23 December 2008

The Life Size Zoetrope on Directors Notes

I've just discovered a lovely in-depth interview with Mark Simon Hewis and MarBelle on Directors Notes. The interview focuses on the production process behind Mark's 2007 AnimateTV commission The Life Size Zoetrope and I'm pleased to say Mark speaks quite positively about the experience. You can listen to and download the podcast here.

The Life Size Zoetrope is showing next at the ICA in the 6th London Short Film Festival on 18 January.

Image: The Life Size Zoetrope, Mark Simon Hewis

18 December 2008

Arts Council England commission animated Christmas Card by Animate's own Suky Best

We are thrilled that the Arts Council commissioned Suky Best to make a wonderful animated Christmas card. You can watch it here.

They made this wise decision having seen Suky's AnimateTV 2008 film Early Birds.

17 December 2008

The Year of Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Following on from Jacqui's account of her trip to Thailand for the Primitive shoot, Keith Griffiths has written an interesting piece here on the Illuminations blog about Apichatpong and the Primitive project.

12 December 2008

Inventorium - the Brothers Quay...

Also in Brighton, for another week, the chance to catch the Quay Brothers triple-value show at the University of Brighton, part of the excellent Cine City film festival (though the festival itself is done..).

There's a Polish film poster show, including posters from the Quays' own collection and the University's archive. There's their first installation made specifically for gallery - Eurydice - She, so beloved - a film projection and 'optical box' - made with Opera North and commissioned by Capture - dark and brooding.

And...the fabulous Dormitorium - about 17 wunderkabinets that allow us, literally, a peek into the worlds that they've created. They are everything you'd imagine an exhibition of Quay Brothers cabinets should be, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go see them...  Fantastic!

They've also snuck in a showreel of some of their commercial work - including a sequence from Julie Taymor's Frida, as well as, unexpectedly, adverts for Skips and Dulux Wood, which are, really, very good indeed.

Their Animate film, The Phantom Museum, is here.

On Overgrown Paths - Ben Rivers

Just this weekend left to catch Ben Rivers' top-notch show at Permanent Gallery in Brighton, developed in collaboration with Measure. At two venues, three films showing on 16mm in three 'self-built' cabins. I think that means Ben built them, not that they built themselves.

Ben's films are uneasy portraits of people living at a remove from the rest of us, in places at a remove from where we find ourselves. And presenting them in these strange and evocative structures gives a magical sense of 'dwelling'. It's effective and affecting. Not least because it evokes the inevitable unease of coming across cabins in the woods...

Image: This is My Land, Ben Rivers

9 December 2008

Little Big Screen

Read John Wyver's blogpost about animateprojects.org here.

7 December 2008

The Song of...Bernadette

Bernadette is a brilliant and haunting new film (or 'video for projection') - a 'portrait' of Bernadette Devlin - by Glasgow based, Dublin born artist, Duncan Campbell, showing at Hotel gallery, London, until 18/1/2009.

More here.

18 November 2008


Recently I discovered Submarine Channel, a site that regularly trawls the internet for the freshest talent and quirkiest sites the world has offer, as well as showcasing their many cross-media projects. We were flattered to discover that they had included us in their Top 10 curated online video portals, where you can add your opinion on who you think should be in the Top 10. And they ran a short news feature on our AnimateTV commission Damaged Goods.

Recent works they've picked up on their radar: microblogging community Seesmic, the archival delights of Europa Film Treasures and the latest Toshiba Timesculpture advert. Also, it transpires that they are behind the wonderful site Forget the Film, Watch the Titles, which showcases the often under appreciated craft of film title design. Plus, they've got not one, but two interview sections: text based interviews including Second Life filmmaker Douglas Gayeton, film title designer Karin Fong and (one of my favourite animators) Motomichi Nakamura; and video interviews featuring creative folks such as Special FX masters DDT and human sculpture enthusiast Erwin Wurm. And they've even got a shop.

SubmarineChannel - subscribe and let them do the scoping for you.

17 November 2008

Thomas Hicks

Thomas Hicks has just started to keep a blog about the production of his new AnimateTV 2009 commission Unicycle Film, including shots of the work in progress. The film is due to be completed in summer 2009.

