastic. It welcomes not only Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror films, but Mysteries, Thrillers, Film Noirs, Erotica, Alternate lifestyle, Comedies and any other films of the imagination that step out of the slice-of-life category including short animated films of all types.

Dragon*Con 2009 attracted 35,000+ attendees, including over 400 entertainment industry professionals. Located in downtown Atlanta within the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis complex, Dragon*Con has received extensive media coverage on CNN (based four blocks from the event), NPR, all major network news affiliates, over 60 international on-line news feeds and nearly all radio and print media in the Atlanta area.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Wins Best Animation Award at Route 66 Film Festival

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Route66Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has received the Best Animation Award at the upcoming Route 66 Film Festival. The Festival takes place from September 17 to 19, 2010 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois.

The mission of the Route 66 Film Festival is to support and recognize independent filmmakers of all ages and backgrounds. The general theme of the festival is journey, whether emotional, physical, spiritual or personal. Moviemaker magazine listed the Route 66 Film Festival as one of the 25 festivals worth the entry fee in the spring 2008 issue, citing the low fees and the opportunity to have short films and interviews aired on the cable-access show “Watch My Shorts.” The Route 66 Film Festival began in 2002 as a part of the Mother Road Festival celebrating the vehicles and history of the famous highway.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected For Screening at the Rochester International Film Festival

Monday, April 5th, 2010

RochesterCogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 52nd Annual Rochester International Film Festival. The festival takes place from April 22 to 24, 2010. All films selected to screen at the festival receive the prestigious “Shoestring Trophy.”

The Offering will screen on April 24 in the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography during the 4PM program. Film Production Manager, Lilly Vogelesang, will attend the screening and participate in the Q&A session following the screening.

The Rochester International Film Festival – the world’s oldest continuously-held short film festival – has been produced each year since 1959 by Movies on a Shoestring, Inc. Each festival includes a wide variety of narrative films, documentaries, and animations submitted by independent filmmakers from all parts of the world. By 1971 Movies on a Shoestring had firmly established itself among the world’s leading amateur festivals and changed its name to the Rochester International Amateur Film Festival. The worldwide growth of film schools and of the film industry in general led to a great increase in the number of professional quality short films being produced and competing for spots in the festival, so in 1996 ‘amateur’ was dropped and the festival became known as the Rochester International Film Festival.

To provide independent filmmakers even greater public exposure, beginning in 1972, selected films from each year’s festival have been assembled into a traveling show called “The Best of the Fest.” The traveling show is loaned, free of charge, to organizations around the state.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected For Screening at the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

LakeArrowheadCogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 11th Annual Lake Arrowhead Film Festival. The festival takes place from April 22 to 25, 2010.

Since its inception in 1999, The Lake Arrowhead Film Festival has developed a reputation among independent filmmakers as one of the friendliest and most inviting film festivals around.

We have grown steadily, and along the way, we have honored some of the film industry’s most accomplished performers. Past honorees include those with local ties, such as June Lockhart, Christopher McDonald, Ernie Hudson and Vincent Spano, as well as distinguished families such as the Kirk Douglas family (Kirk, Michael, and Joel) and the John Carradine family (John, David, Keith and Robert). Others who have received awards in the past few years include Gena Rowlands, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Eric Roberts, Beau Bridges and Joe Mantegna.

Festival seminars have been led by such dignitaries as producers Harry Sherman and Chrisann Verges, director Joe Sargent, cinematographers Laslo Kovacs, Bill Fraker, Donald M. Morgan, James A. Cressanthis and Vilmos Zsigmond to name a few.

In 2007, we launched the festival’s new thematic direction: “The Lake Arrowhead Film Festival: Film, Television and Beyond.” We have all witnessed changes in the way that films are produced, financed, marketed and screened. At the LAFF, we embrace these changes and look forward to the exciting new films that will result from these innovations.

For the 2010 festival, we have added a new element and will be seeking films made by or about Native Americans. We will be awarding the “Cruz A. Chacon Award for Excellent Achievement in Film” for the first time ever.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected For Screening at the Fallbrook Film Festival

Monday, March 15th, 2010

FallbrookCogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 3rd Annual Fallbrook Film Festival. The festival takes place from April 9 to 11, 2010.

The Fallbrook Film Festival evolved out of the Fallbrook Film Factory whose goal is to expose the art of filmmaking to all people, be it the young person trying to learn filmmaking or the adult who’s in another career but wants to explore filmmaking. During the Festival the Factory will sponsor a variety of filmmaking workshops that will be conducted by industry professionals who share their knowledge with aspiring filmmakers. In the spirit of the Fallbrook Film Factory, the workshops will be designed for everyone from independent filmmakers to hobbyists and students.

Until recently there were huge barriers to theatrical filmmaking. The cost to produce was prohibitive, typically in the millions, and the equipment, the know-how, and the processes were available only to a privileged few. Today, independent filmmaking is flourishing like never before and there are in fact many distribution outlets coming on line to serve this niche market. It was therefore a natural progression for the Factory to produce a film festival where emerging new filmmakers could showcase their work in a public venue.

Our special award this year will be the first annual “Frank Capra Award” presented by Frank Capra III for the most “Capraesque” submission- a film which lifts the human spirit . Frank Capra the beloved director of the classic holiday favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” was a long time resident of Fallbrook during the heyday of his career and he has made lasting contributions to our area.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Receives Canada International Film Festival Award

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

CanadaCogswell College is pleased to announce that its short animated film, The Offering, has been chosen to receive the Rising Star Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the 2010 Canada International Film Festival in Vancouver. The festival takes place from March 19 to 21 at the Stadium Club Theater in the beautiful Edgewater Casino in downtown Vancouver.

The film was produced under the auspices of Project X, a unique curriculum design that delivers the learning experience based on a professional studio model. Under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator, Michael Huber, students take the film from concept to post production. The class is only available at Cogswell College. Students, selected through a portfolio review and interview process, worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality, short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

Although the film will not be one of the 27 films screened publicly at the festival, the judges felt that The Offering was among the very best of the several hundred films submitted from over 30 countries and deserved special recognition.

The Canada International Film Festival has already established itself as one of the top film festivals in Canada. Its goal is to foster the creative interaction amongst independent filmmakers and audiences. Culturally diverse, with a strong independent film community, Vancouver is the ideal city for such a festival and consistently attracts talented filmmakers from around the globe.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement