Monday, September 26, 2005

Ottawa Day #5

Last Day in Ottawa my jetlag had finally caught up with me, just in time for me to leave the next day. First thing in the morning we all met at the Masterclass with Michael Dudok De Wit, maker of the great animated shorts Monk and the Fish and Father & Daughter. Saw many of his commercials too...very interesting guy with lots of inspiring things to say.

Spent the rest of the day at the booth; I had an interesting talk with Amid Amidi about animation and the decline of art education in schools. As we chatted, we tried to figure out why so many animators of the 30s and 40s seemed to be born with such immense talent and exceptional ability rarely seen today amongst people the same age as they were when they started, in that their art had form, light, shape, etc. One theory I feel is that their generation most likely got most of their entertainment from theater, which deals with observing things in 3D space with real lighting and staging. Nowadays, getting our entertainment from flat screens, that sense is gone. This could be why there is this shift towards very flat drawings coming out of high schools. Anyway, something should be done about it. I ended up showing my leica reel to both Amid and Jerry that day...they both liked it.

Next year at the booth we need more stuff, and food! Definitely a learning experience seeing what other schools do, so I'm very glad we were there. More people from the east coast need to understand that Vancouver is a happy place and it's OK to move here.

Upon saying good-bye to Steve, networking with studios and shutting down the booth, we took everything back to Meeka's and had another awesome dinner in the Byward market, complete with them sweet potato fries...holy crap are those good. Is this another mysterious East/Mid-West food that's not available out here, like fried clams? (mmmm, fried clams....) Why else have I never heard of them? Must....find...

I went to the closing ceremonies and saw who won awards, and sat through the winning films. Some great stuff. Afterwards went to the closing party for a little while and got my picture with John Canemaker. He's a very warm, friendly person...he seemed very moved when I told him I could relate to the themes in his film. I feel very blessed to have interacted with these people who are keeping the animation industry and artform flourishing so much.

Overall it was a fantastic last night was topped off perfectly with a huge thunderstorm and torrential downpour outside the window. That was really nice, and dearly missed. I'm hoping this can become an annual trip, as it's really good for the school to be a part of it and get our name out there, and contribute something to the industry in this way. Ottawa is an amazing city too...can't wait to go again, and definitely take Jay there sometime too.

Back to reality....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ottawa Day #4

So today was a long day, at the booth and checkin' out films. Meeka ended up pulling an all-nighter at the studio so the house was still empty when i woke up. So I stood by the booth all morning while she got her much-needed rest. Steve showed up...hooray!

I took a little break from the booth when things were slow so I could check out just a few of the kids' films, mainly Henry Selick's Moongirl...the website had indicated he would be here in person, but such was not the case. Perhaps tomorrow, as his film is showing then as well...we shall see. Gopher Broke was also a great film; would love a copy of both of those. Meeka showed up in the afternoon, and Jerry Beck & Steve got together at our booth to look at Thunderbean's DVDs-in-progress...a real meeting of the animation history minds there. John Canemaker stopped by our booth briefly to pick up a brochure. I didn't get my picture with him cuz he seemed like he was in a hurry, but will attempt it tomorrow. Got a picture with Jerry though.

After going out to grab din-din for ourselves, we closed up shop to witness the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Screening at 7. That was sure lots of fun, and brought back lots of memories. Then we made our way to Barrymore's for Jerry's Worst Cartoons Ever show, which was absolutely hilarious. Even more so to discover Lee Mishkin's name as a writer for the Super President show, and Ken Southworth as animator on that awful Bucky & Pepito. I bought a copy from Jerry, as I'm sure it would be a big hit at the school for many movie nights.

One more day to go!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Random Ottawa Post

I just had to post this for no reason.

Ottawa Day#3

Today I set up the booth with very little trouble. I'd say it looks pretty good...some booths are fancier and some are lamer, but we have the best student reel so BLAH.

After guarding the booth for a couple of hours, we loaded up on a double decker bus to the Animators' Picnic, which had pretty good food and lots of people. After getting my food I decided to sit with John Canemaker and introduce myself, since I loved his film and appreciate the other things he's done a great deal. Very nice guy. He had some questions about our Game Art program since they're trying to start one up at NYU. I hope to chat with him more this weekend. The best thing about meeting famous people is realizing how normal they are.

I also introduced myself to Jerry Beck, who I also admire, told him what I do, that I know Steve, etc. What a wacky guy he is...also very nice and funny. The rumour around the campfire is that Steve is here, somewhere, and I hope to run into him tomorrow....really really hope. Jerry says he has a rare Cy Young film print to give to Steve, so if he's here we can all get together.

The only other people I knew there were some folks from EA who had visited VanArts before, so I chatted with them a bit too. After the picnic I headed back to the Animarket, where I got into a conversation with Dave Thomas from Cuppa Coffee, who I met 7 years ago at the World Animation Celebration in LA. He was surprised I still remembered him. Also, yes, a very nice guy who works in stop motion out in Toronto, so we had lots to chat about. I showed him my stop-motion class stuff, and Nigel, which he seemed to like.

The rest of the evening was pretty slow, as most people were attending a feature screening, but when it was over they came out in droves. I'm sure I will run out of DVDs by tomorrow, so people will have to fill out forms to have them mailed out, which is OK too, cuz then we know where they live!!! (insert evil laugh here) Meeka had to work late tonight to meet a Caillou deadline (it's 11:30pm and she's still not home yet), so it was just me. After the market closed I went to the 9:00 competition screening, which I think was the best one yet. Such amazing stuff, particularly a creepy CG short about puppets, a surreal trip done in ink sketches, a masterpiece of experimental film from Germany, and a hilarious episode of Harvery Birdman: Attorney at Law. The theater was beautiful and the crowd was very responsive...had a great community feel to it. I kept imagining my film playing there, and hope very much that will happen when it's ready.

The only damper on my day today is that whatever-it-is-about-the-east-coast-air has brought back my familiar nosebleeds I would always get while growing up out here.

A great day....tomorrow will also be awesome. Time to call my loving wife. Life is good.

Ottawa Day #2

(a day late on blogging...hi Kara!)

Yesterday I went downtown for the first screening of the day. After a leisurly lox bagel and a coffee, went to the National Gallery where the screening was, and saw the entire road lined up with mounties and policemen, even swat team people, preparing for a funeral, which I believe was for a popular MP. They also had an entire band of bagpipe players and drummers. They were all congregated in front of a large church. As the hearse pulled up and the coffin was brought out, all in ceremonial fashion with salutes and steps, the pipes played, and I was welling up. Brought back memories of bagpipes playing at Papa's funeral, so bagpipies always get me...I love them. (all who are left behind, take note, I want bagpipes at mine!) The emotion of the whole thing was annoyingly aggravated by my contact lens shifting over, but despite that it was one of the most moving things I have ever seen.

The screening I went to was the Kids' Showcase, which was devoid of festival-goers besides me, and only attended by a bunch of kids on a field trip. The films were great, including a hilarious episode of SpongeBob. The particular highlight was a short film from Sheridan called 'An Eye for Annai'...all done in a very flat graphic style, about a little creature with one eye looking for another eye. It was brilliant, so I'll definitely be contacting the filmmaker for a copy. The show concluded with a great stop-motion short whose tape got buggered at the end, so I never got to see how it ended. Poo.

From there I proceeded to another screening at 1:00, which also had some good films, including a 1930s-style music video done in Flash, and a really good CG short about two squirrels and a bunch of bank robbers. Other than these, I wasn't totally blown away, plus I was getting really sleepy by this point. I was definitely starting to feel the effects of the time difference and feeling jetlagged and sleep-deprived. In the afternoon I dropped by the Ottawa School of Art and got to drop off some VanArts materials and talk to an instructor and some students. They sounded very interested in us and might try to drop by our booth this weekend. Next time a more formal visit will have to be arranged; seems like a nice school.

I opted against going to the feature screening at 7, as I was wiped out from walking all over town and just needed to rest, so that's what I did after treating myself to a quiet Italian dinner. Pretty lonely day...I miss Jay and look forward to seeing her again. She notified me on the phone that my citizenship ceremony is coming up on Oct 4, so that's exciting news to get while being in the nation's capital.

Well, time to go set up the booth!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ottawa Day #1, part 2

Quick blog before i go to bed cuz it's 1am here now, but i still feel like it's 10pm, which is BC time. Had awesome rib dinner with Meeka at this restaurant i can't remember the name right now but I'll remember later. Holy crap, what good food.

Went to Opening Screening...some great films and some "ehh" films. Very artsy stuff. John Canemaker's film was the highlight for me; i related to it in a big way. Loved it. Ok tired. More tomorrow.