In the meantime, Thomas Hicks has a solo exhibition at the Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight, opening on 22 November entitled Dark City, Lonely Circus. The exhibition focuses on Thomas' working process and includes pre-production drawings for the Unicycle Film project, as well as handmade zoetropes, animation frames, sketchbooks, and a recreation of Hicks' own printing desk. The exhibition runs until 10 January.

You can also check out Thomas' previous work here on Vimeo.

Image: Unicycle Film, Thomas Hicks (production still)

13 November 2008

Aurora! Aurora! Aurora!

The festival's already underway..but we'll be there soon ourselves!  AnimateTV live launch is Friday evening. And there's much much more. We are very excited and wish Adam and Kelly all the best.

Drawn to Life programme...in Brussels...

Drawn to Life is a couple of terrific programmes screening in Brussels at the end of November that are right up our street, though not literally. Featuring Animate commissioned artists Stuart Hilton and Jonathan Hodgson..though not their actual Animate films. And lots of other key things too - it's a rare juxtaposition of artists coming from different places - just the kind of eclectic and provocative mix we like. The programme notes and links are well worth bothering with - on curator Stoffel Debuysere's blog, which is well worth exploring . 

Image: The Simpson Verdict, Kota Ezawa

12 November 2008

Call for papers: Archives and Auteurs conference

The University of Stirling is looking for proposals for their 'Archives and Auteurs: Filmmakers and their archives' conference taking place on 2–4 September 2009. The conference will bring archivists, academics, curators and researchers together to discuss the ways in which study of the archives of filmmakers and the film industry can provide new perspectives and insights into the history of cinema.

They are looking for proposals in the following areas:
- archives, authorship and the directorial impulse
- the transition from page to screen – evidence in the archives for artistic challenges and compromised visions
- new perspectives on classic films
- practical issues relating to the management and preservation of the archives of filmmakers
- personal experiences of working with the archives of filmmakers
- current issues, projects and initiatives in the field of cinema history

Papers should be 20 minutes in length.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent in a MS Word file to Professor John Izod (k.j.izod@stir.ac.uk) by Friday 20 February 2009.
Abstracts will be reviewed externally and contributors will be informed of the outcome by Friday 13th March 2009.

See the University of Stirling website for more details.

Vertigo magazine - new issue out now...

..and it includes a review of the British Animation Awards dvd Desire and Sexuality - Animating the Unconscious (perhaps a title that doesn't sit easy on a christmas present list), and a beautiful spread of some stunning images from Emily Richardson's Cobra Mist.

As ever it is also packed with vital stuff - check out the contents. Then buy it and read it.

11 November 2008

Glover - Jo Lawrence, animator in residence at the V&A

I am keeping tabs on Jo Lawrence's blog - she's animator-in-residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum. That in itself seems like a very enlightened but risky notion, but from Jo's blog, it is clearly paying off hugely. She's obsessed. And she's making a film. And it's about gloves. She is discovering lots of fascinating stuff in the museum, and saying very interesting things about it all. I'm excited and a little scared about seeing the film she comes up with. 

You can see Jo's film Glow on 4mations here.  

Still: Glow, Jo Lawrence

7 November 2008

InterventTech: >> news and threads: Ekow Eshun closes Live & Media Arts at the ICA

InterventTech: >> news and threads: Ekow Eshun closes Live & Media Arts at the ICA

The debate continues...

British animation: The Channel 4 factor

Clare Kitson commissioned animation for Channel 4 from 1989 to 1999, and her book is a personal and authoritative review of the period, bracketed with a bit of the before, and observations about the current state of play.

But the book is no wallow in a subjective history. Clare is scrupulous and questioning about all that kind of stuff. Her charting of the early days of Channel 4 is informative and evocative of the ambition and freedom of those times. And her perspective on how things have gone since her departure is considered, and where critical, recognises context and realities. 

But what's really great is what takes up most of the book - in depth, well illustrated essays on 30 key works - jam packed with facts and reflections - and providing unique insight into the processes of making animated films.  And if only one of these is an Animate film, then I'm consoled that 11 of them are made by people commissioned by Animate to make other films. 

The book is an invaluable, important, essential contribution. It gives a terrific sense - both in broadcasting and individual productions - of how things work.

From my own time at the Arts Council - I started working there as the first Animate films were being delivered - one of the things I remember about Clare is her generosity and risk-taking in accepting/trusting the opinion of others - at least in areas where she felt she lacked particular experience or expertise. So I'm sure she'll allow a couple of record straightening comments. 

