Monday, August 31, 2009

the fall of tower 37

An absolutely insane fall is shaping up for "The Incident at Tower 37," with almost daily news coming in on the festival front. The result is that I am drowning in duplicated information: from the press kit to the online calendar to the Bit Films website, I find that it's almost impossible to keep all the documents up-to-date and accurate with screening dates and locations. And I thought having a Twitter account would help. Ha! That's just a fourth place for things to be omitted.

But it's all really good news, despite my bitching. Like today, when out of the blue comes an email saying that Bill Plympton and Signe Baumane have selected our film to be a part of their "Animation Gala" at the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival next weekend. The subtitle of the show: Best animated shorts from around the world. I'm not kidding. I suspect that Bill and Signe saw the film as a part of their animation programming responsibilities for the Woodstock Film Festival (coming the first week of October) and must have liked it enough to fold it in to this other show they're creating.

Speaking of Woodstock, there will be a strong Bit Films crowd making a weekend out of the festival. If you're heading that way, let me know. I suspect we'll be having a little gathering to celebrate the event.

So yes, the fall is sick. If I say the film will be coming to a theater near you, I might actually be right for once! As of this writing, the following cities will be hosting a screening in the remainder of 2009: Linz (Austria), Martha's Vineyard, Springfield (Illinois), Madrid, Boulder (CO), Woodstock (NY), Charlotte (NC), New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Yokohama. And there are still other fests we're waiting to hear from. If you're in one of these places, check out the calendar or email me for screening details.

Yikes. I put zero links into this post. Okay, here's one: the updated Tower 37 page on the Bit Films site, which links to all the aforementioned fests. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

fall preview

I've been deliberately silent. Think of it as an August hibernation. Eating, resting, spending time with friends and family (that's Noe working the T37 hat) before the onset of September and all that comes with it. For those in the academic life, you know what I'm talking about.

This year is a little different from the usual start-of-term, however, because Tower 37 is still very much in play on the festival circuit and that will keep things extra busy. There are already going to be a bunch of screenings of the film with many more fests still holding back on their selection lists. The calendar has the most current details, of course.

There will be a second round of Bit Films Internships, to be announced sometime in early September.

I'm teaching only half-time. My one course in the fall is called Animation Workshop, and for those at Hampshire who are curious about the class you can think of it as a Division III training camp. Or a mini Div III. Basically, I see the course as an opportunity for pre-Div III students to learn the ropes of conceiving of, proposing, pursuing, and completing a project within a finite amount of time. It meets Wednesday mornings. Anticipating a common question: yes, I would be happy for students to collaborate on a project in the course.

The Animation I class will be in the able hands of Hampshire alum, Tower 37 collaborator, and Beijing celebrity teacher Chris Bishop.

I will continue to research and develop the still-untitled feature project that I began this summer, and I'm looking forward to contributing more to Evan and Chris's ongoing short production that's been making great strides in the past few months.

Oh, and Mars isn't all that close tonight after all. So get to bed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

SIGGRAPH wrap-up

SIGGRAPH was like the anti-Palm Springs because instead of getting food poisoning, I ate like a king the entire time. Red beans and rice late on my first night was followed by crawfish etouffee, chicken and sausage gumbo, blackened catfish, jambalaya, shrimp creole and more. I bought no food at the convention center the entire time. While I didn't go in with that as a rule, I think I'm going to follow it at future SIGGRAPHs. At least the ones that offer brilliant grub just a short walk away.

It was a very unbalanced fest for The Incident at Tower 37, given the two Monday screenings back to back followed by (at least for this attendee) no further animation screenings for the rest of the week. But those two shows were quite good. Highlights included Love_Child, Anima, and Alarm. The Nominees screening was more crowded than the Young at Heart show that followed, and unfortunately there was a lot of overlap between the shows. I think that's largely why I opted out of the festival for the remaining days.

We unveiled some new Bit Films gear, from the stickers to the extra-cool Operator hats (from the film) that Jake designed and ordered. Courtesy of Jake and Taryn, I have the following two images to share:

Watching Bassam and Jarred man the Blender booth all day then stay up doing production all night was painful, but somehow they kept smiling throughout their lack of sleep. I was happy I could swing in periodically and help them wrangle their renders through the Hampshire farm. The last thing I saw as I left the floor was a silent version of the new teaser, and it looked great. No new post about it yet on the Tube site, but I'm sure one will come soon.

Helga was the focus of many New Orleans conversations as well. Brian and I met at the bar of Mulate's to discuss the division of future Helga labors, only to be interrupted by a Laika R&D guy who had been eavesdropping on our talk from the seat next to us. He had some great suggestions -- thanks, Tony! We also connected with Mark from Animux (who also had great suggestions) and look forward to a potential future collaboration with his team.

One other quick note: Please, RenderMan team at Pixar, please inject more images and movies into your presentations for future User's Group meetings. I'm as geeky as they come, but I still had to fight sleep through slide after slide of SL code. Of course the Stupid RenderMan Tricks were, as always, awesome.