Ottawa Day #1

So i had a good flight yesterday...watching cartoons on the laptop helped the 3+ hours fly by pretty quickly. finally got to meeka's place around 9:30ish and chatted for awhile; showed her my film and Jose/Carlos' film. had a hard time getting to sleep due to the time change. my normal bedtime ended up being around 2 in the morning here.

today i tried reaching somebody at the arts high school here to arrange a visit, but still nobody is returning my calls, so that might not happen this time around; we'll see about tomorrow. so i walked around getting lost trying to find the place to pick up our festival passes, and once i found it had a typical Canadian lunch at Tim Hortons and went to take a look at the parliament buildings since i was in the neighborhood. It's pretty neat being here on the dawn of my citizenship ceremony, whenever that is. so far ottawa is very pretty...reminds me of victoria.

the cab drivers here are far they are more talkative than the ones in Vancouver. the first one today told me he just moved to Canada a few months ago so he doesn't know the streets very well.....gee, i sure felt confident, but he did know about the important landmarks, so that's ok. he was really nice though. the second guy today proceeded to tell me a string of dirty offensive sexist racist jokes, and i pretended to laugh. i should have fired one back at him, 'say, do you know what they call a school bus full of racist bastards at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!' oh well.

so now my feet are sore and i'm waiting for meeka so we can grab dinner later and the opening screenings tonight.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

7 Years in Canada

Today is the 7-year anniversary of the day I finally crossed the border into Vancouver, and have not had an established address in the US since. I was 23. Most of my 20s were here.

In a few months I'll be a dual citizen. (current music: 'Burning Homestead' from Star Wars) How ironic! "I want to come with you to Canada. There's nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a hoser like my father." But my father's not Canadian. I think I'm the first one, which from an archealogical perspective is pretty interesting. (current music: "Tourniquet", Evanescense) Part of me has been torn establishing this new identity for myself, in that so much of my blood is pure red American. Starting with pilgrims on the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock, to William Davis crossing the Delaware with Washington, to Ann Simpson, the Revolution's messenger girl with the hole in her tooth, and Ulysses S. Grant. These are my ancestors, where I distantly come from, without whom I would not exist. (current music: "She Only," Great White) So am I leaving this behind? I don't believe so. I am too proud of where I come from. I like to think instead that I'm like the pilgrims, carrying their blood into another land, a different one. The Ambrose/Priebe line has simply spread and will carry more Canadians into the neverending story of my family. I think many people in my family are more Canadian than they might like to admit. Part of me has always been destined to settle here...subtle signs of feeling drawn to it my whole life; Falkor Alley & the Ryche being a prime example. Something about it.

I think as a child I always knew who I was. Somewhere along the line I forgot, but when I came to Canada I started to remember. (current music: "Rift", Phish) Funny how sometimes you have to leave a part of yourself behind to find your whole self again. Yet I like to think that I came out here to find myself and instead God found me, and thus I'm more myself than I've ever been, and still a work in progress. Stranger still that Priebe happens to be a Mennonite name, so again destiny rears its head. My plan for instilling in future Mennonite Priebes is to blend the worlds and memories of Michigan and BC in such that they will feel like the giant mitten is as much a part of them as it is of me. I want them to feel that it is just the magic land on the other side of the lake, as Windsor was to me looking across Lake St Clair and being told "That's Canada over there!" How exotic! Yet it won't be distant, only in terms of fast-forwarding 3 hours by plane, as much as we can. (current music: "Another Brick Part 1", Floyd)

I like having this extra identity to add to my American-ness. It's like being born again. When I became a Christian (which i think i always was, i just didn't realize it for a few years, just like i've always been Canadian) I found it fascinating to have a new creed to live by, a new standard, a real truth, and the most real people I've ever met to be a part of. The old me was shed to an extent, but still very much there in a different perspective. Very similar thing here. I can carry a gun and drink a beer at the same time. Too bad I am not partial to either of those things.

(current music: "Wrapped Around your Finger", Police) It's good to be here. I never would have guessed I would be. 7 years. Hm. Must soak in this.

(current music: "As the World Falls Down", Bowie)

"I need you, Hoggle, I don't know why but, every now and then in my life, for no reason at all, I need you, all of you."

"You do? Well, why didn't you say so?"'s a beauty way ta go!

(current music: "Down Under" Men at Work)