I didn't simply 'migrate' from the Arts Council to set up Animate Projects - they'd made me redundant six months beforehand, and Jacqui and I spent a very uncomfortable couple of months where we cash-flowed things with our own money, looking after projects in production, and launching a new round in good faith, on the words, and promise of contracts, of the Arts Council and Channel 4.

I think Clare overstates Animate's relationship with LUX - they have distribution copies of the films, but the shift to an emphatically 'art' agenda for the broader Animate 'project' was something that Dick Arnall and the Animate freelancers forged ahead with, following an Arts Council review.  

And I can't agree that "British art animation in a fragile state". Funding certainly is, and as a result, the tradition of 'arthouse', independent animation is in a period of drought...but animation is a vital and flourishing aspect of current visual arts practice. And terms like 'fringe' and 'marginal' really depend on where you're viewing things from - Animate films have won Baftas and BAAs - and are shown internationally - and not just in 'cutting-edge' categories. But these tele-centric viewpoint lapses (ahem...) are minor and rare, and it feels a bit impertinent to even mention them. Animate's relationship with C4 - with, and since, Clare - has been one of utmost, reciprocal, respect. If only power and money were always in the hands of the ones who love you.

6 November 2008

AnimateTV - screening across the UK

Our latest batch of extraordinary films are screening at Aurora, Encounters, FACT and Tate Modern this autumn.

Catch the latest films by artists Barnaby Barford, Suky Best, Stephen Irwin, Michael Aubtin Madadi, Emily Richardson, Tal Rosner and Christoph Steger on the big screen. Plus, you'll get the chance to quiz the artists about their inspirations, processes, favourite colours etc.

Employing a broad range of techniques from rotoscope to timelapse and exploring a variety of themes, including the decline of the dawn chorus and the ambitions of an outsider artist, together they represent the freshest artistic talent from the UK.

The AnimateTV films premiere at Aurora Festival in Norwich, on Friday 14 November, 6pm, with all the artists present for a Q&A with festival director Adam Pugh.

Then catch the films at:

Encounters Festival, Arnolfini Cinema, Bristol, Saturday 22 November, 5.30pm, with a Q&A led by Arnolfini curator Nav Haq,

FACT, Liverpool, Wednesday 26 November, 6.30pm, Q&A with Kate Taylor (from FACT's AND festival and the London Short Film Festival),

Tate Modern, London, Friday 5 December, 7pm, plus Q&A with all the artists.

To book tickets for these screenings, please visit the venues' websites.

Hope to see you there!

Image: Damaged Goods, Barnaby Barford

31 October 2008

Early cinematic treats at Curzon Soho

Combining a love of early cinema and vaudeville, The Smoking Cabinet returns to the Curzon Soho this December with another packed programme of rare cinematic delights. Highlights include EA Dupont's Piccadilly (1929), Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton in Coney Island (1917), and The Whirl of the Charleston (1927). Plus there will be performances and live music in the bar, which will be suitably themed to the evening's programme (they're promising to recreate a 1920s West End club and a Seaside Funfair).

Last year, I was party to performances by Bourgeois and Maurice and the Future Cinema dancers, and witnessed alongside the heart-breaking splendour of Blue Angel starring Marlene Dietrich, some of the most surreal shorts I've ever seen, including a woman teaching a spaceman how to charleston.

Catch The Smoking Cabinet, 12-14 December at Curzon Soho. Tickets are available from the Curzon Cinemas website.

30 October 2008

British Animation: The Channel 4 Factor

And here's a book we haven't got our hands on yet, but we're told it's in the post...Clare Kitson's British Animation: The Channel 4 Factor, published on 19 November. Pre order here.

Clare was Channel 4's animation commissioning editor from 1989 to 1999, and with the Arts Council's David Curtis, set up the Animate scheme. And the sample pages should really whet your appetite...it looks gorgeous.

Clare will be talking about the book..in person...at Encounters Festival at Watershed, Bristol, on Wednesday, 19 November.  And she's introducing a programme of Channel 4 films at Curzon Soho in London on Friday 5 December.

The still above...which you'll notice appropriately features a representation of a television set...is from Phil Mulloy's legendary Cowboys series - commissioned for Animate Year 1 (though I think it was called Animation Awards in the beginning).

And if you're the bookish type...have you bought The Animate Book yet?  If not.  Why not.

