Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ottawa 2006, Days 4 and 5


Saturday morning we headed over for the keynote by Rob Coleman, which was delayed by well over a half-hour due to technical difficulties (which is incredibly ironic for a seminar on the future of digital technology). Since we went through the wrong door, I got to meet Rob briefly as he was waiting to get into the locked room himself. Unfortunately, due to my empty stomach and the time delay moving too close to the Animarket opening, I decided to skip the keynote so I could get the booth up and running. Calvin took lots of notes and said it was really great, so I'll catch up on it from him later.

The Animarket moved along smoothly throughout the day, and I got to autograph several copies of my book. All of the copies sold through the Aniboutique sold out before the afternoon was over, so I was pleased and suprised to hear it. The last copy was picked up by a representative of Concordia College, who have already been doing some great stop-motion films through their experimental animation program. I'm confident it's in good hands; they're doing some neat things there. I also met David Levy and picked up two signed copies of his book Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and for me, and one for the VanArts library. Just by thumbing through the book so far, I can tell it's great, and David is a really friendly person.

Around 6ish I left to look for Steve, thinking I might ride over to Barrymore's with him for his Cultoons screening. Couldn't find him anywhere, but I did run into John K during my searching, and introduced myself, as I was looking forward to meeting him...very friendly guy. (Ren & Stimpy actually had a small part to play in my obsession with first viewing of Creature Comforts happened during a commercial break for the Cousin Sven episode.) So I headed outside just about to call a cab, when a van pulls up and a festival staff member Joanne asks me if I'm Steve Stanchfield, cuz she's supposed to give him a ride to the venue but doesn't know what he looks like. I tell her he looks like a grown-up version of Oopie from the Columbia Scrappy cartoons, but that doesn't help much. So she gives me a ride to Barrymore's so I can identify Steve if he's there...turns out he had driven there himself, so all was good...just a little communication gap and I didn't have to wait in line to get in.

The Cultoons screening was full of unique moments in the history of humans. For many of these cartoons, it was certainly the first time they had ever been seen in a nightclub full of tipsy animators...for many it could have possibly been the largest audience they ever had. The world may never know, but listening to the crowd watching Monkey Doodle in that setting at that moment was right up there with the moon landing as a legendary historical slice of time. Steve, Mary, Jerry and I had a ball giving it the MST3K treatment. Steve's monologues describing each cartoon were priceless...I told him he should do a one-man show where he just verbally describes cartoons without showing them. Sometimes it's funnier than the actual film. He graciously allowed me to introduce The Peanut Vendor, which we made into an audience participation happening where we had to scream whenever the monkey flashed back into the frame in those full grotesque close-up shots. It was frightening. It was triumphant. It was art.

John K also put on a good show with the outrageous and over-the-top Lost Episodes from Spumco Productions. I especially liked his new Weird Al video. I remember visiting Spumco back in 1998 when Stephen Worth showed us some of the first unreleased Flash cartoons, and I vividly remember this hilarious gag when George Liquor goes into his house and then his giant oversized head emerges from the front door...probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Partied until about 12:30 and then headed home to crash.

Here John K is perplexed by the unchanging grin on my pet goblin's face.

Sunday morning we headed back to the NAC for another day at the Animarket, which was slow but still mananged to talk to some interested potential students. Shut down around 4pm and went out for Thai food with Calvin, Steve and Mary. We then headed back to our hotel cafe to review a prospective student's portfolio, and moved on from there to the Best of Festival Screening. This year had an amazing line-up of winners, and I was very pleased to see these films be recognized. Many of them were even more entertaining the second time through, particularly Here and There and Jeu...just amazing stuff. My favorite films which I had viewed for the first time at this screening were Mr Schwartz, Mr Hazen & Mr Horlocker, and Michael Sporn's Man Who Walked Between the Towers...both brilliantly made on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The closing party was really a more intimate venue with less booming music and claustrophobia. I had a great lengthy conversation with Garry Schwartz, who works at CCS and has done some amazing things around the world with his animation workshops, very similar to the animation outreach project I have in mind. Also chatted more with David Chai, Steve's Thunderbean partner who directed Fumi & the Bad Luck Foot (which should have been at Ottawa! Oh well...) and was very excited to meet the great Bruno Bozzetto, who told me "Vancouver is the best-eh city in da world for animation!" Viva Allegro Non Troppo!

The Great Bruno Bozzetto.

Marv Newland, clad in Mike Gribble's jacket.

Overall this year's fest was a very inspiring experience and I hope to make it back next year! I met so many incredible people who I believe will continue to have a great influence in my love for this wonderful art form of animation. Things are definitely happening...

As wonderful as it has been, I'm 110% ready to go home and wrap my arms around my wife and daughter. Ariel is probably huge by now, and starting to smile and discuss the atmospheric kinetic principles of psychological photosynthesis like any 6-week-old baby would do, naturally.

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