If you order The Animate Book from us before the end of the year, and quote 'blog' in the comments section, we'll throw in a free limited edition Animate t-shirt - tell us if you want an Al and Al or a Run Wrake design, male or female, small, medium or large...

Drawing and Animation

And just so we don't get accused of bandwagoning...we need to sneak announce that we're developing our own drawing and animation project with The Drawing Room. We'll be announcing new commissions and plans for a touring gallery exhibition in early 2009.

Olivia Plender, curator of, and artist featured in, their current exhibition, is The Guardian's Artist of the Week

Drawing for Animation

And just as Cornerhouse stages its drawing and animation show...the postman delivers a copy of Drawing for Animation - a new book by Paul Wells with Joanna Quinn and Les Mills.

Its part of the Basics Animation series from academic publisher AVA, and its approach is primarily to get across the fundamentals of drawing in relation to classical, drawn animation, and it does this very well - it's a well designed and lavishly illustrated publication, and as an 'introduction', its a comprehensive one.

Best for me though is how it manages to sneak in interesting and insightful snippets -  Joanna Quinn on 'learning to draw' is a delight, and commentaries on, for example, things like memory and perception come into play are thoughtful and engaging.

With profiles of key (no pun intended) figures, including Paul Driessen, Michael Dudok de Wit and Luis Cook, make it feel like something of an essential.

And that's not just because...in its graphic narrative section, it features a whole six pages on Animate's very own Francis, by Let Me Feel Your Finger First (image). See the film here. Read Esther Leslie's essay here.     

The Intertwining Line - new show at Cornerhouse, Manchester

The Intertwining Line - Drawing as a Subversive Art is a new exhibition running at Cornerhouse, Manchester, from 7 November 2008 - 11 January 2009. And it does more than the title exploring- "early and contemporary animation and its intertwined relationship with contemporary drawing."

The show includes artists we've heard of and already rate, like Melanie Jackson, and others we haven't heard of - so we'll be making the trip.

On Saturday, 8 November, there's a talk with the great Vera Neubauer (an Animate commissioned artist) and estimable Clare Kitson. And the brilliant Esther Leslie gives a talk on 13 November.

Image: Melanie Jackson, A Global Positioning System (though we don't know this is actually in the show...)

27 October 2008

Ben Rivers: At the Edge of the World

This was a clearly a hot ticket last night at the London Film Festival - with people like Maggie Ellis (Head of Production at Film London) and Simon Field (festival director and producer) in attendance. Quite right too. It's about time the Festival did more to champion distinctive and contemporary talent.

And Ben Rivers is a rare one, doggedly portrait-ing remote eccentrics. Film is clearly important - he talked about how he carries an arsenal of  lenses and film stocks, deciding only when in situation what would/must be appropriate. The commitment to celluloid seems to be both an aesthetic and pragmatic strategy - it is intrinsic to the artist's approach to the subject, but set against the immediacy that we know is possible with video, it's possibly a barrier too. Ben spends time with his subjects, but the apparatus of his production means he never gets too close. 

I would like to see him take a turn from what's in danger of becoming a habitual choice of subject. There's a danger of teetering into bo-ho decadance - and sometimes the work feels not as detached as it might from the influence of early films by Andrew Kotting - rural eccentricity and feral ritual. Though that's probably to do with my taste, too. His editing feels both rigourous and loose at the same time, but his composition is emphatic - the camera may veer occasionally, but that's because it's searching something out. 

What abide are the films' many beautiful moments where subject and technique - textures and colours - are emphatically and breathtakingly engaged.

Image: Ah Liberty! (2008)

Fear(s) of the Dark

What with Halloween almost upon us, I recommend the wonderful Fear(s) of the Dark as a fright filled treat. A series of six short monochrome animations that each tells a very different nightmarish tale using a range of techniques from pencil drawing to abstracted shapes.

You might not be all that partial to every film, and you may find Bluth's offering particularly nasty (12A certification?!?), but the work of sci-fi cartoonist Charles Burns, French animator Marie Caillou and American illustrator Richard McGuire really shines out.

24 October 2008

Vote for The Black Dog

It's just come to our attention, thanks to Kate Stables at the Guardian Online that the Animate Projects commissioned film, The Black Dog's Progress, is up for an aniBoom Award.

If you're a fan of Stephen Irwin's wonderful film then show your support and rate the film on aniBoom.

Power to the Pixel

If anything could persuade the ICA of the "cultural urgency" of new media (see earlier post), the just happened Power to the Pixel conference could. There was a LOT to take in...and for the very first time, I think I will be checking out the conference archive...  

Most presentations confirmed that the only thing we can really predict about change is that it will happen, and if you were hoping for fail-safe models, you'd have gone home disappointed. Even utterly charming UK Film Council distribution supremo Pete Buckingham was engagingly frank about not having any answers just yet..and it's encouraging that he's working with Power to the Pixel's unassumingly brilliant founder/director Liz Rosenthal to at least try and work out what the questions are. Pete mentioned Chris 'Long Tail' Anderson's Why $0.00 is the Future article. 

M dot Strange - was an experience. And if there was a preponderance of Young Americans, then that's probably a question of cultural difference. Their initiative and strategic thinking was nevertheless provocative. 

Matt Hanson was his usual inspiring self, and one of the few presentations that offered some content - making astute connections across film, visual arts and commercial practice, and cinemas, galleries, online and public sites.

And I learned was sideloading means.  And it's not rude.

Image: M dot Strange - We are the Strange 

Jeffery Marzi website

Check out the official Jeffery Marzi website.

See the film here.

ICA London "lacks cultural urgency"

Bizarrely, just as Arts Council England prioritises digital opportunities, the ICA has announced that it's closing its Live and Media Arts Department because, in the opinion of ICA director Ekow Eshun, "the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency."

Now, if this is true, then he's missing the irony of the ICA having played a role in any shallowing, and merely displaying a knack for tactless blundering. But there's plenty of evidence to the contrary.  

And at Animate Projects we're proud and honoured to have been approached by (and to have commissioned) 'new media' types! Thomson and Craighead's Flat Earth subtly and engagingly makes propositions about the way the web influences how we 'construct' and communicate ideas of our personal selves in the new public space. They're currently showing in Untethered, at Eyebeam, New York, a show that is one Artforum current Critics' Picks. Maybe Ekow doesn't think Artforum is a good judge of cultural urgency. Maybe it isn't. Maybe Ekow doesn't read Artforum.

Semiconductor's Magnetic Movie has been seen by more than a million people across television and online. It's won awards all over and been bought by the Smithsonian.  And for our Stop. Watch. project, (touring now, online later in November), we co-commissioned (with RSA Arts and Ecology) fantastic short films by 'media' types Manu Luksch and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. 

Now...'new media artist' isn't a label we'd want to stick on anyone's lapel, but to say that artists who are working with new media - as material, subject, strategy - are, as a rule, "lacking urgency" strikes me as a bit of a silly, ignorant, and against the tide thing to say. He needs to stay home more.

Image: Young-Hae Change Heavy Industries

21 October 2008

Aurora! Aurora! Aurora!

Aurora 2008 takes place in Norwich from 12-16 November, and the programme is online now. Aurora really is an exceptional event - "uniquely artist-orientated and resolutely ambitious" - and Animate Projects is beyond proud to be its partner. The official 'live' premiere of the AnimateTV 2008 films is part of the festival - with all seven artists coming along. As well as screenings, there are installations (including a presentation of Emily Richardson's AnimateTV commission Cobra Mist), panels, and international guests - Robert Beavers, Barbara Sternberg, Michael Robinson and Patrick & Michele Bokanowski. We're looking forward to it a lot.

The Festival Guide can be downloaded here.

The image is one of four by photographer Edgar Martins, commissioned by Aurora 2008. 

15 October 2008

Collaborative filmmaking

On Channel 4's 3 Minute Wonders this week, to coincide with Frieze Art Fair, Frieze has assembled edited highlights of the entries for Frieze Film 2008. A collaborative film project that invited artists to upload their own and appropriated material to YouTube using Cormac McCarthy's The Road as inspiration. To create your own version of Road Movie, Frieze suggests that the user browses through all 40 entries on the Frieze Film 2008 channel on YouTube.

If you're interested in contributing to an open source film yourself then here are two examples that have recently caught my attention:

The trailer above shows a selection of entries received so far for Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, a 'mass collaborative animation' that invites collaborators to submit animations/illustrations based on the original masterpiece by George A. Romero. The materials will then be compiled to work alongside the original soundtrack and will be distributed both online and by DVD. You've got until 15 December if you feel inspired to join in.

Or for something more ambitious, why not look at A Swarm of Angels project, started by Matt Hanson, founder of onedotzero, which aspires to be the world’s first internet-funded, crewed and distributed feature film. With over 1,000 contributors since 2006, the projects uses Creative Commons license to allow others to download, share, and remix the original media made for any non-commercial purposes. There are currently two scripts in development, if you're interested in joining the swarm and adding your voice then join here.

9 October 2008

Bill Domonkos on Lumen Eclipse

This month's online show at Lumen Eclipse features the gorgeous work of experimental filmmaker Bill Domonkos.

Appropriating material from archives and the internet, combined with animation and live action, Domonkos creates sublime and visceral films. I particularly like The Fine Art of Poisoning which is a dark melodramatic tale using Victorian drawings and a macabre soundtrack.

Bill Domonkos is an American artist who studied painting and video art at the Cleveland Institute of Art, before turning to computer animation in the 1990s. He has directed music videos, worked in the gaming industry and designed interactive projects.

'The extraordinary thing about cinema is it’s ability to suggest the ineffable—something that cannot or should not be expressed in words, but only hinted at through sounds and images. It is this elusive quality that informs my work. ' Bill Domonkos

Image: The Fine Art of Poisoning, Bill Domonkos

Optimism in Conneticut

If I was anywhere near Westport, Conneticut, USA, I'd be heading over to the Westport Arts Centre to see Optimism, a show curated by Michael Connor (on until 30 November 2008). It feels about as timely as an exhibition could. And it includes, and reminded me of, one of my favourite works - two short films by Walid Raad, part of The Atlas Group Archive. I think I saw them first at the Documenta 11 (the one before last). I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The Bachar Tapes are especially audacious and provocative, and a rare example of political art that packs its punches on both counts. And though it may be fiction, it's nevertheless a truth...   Miraculous Beginnings - the film showing as part of the Optimism show is more on the wry side - fleeting images that are beautiful and poignant, and if you can't get to Westport, then see it here

The Lament of Images, by Alfredo Jaar, was at Documenta 11 too - and that's where the image comes from. And I'm afraid it's the punchline.

Meanwhile..between Westport and New York City lies New Rochelle. And that reminds me of the film Rochelle Rochelle in Seinfeld: "A young girl's strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk."  

We recommend...Dryden Goodwin at The Photographers' Gallery, London

Dryden made Flight for Animate. His show of photographs and drawings (and combinations) - Cast - is  at The Photographers' Gallery in London until 16 November 2008. Jonathan Jones blogged very nicely about it in The Guardian:

If you think there's no imagination, soul or talent in contemporary British art, this journey through the streets of London will make you change your mind.

Gary Leib rocks

If you happen to find yourself hanging out by the Wonderwall at the Wonder Room in Selfridges, London (which is a favourite spot for us all at AP), you can check out Filminute 2008. Or you could just visit the Filminute website. Either way, our favourite by a long chalk, especially in these times of financial crisis, is Gary Leib's Wall Street

It deserves at least three-quarters of a trillion votes (geddit?!).

1 October 2008

The Black Dog's Progress nominated for Public Realm showcase

We are very pleased to see that Stephen Irwin's The Black Dog's Progress has been nominated by Angela Kingston for Axis' Art in the Public Realm showcase. The Public Realm programme "advocates for diverse visual arts practice within the public realm", and it is great to see broadcast/online artist's film - being taken seriously as something that's a) art and b) available to the public in public/accessible space. There's a lovely review by Angela too.

Angela curated a gallery show The Animators a couple of years ago. And she's interviewed for a LUX vodcast.

30 September 2008

Here:Radical Animation Now

The Here event at Whitechapel, London, this weekend was brainstormingly awesome, even if we say so ourselves (actually..we just gave them bit of money to help bring Barry Doupe over from Vancouver). Barry showed his new, feature length film, Ponytail, and Jim Hollands showed Here.

I haven't seen stuff this important for a long, long time. Radical is certainly the word - both films feel extraordinarily attuned and zeitgeisty. I can't say it better than our friend Ian White, who curates the film events at Whitechapel. He described Ponytail as "exploring a technology that loooks like it is on the verge of collapse...disarmingly accessible and simultaneously surreal aesthetic." It's remarkably dextrous - avatar characters that play out strange scenarios, mundane and disturbed by turn. And all the while references, allusions and nuances fly thick and fast.

Ian calls Jim's Here "one of the most important new videos to be made in the UK in recent years", and I don't disagree.  He takes the 60s television of Joe Orton's The Erpingham Camp as its 'baseline', it's an anarchic and controlled, unrelenting, mesmerising. And when the layers (sound as well as visual) seemingly connect, it's exhilarating.

Both films really confound definition, whilst making absolute and provocative sense. 


We're looking for one. Almost too urgently. If you're interested or know anyone who might be, please check the Opportunities section at animateproject.org.  Deadline 6 October.

Take the Animate Projects' Survey

We're interested in finding out more about the good people who use animateprojects.org so we've set up a survey here.

We'd like your thoughts about our current website and also about the new online magazine that we'll be launching in early 2009. Plus, we'd like your suggestions for some all time Top Ten lists that we're drawing up.

All those who complete the survey will be entered in to a prize draw to win an iPod nano.

The survey runs until 10 November.

26 September 2008

Here: Radical Animation reminder

Here: Radical Animation is at Whitechapel London this weekend...Barry Doupe on Saturday, Jim Hollands and Patricide on Sunday...

Be there. Be.

25 September 2008

Dummy Jim

You must visit Mr Matt Hulse's website for Dummy Jim - his feature film project about a deaf Scotsman who cycled to the Arctic Circle and back again.  It really is fantastically gorgeous, and rich with animations, drawings and film.

Matt has made two films for Animate - Half Life and Hotel Central.  Oh...and some other stuff too...

I recall that years ago he made a film where he pixillated himself naked, and that got him a spread (as it were) in Health and Efficiency magazine. 

23 September 2008

Horse Power at Metal, Edge Hill, Liverpool

Horse Power, a show curated by our friends Al and Al, at Metal's space on Edge Hill station, a £1 return ride from Liverpool Lime Street. For some reason it's not part of the Biennial, but that's the Biennial's loss.

I've never really been able to figure out quite what Metal is for/does, and I always thought the Aga sponsorship was an indicator that it wasn't for the likes of me (I'm more baby belling), but Horse Power is just great - modest, but perfectly put together. A mixed show - painting, video, comic book, and non-art stuff, on the theme of horse power, and inspired by the site of the gallery. It's in building right on the station platform, and it's where Stephenson set off on the steam-powered Rocket in 1830...relegating actual horsepower to history, but sticking with the measure..

The exhibition includes the great avant-garde 2 screen classic Berlin Horse by Malcolm Le Grice, with music by Brian Eno, showing in the downstairs 23 seat cinema. And the brilliant and chilling Dead Horse, by Tim 'bullet time' Macmillan. Tim's made two films for Animate.

The show is a real treat. And there's excellent (if photocopied) booklet, full of interesting perspective. It runs until 1 November, and if you're in/going to Liverpool, we recommend not to miss.

The photo shows Al and Al with Jenny from Metal.

BUG at the BFI

BUG 09 recently took place at the BFI Southbank.

I loved the dark hand-drawn tale of Canadian artist Chad VanGaalen called Molten Light, above. VanGaalen is an animator and illustrator, who creates fantastical lo-fi music videos for his own songs, using a seemingly childlike and simplistic felt-tip pen drawn style to depicit his dark fantasies.

This show, BUG looked at interactive videos and showed work by experimental filmmaker Vincent Morisset. Morisset is known for his 'web-friendly' videos and his collaborations with alternative rock band Arcade Fire. Check out his award-winning music video Be online B for yourself, if you haven't already.

I also really enjoyed seeing the music video for Yuki's Sentimental Journey by the multi-talented (but now sadly deceased) Japanese artist Nagi Noda who has created some brilliant music videos and adverts - just check out this fabulous dancing eyeball video.

In amongst the music videos were a few highly imaginative shorts by American artist PES best known for his stop-motion treat, Western Spaghetti. If you check out his website, eatPES, there are a couple of nice 'making of' films, alongside his short films and commercials.

BUG 10, is at the BFI on 6 and 26 of November. If you would like to send work for consideration for future shows, e-mail info@bugvideos.co.uk

Image: Frogger by PES

22 September 2008

Liverpool Biennial 2008

Office trip to Liverpool for the Biennial opening and a jolly time. Especially with good friends at FACT - we are working with them on something very exciting indeed for next year...

Land, by Ulf Langheinrich, is in their main space. A screen of 'noise' - like a furious mass of swarming bees - forms into 3D animated abstractions. It's sensory and sensational, and avoids/counters the narrative pomposity of Douglas Trumbull's 3D movies for the Luxor, Las Vegas. Ulf is in the picture...just snuck to the left of FACT Director Mike Stubbs. Lots of other photos I couldn't post here, but may well do if the cheques don't arrive.

The Biennial's great, though the website and guide material seem to make visiting harder than it should be.

10 September 2008

AnimateTV 2008 new films - first outing

And last night we had a preview screening of the films we commissioned last year - seven of them! It was all a bit nerve-wracking - the first time anyone except us and the artists had seen them, and all on a big screen at the Birkbeck/ICO preview cinema.

They looked and sounded great and went down a storm.

Catch them on Channel 4 on 21 September (five to midnight). They'll be on animateprojects.org in October, and there are live launch events from November - Aurora Festival in Norwich, Encounters Festival at Arnolfini in Bristol, FACT Liverpool, finishing up at Tate Modern at the beginning of December. Actual dates and times when we've got them.

AnimateTV 2009 - new projects selected

We had our advisory panel meeting last week, followed by interviews, and finally made a decision. It was particularly tough this year, especially when we got down to the final six.

The AnimateTV 2009 Advisory Panel members were: Ruth Jarman (artist, Semiconductor), Alex Maclean (Creative Director/Founder, Airside), and Polly Staple (Director, Chisenhale Gallery), along with Jacqui Davies and Gary Thomas (Co-directors of Animate Projects), and Ruth Fielding from Lupus Films - C4's animation consultants who are developing 4mations.tv.

And the commissioned artists are...Thomas Hicks, Petra Freeman, Cordelia Swann, and Sarah Wood.

Lots of information very soon at animateprojects.org

AnimateTV is commissioned by Channel 4, and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

28 August 2008

London International Animation Festival kicks

The London International Animation Festival - LIAF - runs from next Monday for a whole week (1 - 7 September), and last night we popped along to their launch screening. We are thrilled that all the AnimateTV 2007 films have been selected - you can read short essays on each of them at animateprojects.org. And Animate's friend Jonathan Hodgson is a guest, with a q&a session on Saturday.

Our favourites from last night were the excellent and award winning Skhizein by Jeremy Clapin from France -a sad-man-in-a-room films that transcends the cliche with its poignant metaphor for madness. And  Jesse Rosensweet's brilliant, Paradise, a National Film Board of Canada funded film, featuring tin toy characters with frozen expressions and cold, bleak lives. 

Image: Francis, Let Me Feel Your Finger First

26 August 2008

AnimateTV - new films

The seven films commissioned a year ago for AnimateTV 2008 are all delivered, and we've been filming interviews the artists for the AnimateTV programme. This usually goes out in December, but it's got an earlier slot - in September - around about the time that Channel 4 launches its new website, 4mations.tv. So it's been a busy time putting the programme together for the tighter deadline...but we're just about there...

There's information about the new films at animateprojects.org. The films and interviews will probably be online towards the end of October. And we've got 'live' launches - showing the films, and artist q&a's - in November/December at Aurora (Norwich), Encounters at Arnolfini (Bristol), FACT Liverpool and Tate Modern. Dates confirmed when they're confirmed...

Image: Early Birds, Suky Best

21 August 2008

AnimateTV 2009 Selection

The deadline for proposals for our new commissions for Channel 4 was 31 July. We got 131 submissions, and we're now in the middle of the selection process. We've got a shortlist of 20, and the advisory panel meets up at the beginning of September. We'll let you know how that goes...

Sending rejections is the least fun part, though we know it's worse getting them.  

Blog Number One

We've been going for over a year now, so this blog is overdue...

On animateprojects.org and in  our regular newsletter (subscribe here) we'll continue to feature our films, production materials, interviews, etc, and information about our commissioning and other activity. On the blog, we'll be posting about other news, about things we like, opinion, and other more random things. 

We also hope that the blog is where people will get in touch, contribute comments, made suggestions, ask questions, have a conversation...

One of the things we decided when we put the back catalogue online last year was to NOT invite comments on the films. The main website isn't an open thing like Vimeo or the BBC Network - we commissioned those films, and worked closely with the people who made them. We respect them, and though we're not afraid of criticism, we don't think it should be in the same space we're showing the work.